The Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek are engaged in a heated dispute over the prime minister's proposal to compensate anti-fascist Sudeten Germans expelled from the country at the end of World War II despite the fact that they had actively opposed the Nazi regime. President Klaus said the prime minister must be "out of his mind to propose a plan that was irresponsible, imprudent and potentially dangerous". The opposition Civic Democratic Party, which Mr. Klaus founded, has also slammed the prime minister for planning to re-open sensitive WWII issues without first reaching broad political consensus on the matter. A senior party official said the prime minister was behaving like a bull in a china shop.
The Czech army is to buy close to a thousand off-road trucks from domestic truck manufacturer Tatra, Defence Minister Karel Kuhnl told journalists on Friday. The order is worth around 5 billion crowns /200 million dollars/. The first Tatras are to be delivered next year and will replace the aging Praga V3Ss and Soviet trucks. A rival company has complained that the contract was awarded without a tender but the army chief of staff Pavel Stefka said that in this case a tender was not necessary. This view was supported by Parliament's Defence a Security committees.
A Prague court has sent three entrepreneurs to six years in prison for threatening a journalist who aired a news report about their firm's suspicious business activities. The Czech TV journalist Jiri Hynek was repeatedly accosted and threatened not to air the programme or he would be maimed. The men had already hired a man to do the job when the police arrested them. The court found that the said entrepreneurs employed similar practices in their daily business activities.
Nine Czechs have died while on holiday to Croatia since the beginning of the tourist season. Most of them are young people. The Croat authorities say that Czech tourists are particularly accident prone and are generally inclined to taking risks. Three Czechs drowned in the sea during the last fortnight alone, having swum too far out in spite of the locals' warnings. Two young Czech women are reported to have suffered spontaneous abortions because of staying out too long in the heat of the sun.
The state's stake in Vitkovice Steel is being sold to the Russian company, Evraz, the government announced on Wednesday. Evraz has agreed to pay over seven billion crowns for the steelmaking giant; it will also invest 2.5 billion in the company, and put 800 million into developing the north Moravian region.
The police have detained a group who allegedly sold military equipment abroad, a spokesperson said on Thursday. The five men and one woman are accused of illegal trading in both Czech and foreign made weapons, ammunition and computer hardware. No details have been released regarding the value of the items or to which countries the gang was exporting to.
Senior Czech state officials are temporarily to fly on special Czech
Airlines flights, under an agreement reached between the national
carrier and Defence Minister Karel Kuhnl. The deal comes after a series
of problems with the state's own military planes. Czech Airlines has
also said it will help with negotiations for the purchase of a new
state plane from manufacturer Airbus, which is expected to take place
in the first half of next year.
Meanwhile, Czech manufacturer Aero Vodochody is to begin making fuselage parts for Airbus, Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Thursday.
The Austrian leader, Wolfgang Schussel, has praised a plan by his Czech
counterpart Jiri Paroubek to make a conciliatory gesture towards Sudeten
Germans who did not support the Nazi regime. Speaking after a meeting
between the two men in Vienna on Thursday, Mr Schussel said it was
important that for the first time the principle of collective guilt was
not being applied to the German minority. An estimated 2.5 million Germans
were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II.
Mr Paroubek has not yet revealed exactly what kind of gesture he is planning. But the idea has already been rejected by Slovakia's prime minister, Mikulas Dzurinda, and a Sudeten German group in Austria.
The Czech non-governmental organisation People in Need has been forced to cease its activities in Chechnya, after the Russian authorities refused to extend its permit to operate in the disputed territory. Meanwhile, the Czech Foreign Ministry has come out in support of People in Need, which it described as a very experienced charity.
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