Several hundred Czechs who were in Southeast Asia at the time of Sunday's massive tsunami are still unaccounted for. The tidal wave, which was triggered by an undersea earthquake, has killed upwards of 38,000 people. Consular staffers in the region have compiled a list of 381 Czech nationals whose whereabouts remain unknown. At least five Czechs were hospitalized in Thailand but no reports of fatalities have been reported. Among the injured was the Czech supermodel Petra Nemcova, a 2003 cover girl for Sports Illustrated magazine's swimsuit edition, who suffered a broken pelvis. Her photographer boyfriend was swept out to sea and is still missing.
A spokesman in Washington for the U.S. government funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has confirmed that the radio is considering four possible sites for its future headquarters. RFE/RL is currently headquartered at the top of Prague's Wenceslas Square. The current site is considered too vulnerable to terrorist attack and the broadcaster is expected to move to a more remote site in Prague.
The head of the Social Democrats' deputies group, Petr Ibl, has said he will remain in his post for the time being but probably won't run for re-election. Earlier this month Mr Ibl, whose party is the largest in the governing coalition, said he was considering resigning from the post over his "disgust" at disunity within the party ranks. Meanwhile, the Social Democrat chairman, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, had an informal meeting on Tuesday with President Vaclav Klaus, at which the Czech president signed a bill that will change how funds are distributed to regional governments. Mr Klaus also signed bill relating to waste management and the right to information relating to the environment.
Some 2,000 Ukrainians living in the Czech Republic cast absentee ballots in the repeated second round of Ukraine's presidential election on Sunday. This is a third less than was the case in November. In the Czech Republic, 7,300 Ukrainians were registered to vote but many chose to go to the polls in their homeland instead. Ukraine attempted to elect their president for the third time in two months after November's second round of the election was confirmed rigged and annulled by the Supreme Court. Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was declared the winner of that vote. Election officials say opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko has won the re-run.
It is not yet clear whether any Czechs were among the victims of Sunday's tsunami disaster in Southern Asia. Czech travel agencies say they have established contact with all of their clients but hundreds of Czechs are known to have travelled to the region by themselves. The Foreign Ministry has decided to release ten million crowns (over 300,000 euros) from its budget to aid the affected regions. A crisis committee meeting was also held on Monday morning to coordinate help for stranded Czech tourists. The Ministry has also set up a special information hotline for the families of Czechs who are still missing in Southern Asia: +420 22418 1111, +420 22418 2425, +420 22418 2254, +420 22418 2985.
The Czech Republic has joined a UN Security Council resolution lifting the sanctions imposed on Iraq in 1990 and supporting the renewal of the country. The government-proposed bill was signed on Thursday by President Vaclav Klaus. Among other things, the bill bans the import and export of artefacts that are part of the Iraqi cultural heritage, have a historic, cultural, archaeological, scientific or religious significance or have been stolen from Iraqi cultural institutions.
A Prague court has sentenced a man to 4.5 years in prison for knowingly spreading a communicable disease. According to the court, Rudolf Novak, who is HIV positive, had unprotected sex with at least 10 partners over the course of two years, although he was aware of his condition. Mr Novak's lawyer said that none of his client's partners had been infected.
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