Czech Centres could be shut down as a result of cost cutting at the Foreign Ministry, which funds the network of offices dedicated to promoting the Czech Republic and its culture in various cities around the world. The Czech Centres have been told their budget will be slashed by at least 10 percent next year, and the network is making plans based on a projected budget of CZK 80 million. However, the final figure could be lower, said spokesman Jiří Rosencranz. He said more Centres could go the way of the one in Dresden, which was closed earlier this year, adding that salaries might also be cut. There are currently 24 Czech Centres in 21 countries.
The Czech Republic’s police chief, Oldřich Martinů, says his force is short of money and guarding the country’s embassies in Iraq and Pakistan is not one of its priorities. The police currently protect the Czech embassies in Baghdad and Islamabad from their own budget, at a cost of around CZK 60 million (around USD 3.1 million) a year. However, they are not required by law to do so. For their part, diplomats say the Czech legations in the two cities simply could not function without the protection of the country’s police officers. Mr Martinů said on Tuesday that the government would have to resolve the dispute. The Czech ambassador to Pakistan was killed in a hotel explosion nearly two years ago. The country’s embassy in Afghanistan is guarded by Czech soldiers.
The Czech cycling star Roman Kreuziger is joining Kazakhstan’s Astana team after five years as part of the Italian Liquigas stable. Astana is believed to have a budget about three times that of Liquigas, but Kreuziger denied he was making the move for financial reasons; the 24-year-old said the main motivation was the chance to work with new people, including the rider Alexandre Vinokourov. The Czech, who turned professional in 2006, has won the Tour of Switzerland, the Tour of Romandy and the Tour of Sardinia. He has finished ninth in the Tour de France for the last two years in a row.
Nearly 42 percent of Czech pubs and restaurants are cheating customers by charging them for half-litre beers that do not actually amount to a full half litre, according to a survey conducted by a group called the Consumers Defence Association. It measured the amount of beer served in half-litre glasses in 65 hostelries around the country. In most cases, the study’s authors said, bar staff were willing to top up drinks when a shortfall was pointed out.
The minister of finance, Miroslav Kalousek, says that President Václav Klaus agrees that cost-cutting measures being implemented by the government are needed. The minister made the comments on Tuesday after one of a series of meetings Mr Klaus is having with members of the recently appointed cabinet. The two discussed the government’s plans to balance the country’s budget and reform the pension, health and tertiary education systems. However, Mr Kalousek said there had been no discussion of a marked reduction in the president’s own salary.
Prague councillors have approved a controversial plan to create a special camp for the city’s homeless. The initiator of the plan, Jiří Janeček of the Civic Democrats, said on Tuesday the camp should open within six months. Members of the homeless community will not be forced to move in, but social workers will put pressure on them to do so. Non profit groups working with the homeless, including the Salvation Army, have criticised the plan. A representative of the charity Naděje said services should be provided to homeless people where they are: in the centre of the city. The camp will most likely be built in the suburb of Malešice; however, the location has not yet received approval, and two other areas have also been suggested.
Sparta Prague are preparing for one of their biggest games of the season, when they host Slovakia’s Žilina in the first leg of a tie for a place in European football’s top club competition the Champions League. Sparta will be without three key players on Tuesday night, with one of them, Marek Matějovský, also due to miss next Wednesday’s second leg through suspension. The Czech title holders last reached the group stage of the lucrative competition five years ago.
The renowned Czech writer Ludvík Kundera died on Tuesday at the age of 90. Born in Brno, he was a poet, playwright, translator and literary historian, and was particularly well known in Germany and Austria for his work translating German-language authors. Ludvík Kundera was the recipient of a number of awards in recent years, and was a cousin of the novelist Milan Kundera.
The interior minister, Radek John, has pledged that police and fire officers will not be subject to staff cuts this year, despite planned cuts in funding. After discussions on Monday evening, the head of the police union, Milan Štěpánek, told reporters that he welcomed the minister’s promise. However, he said his organisation would continue to fight mooted across the board public sector pay cuts.
A 10-year-old girl from Hainan province has became the five millionth person to visit the Czech Republic’s pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai, a spokesperson said. The girl and her mother were welcomed on Tuesday by the director of the Czech pavilion, Miloslava Kumbárová. She said the organisers had been pleased by both attendance levels and the media interest in the Czech Republic’s presentation at the Expo.