Ostrava police are investigating the head of a local Romani organisation, Dzeno, for allegedly misusing some 270,000 crowns worth of funds earmarked for combating unemployment among the minority group. Mikulas Horvath, who denies any wrongdoing, had previously been questioned over the use of funds for civil society projects that were never realised.
Tuesday is St Wenceslas Day, an official state holiday in the Czech Republic, marking the death of the nation's patron saint. As is the tradition on this "Day of Czech Statehood," Prague Castle, as well as town halls and churches throughout the country, are holding celebrations to commemorate the martyrdom of Prince Wenceslas, who was killed on this day in the year 935 by his brother Boleslav. For the holiday, Radio Prague is broadcasting the English-language world premiere of former president Vaclav Havel's 1968 radio play "Guardian Angel".
Jaroslav Svoboda of the Dallas Stars agreed on Monday to play for a Czech hockey team, raising to 173 the number of National Hockey League players set to compete in Europe during the NHL lockout. Svoboda, a forward, will play for Olomouc. One hundred and seventy three NHL players have agreed to play for Euroean teams during the lockout; the Czech league will have nearly 50 NHL players, including Jaromir Jagr of the New York Rangers.
Czech police have arrested 13 Vietnamese members of a human trafficking gang believed to have smuggled young Vietnamese women into the Czech Republic for forced prostitution. A police spokesman said on Monday the gang had been broken by the police special unit against organised crime. The gang lured victims to the Czech Republic on promises of legal employment, before forcing them into prostitution. One under-aged girl was allegedly sold in Germany for an estimated 100, 000 euros.
Czech president Vaclav Klaus, on an official visit to Spain, has rejected the notion of a single European identity, for Spanish journal El Pais. Speaking with the paper Mr Klaus said differences over Iraq were proof that Europe was "not united". During the discussion Mr Klaus rejected the "eurosceptic" label, telling El Pais he preferred to be seen as a "euro realist" for whom a freer, more democratic Europe with higher productivity was important.
Vladimir Spidla, one of 25 incoming Euro commissioners, spoke on Monday in
favour of the European Union social model during his hearing in European
Parliament. He said he also supported reforms to increase the
competitiveness of the European economy and said as commissioner of EU
social affairs he would strive to achieve and maintain a high employment
rate within the union.
Later in the day, Mr Spidla then faced grilling from euro MPs, including representatives from the Czech Republic and Greece, over topics like state debt and poverty. Mr Spidla also spoke about the free movement of labour as one of the EU's strengths, the reason why, as commissioner for social affairs, he would push for twelve countries from the "original fifteen" to reconsider restrictions against new member states that joined the EU in May.
Vladimir Zelezny failed to turn up for a televised debate on Sunday with his former party colleague and fellow Member of the European Parliament, Jana Bobosikova, who, after a very public row this month, split with the Independent Party he had founded. Ms Bobosikova has threatened to sue Mr Zelezny for slander if he didn't apologise for saying her decision to hire her husband to work for her in Brussels was, in essence, unethical.
The Czech swimmer Martin Kovar has won his third gold medal at the Paralympic Games now underway in Athens, after winning the 50-metre event. The Czech Prime Minister, Stanislav Gross, was in Athens for part of the games and presented Mr Kovar with the medal. Czech athletes have so far won 25 medals at the games.
The Czech army has confirmed that this year it will begin building a high-tech electronic surveillance and passive monitoring centre. The new military centre, which will initially have its headquarters in Opava, north Moravia, will be tasked with detecting and monitor enemy targets. As many as 500 specialists would eventually man the monitoring station. The Czech-made "Vera" radar system, which is capable of detecting the U.S. Stealth fighters, will be an integral part of the centre. The Czech Republic, which within NATO has concentrated on providing elite anti-biological and chemical units, intends to offer the specialised surveillance unit to the military alliance in the coming years.
About a dozen Czech rock bands took to the stage on Sunday afternoon to play a benefit concert for the "We don't talk to Communists" group, which wants to prevent politicians from working with the unreformed party. Among the bands playing are the rap-metal group Cocotte Minute, the Romani band Gluo Car and the pop-rock combo Chinaski. Several avant-garde theatre groups including Divadlo Continuo and Teatr Novogo Fronta were also staging productions at the event, which took place in an abandoned factory in Prague's Karlin district. The first "We don't talk to communists" concert was first performed last year, on November 17, the anniversary of the intervention by communist police in 1989 against a peaceful students' demonstration in Prague, which led to the so-called Velvet Revolution.
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