A lawyer for Viktor Kozeny says his client may fight extradition to the
US, following his arrest by the FBI in the Bahamas. The controversial
Czech businessman is accused of taking part in a scheme to fly millions of
dollars into Azerbaijan to bribe officials there for control of the state
Mr Kozeny - nicknamed the Pirate of Prague - is also wanted in the Czech Republic, after he fled the country with millions obtained from small investors during the privatisation process of the 1990s.
The legal committee of the European Parliament has recommended that MEP Vladimir Zelezny, the former director of the Czech commercial television station Nova, be stripped of immunity. The final decision is to be made at an EP plenary session in late October. At a closed meeting, the committee approved the proposal by the rapporteur, Austrian Social Democrat Marie Berger, that Mr Zelezny should be put at the disposal of Czech authorities to investigate three charges, for which the Czech judiciary had asked for his parliamentary immunity to be removed.
Forty-four people were injured in a coach accident on the D1 motorway in the direction of the Moravian capital Brno on Thursday morning. Czech police say the coach with tourists from Germany slammed into the back end of a truck. Three helicopters and nineteen ambulances rushed to the scene of the accident. Seven people, including the coach driver, are in critical condition.
Doctors around the country closed down their offices on Thursday in
protest at late payments from the state-run health insurance company VZP.
Around a fifteen hundred demonstrators gathered in front of the Health
Ministry building in Prague in support of the private doctors' strike. The
doctors were joined in the demonstration by pharmacists and dentists, and
by some politicians from the right-wing opposition Civic Democrats.
During the protest there were calls for the resignation of the Health Minister Milada Emmerova, who was blamed for the current cash-flow crisis. Talks between Mrs Emmerova and doctors are to continue after a two-hour meeting on Thursday afternoon ended in deadlock.
The Austrian firm OMV has taken over the Czech chain of petrol filling stations Aral. OMV's director said that they planned to invest up to 5 million US dollars in the chain. He said that Aral stations will all adopt the OMV logo within the next six months, but he would not say how much OMV had paid for the company. The deal will make OMV the chain selling the largest volume of car fuel in the Czech Republic. The Polish petrochemicals concern PKN Orlen had also been interested in buying Aral.
A billboard campaign has been launched to warn drivers to approach railway crossings with caution. There will also be warnings published in Czech newspapers. The campaign will be financed till the end of the year by Czech Railways, and a sponsor is being sought for it to continue next year. In 2004 there were no less than 600 hundred accidents on railway crossings, nearly a quarter of which do not have barriers. The Transport Minister, Milan Simonovsky, pointed out that, ironically, most accidents are on crossings where visibility is good.
According to a report by the UN Children's Fund released on Wednesday disabled children in Eastern Europe continue to be confined in segregated facilities and special schools, suffering from stigma and discrimination. The report says that although the approach to disabled children in the region has been improving, there is not enough state support. Experts say that the fact that so many children are placed in institutions reflects economic desperation which leads struggling families to put their children in care for want of alternatives, as well as a traditional communist-era attitude that institutionalisation is the best solution.
Forgotten Czech net bag makes a comeback
Iconic Czech brands that survived competition from the West after the fall of communism
Czechs and Germans in 1930s Czechoslovakia: a complex picture
Cold War “king of Šumava” story brought to life in new film by Irish director
Unions: Strike Wednesday will hit most Czech schools