The deficit of the state budget decreased to 69 billion crowns, or more than 3.6 billion US dollars, by the end of July, the Czech Finance Ministry said on Monday. The deficit dropped from 75.7 billion crowns registered in June. Last July, the deficit reached 76.2 billion crowns. The state budget for the whole of 2010 has been approved with a deficit of 162.9 billion crowns. The ministry said lower capital expenditures of the state in 2010 were a major factor behind the decrease.
The government-run Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes which in April published a list of spies from the communist era inadvertently included the names of several people who allegedly still work for military intelligence, among them a number of agents still active abroad, the daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Monday. The paper said the agents in question, whose names were online for several weeks, may now face a serious threat to their lives and safety. A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said that while the military intelligence considered the publication problematic, a risk for the agency as such was unlikely. The security and defence committee of the Czech Parliament’s lower house is set to debate the issue.
Prague police arrested a 50-year-old man on Monday who shortly before held up a bank in the centre of the city. The man walked in and threatened to set off what he said was a bomb; when the cashier refused to give him money, the man ran away. Police detained the man only three minutes after he left the bank, and closed the whole street for some ten minutes before establishing the bomb was fake. If convicted, the man will face up to ten years in jail.
The Václav Havel Library, which was established in 2004 to preserve the works and legacy of the former Czech president Václav Havel, will move to a prestigious location in Prague. The head of the library’s board of directors, Czech multi-billionaire Zdeněk Bakala, purchased a house in Loretánské náměstí, near Prague Castle; the library will rent the premises from him. The library’s director, Martin C. Putna, said the Václav Havel Library should open at its new location in around 18 months’ time.
The Czech charity People in Need launched on Monday a fundraising campaign to help the victims of floods in Pakistan. The NGO is sending two coordinators to the affected area, and is planning to use the collected funds to provide basic food and water supplies to survivors. The charity released 500,000 crowns, or more than 26,000 US dollars, for immediate assistance. The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Monday the floods affected around 2.5 million Pakistanis; some 1,100 people were killed while another 27,000 are still cut off by the floods.
Admission fees were re-introduced at St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle on Monday, after four years of free access. Visitors can now only explore the cathedral after purchasing tickets to one of two tours offered by the castle administration; the cheapest admission fee is 250 crowns, or around 13 US dollars. The head of Prague Castle administration said the move would cut the waiting time for visitors to the monument, and would also enhance its protection. Visitors without tickets are now able to enter only the front part of the cathedral in the entrance area. Unrestrained access is also granted to people who come to the cathedral to pray.
Health authorities have been unable to establish the source of a dysentery outbreak in southern Bohemia. Thirty people have fallen ill with the infectious disease in the city of České Budějovice in the course of last week, while another 40 manifested clinical symptoms. All of them had potato salad in one of the city restaurants on July 23; however, the health authorities’ investigation in the restaurant and among its staff produced negative results. On Friday and Saturday, 19 people were treated in hospital in České Budějovice, with six of them hospitalized at the hospital’s infectious diseases department. All of them were released before the end of the weekend.
In related new, the Czech Military Intelligence Service said on Monday that among the names of communist spies which appeared online were no current members of the service. The publishing of the list of communist era spies by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes did not jeopardize the activities of military intelligence, the lives of its agents or the security of the Czech Republic, according to the Czech Military Intelligence Service.
Czech decathlon champion and world record holder Roman Šebrle was elected a member of the Athletes Commission of the European Athletic Association at the European Athletics Championship which concluded in Barcelona on Sunday. Roman Šebrle, who did not compete in Barcelona due to a muscle injury, came out top with 519 votes. The Czech athlete said this was a first step on the way to becoming a member of the Athletes Commission of the International Olympic Committee for which he would like to run at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
There were 1257 bankruptcy petitions filed in the Czech Republic in July which was 46 percent more than in the same month last year, according to the Czech branch of the firm Creditreform. Compared to the previous month, however, the number of bankruptcy filings dropped by 119. In total, more than 8,600 bankruptcy petitions have been filed by individuals and companies since the beginning of the year, which is 3,900 more than in the same period last year.
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