The Czech mobile operator Oskar Mobil said on Wednesday it had been awarded the country's third 3G (third generation) licence. The Czech Telecommunications Office declared a tender for the country's third 3G licence using UMTS (universal mobile telecommunications system) technology in mid-January but said it would give preference to Oskar, offering it the licence for two billion crowns (88 million dollars). Oskar Mobil, the smallest and newest mobile operator on the Czech market with 17 percent market share, is the only one of the country's three mobile operators which did not hold a 3G licence to date. Third generation technology is designed to provide e-mail, high-speed internet surfing and live sound image broadcasting to compatible handsets.
The lower house of parliament has passed a bill under which the Czech Republic should pay compensation to victims of the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia between 1968 and 1991. The bill awards 150,000 crowns (6,631 dollars) to the families of dozens of people killed in the invasion, and smaller amounts to people injured or raped. Soviet troops and soldiers from four other communist countries invaded Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968, to halt a liberalisation movement led by Czechoslovak Communist party chief Alexander Dubcek. After the invasion, the Soviet Union helped install a hard-line leadership which dismissed reformers from the party and jobs, and suppressed human rights and opposition movements. Soviet troops stayed in Czechoslovakia until 1991. The bill must still win the backing of the Senate.
Prague's Ruzyne airport was closed for some time on Tuesday due to snow
and poor visibility. However, a spokesperson said conditions were not
as bad as last Wednesday, when the airport experienced its worst
weather for a decade and was closed for over 10 hours.
Meanwhile, customs officers at Prague airport on Monday arrested a Slovak man attempting to smuggle protected rare parrots from Jamaica.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus, in Brussels on Tuesday for a NATO summit,
said discussions between the US president, George Bush, and European
leaders showed that differences of opinions over some issues had not
affected the fundamental basis of transatlantic relations. Mr Klaus held
brief talks with Mr Bush, and the US secretary of state, Condoleeza Rice.
Czech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, who was also in Brussels on Tuesday, said NATO had a future and would play a key role in securing the stability of Europe.
The Czech President Vaclav Klaus will attend Tuesday's meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels with US President George W. Bush. The Czech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross was originally scheduled to attend the meeting along with president Klaus but Luxembourg, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, rejected the participation of two Czech representatives. Both Mr Klaus and Mr Gross will attend this week's meeting of NATO leaders with Mr Bush.
The Prague High Court has overruled the decision of the Pilsen regional court in West Bohemia, which rejected the re-opening of the case of Jiri Kajinek. Mr Kajinek, who is serving a life sentence for double murder committed in 1993, insists he was framed by the police. Mr Kajinek's lawyer claims to have new evidence that proves Mr Kajinek's innocence.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the centre-right Civic Democrat's deputies group in parliament, Vlastimil Tlusty, has dismissed allegations by the Czech media that his wife Ladislava's bank loan was secured thanks to Mr Tlusty's influential post. On Sunday, Czech public television reported that her company had received a 20 million crown loan from a bank owned by the PPF group, which in turn won a lucrative tender from the Czech consolidation agency, of which Mr Tlusty is chairman of the governing board. Mr Tlusty said he had never abused his office and the link between the tender and loan was just speculation.
The number of counterfeit euro bills has increased dramatically in the Czech Republic last year, the Czech National Bank (CNB) announced on Monday. Compared to 2003, the central bank has recorded twice as many counterfeit bills. The number of fake Czech crowns and US dollars, on the other hand, have decreased. In total, the 9,289 counterfeit bills and coins uncovered amounted to 27.1 million crowns (1.2 million US dollars).
The Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, has asked Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, and the Chairman of the junior coalition Christian Democrats, Miroslav Kalousek, to find a way out of the "coalition crisis". On Saturday, Mr Kalousek called onto the prime minister to resign, over allegations about the financing of his Prague flat and his wife's business dealings that, Mr Kalousek says are damaging the credibility of the government. Mr Gross has no intention of resigning and retaliated with a call on all three Christian Democrat ministers to leave the government by Wednesday or be removed from office. Both Mr Gross and Mr Kalousek have defended their standpoints at separate meetings with the president.
And now to the sport: It was a big weekend for Czech tennis. In the doubles final at the Brazil Open on Saturday, Frantisek Cermak and Leos Friedl won their second consecutive ATP Tour title, beating Argentina's Jose Acasuso and Ignacio Gonzalez King 6-4, 6-4. On Monday, fourth seeded Andre Agassi of the United States faces off against the Czech Radek Stepanek in the first round pairings of the Dubai Open Tennis Championship. Stepanek, an up-and-comer now seeded 12th, marked an upset win last year against the defending champion, Roger Federer of Switzerland.
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