Around 5,500 people applied for asylum in the Czech Republic in 2004, which is the lowest number since 1999. More than a half of the applicants in 2004 came from Ukraine and Russia. Compared to 2003, the number of asylum seekers dropped by 52 percent. The drop is believed to have been caused by the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union on May 1, 2004.
A seventeen-member Czech medical team has left for Sri Lanka to set up a mobile children's hospital in the city of Galle in the south of the island. The team will join a group of Czech rescuers who have been working in the tsunami-hit island since last week. The hospital, called Hope from Bohemia, is expected to treat its first patients on Friday. By the end of January the personnel will be joined by gynaecologists and obstetricians. The mobile hospital is expected to work in Sri Lanka for six months.
The former Health Minister Marie Souckova has been accused of breach of trust. Ms Souckova allegedly broke the law when she brokered a controversial contract during her tenure at the ministry, which she left in April 2004. Ms Souckova appointed the lawyer Zdenek Novacek to represent the state in a compensation case launched by the blood plasma company Diag Human. Mr Novacek was to be paid 10 million crowns for taking the case and he was to charge a further 170 million crowns if he won. Experts have found his services highly overpriced. If found guilty, ex-minister Souckova faces two to eight years in prison. Last week, Ms Souckova, a former vice-chairperson of the Social Democrats, left the party reportedly over public statements of fellow party members relating to the Diag Human case.
The legendary rock-and-roller Chuck Berry has arrived in the Czech Republic and is due to kick off his "Rock n' Roll Never Forgets" tour of Europe on Sunday night in Prague. The 78-year-old guitarist, known for hits like Maybellene" and "Johnny B. Goode," will play Lucerna Palace along with the Joe Richardson Express, an American blues group.
Fewer than one in four people working for the police in the latter half of last year 2004 had been employed there before 1990, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross said in written reply to a deputy from the main opposition Civic Democrats. A historian told the state news agency CTK this was evidence that a "major overhaul" of the police force had been undertaken. Information on the number of former Czechoslovak secret police (StB) agents working for the police, however, has not yet been made public; Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan, asked to provide this information during a November session of Parliament, said none held any senior police posts. He said perhaps a couple dozen former StB employees work for the police and these had shown they were "of value to the force."
Canada dropped a 5-4 decision to the Czech Republic on Saturday, in its second game of the men's hockey tournament at the 2005 World University Winter Games. Three of the Czechs' five goals came on breakaways. Czech goaltender Tomas Dusek was the story of the game, turning aside 49 of 53 shots. The Czech Republic (2-0-1) leads the way with five points, with defending champions Russia (2-0-0, 4 pts) second followed by Japan (1-1-1, 3 pts).
Although the two countries do no have an extradition treaty, the UN mission in Liberia expressed confidence on Sunday that the Liberian government would soon hand over a Czech national charged with illegally exporting arms to Iraq and several other countries. Dalibor Kopp had operated an illegal ammunitions production line and exported arms to Africa and the Middle East. He was arrested by UN peacekeepers in Liberia last month. If found guilty Mr Kopp faces up to 10 years in prison.
About 50 people turned out on Saturday to honour the memory of Jan Palach, a student who burnt himself to death 36 years ago in protest against the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. Palach, a student at Charles University, set himself on fire in Prague's Wenceslas Square on January 16, 1969. He died of the burns a few days later. Palach was only 20 years old. His funeral at the Oslanske cemetery became a huge manifestation in support of freedom and democracy.
An 80-year-old woman was robbed in her home near the famous spa town of Karlovy Vary by three women who had gained entry into the disabled woman's apartment by posing as employees of the postal service. They pensioner was robbed at knifepoint of 500 crowns. In recent years, pensioners living alone have been regularly targeted for robbery and been victims of fraud.
Archaeologists find unique grave of Roman era warlord in Uherský Brod
Czech Ambassador to Ethiopia Pavel Mikeš: ‘If you wait long enough, an egg will walk on two legs’
New debate erupts over use of -ová suffix in Czech female surnames
Divided by Freedom – Large-scale Czech Radio survey finds six social classes in Czech society
Josef Becher – the man behind Czech Republic’s iconic liqueur