The government has decided to award the Czech Brain prize to Armin Delong, the founder of electron microscopy and initiator of the production of world-competitive electron microscopes. Together with the award Professor Delong will receive one million crowns (over 40,000 dollars). Armin Delong, 80, is best-known for his pioneering work in holography, emission electron microscopy and slow electron microscopy. Most recently he has focused on low-voltage scanning microscopy which is used in biology.
Czech Agriculture Minister Petr Zgarba will resign from office next week, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek announced on Thursday. Mr Zgarba is the chairman of the Czech Land Fund which is responsible for the sale and management of state-owned land. The Fund's Board has been accused of corruption after it was discovered that it sold property to speculators that is now worth hundreds of times the asking price. Mr Zgarba plans to step down from his post as agriculture minister on Wednesday, November 16. Mr Zgarba will be succeeded by Social Democrat Member of Parliament Jan Mladek.
Doctors report that the Czech peacekeeper who was wounded in Kosovo on Tuesday is now in stable condition. The peacekeeper was wounded in a cross-fire between NATO-led troops and illegal loggers who ignored the patrol's warning shots and demands that they stop their activity. Following the incident, the local police force arrested seven ethnic Albanians, one of whom was also wounded in the shoot-out. The Czech soldier received first aid on the spot and was air-lifted to a local hospital.
Renata Vesecka has been appointed Supreme State Attorney. She replaces Marie Benesova, who was dismissed in late September following numerous disputes with Justice Minister Pavel Nemec. Mrs. Vesecka was asked to run the Supreme State Attorney's Office on a temporary basis and the government said it was convinced she was the right candidate for a permanent position. The Justice Minister proposed her appointment saying she had handled the job with skill and responsibility.
The Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda is said to have received anonymous death threats because of his hard-line policy on Cuba. A police spokesman confirmed the news on Wednesday saying that the threats had been directed against the foreign minister and his immediate family. One of the anonymous phone calls in which the caller threatened to shoot Mr. Svoboda was recorded by the police. Mr. Svoboda and his family are getting round the clock protection. The Czech Republic has led a drive for the EU to re-impose sanctions against Cuba and the Czech Foreign Ministry is vocal in its criticism of human rights violations on the island.
Police are still hunting for two convicted murderers who escaped from a high security prison house in Plzen on Tuesday. The convicts escaped with the aid of a guard by hiding in a service truck. The head of the Plzen-Bory prison in western Bohemia has been sacked and Justice Minister Pavel Nemec has ordered a full investigation. Escaped convict Roman Cabrada is a drug dealer who was serving time for the murder of a German mayor two years ago. The other inmate, Rostislav Roztocil, had killed an Egyptian student. An e-mail from his sister in Germany suggests he may already have escaped from the Czech Republic.
The Vietnamese branch of Interpol and Czech police have announced the safe return home of scores of young women tricked into prostitution in the Czech Republic and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Vietnamese media reported that among them were some fifty women and girls who had been rescued from illegal brothels in the Czech Republic. Interpol said that organised gangs had made victims believe they'd won a free trip abroad. Several alleged gang members have been arrested.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has reportedly given Agriculture Minister Petr Zgarba a one-week deadline to introduce new controls to make the sale of state-owned land more transparent. State officials - including Minister Zgarba, who is also chairman of the Czech Land Fund - are suspected of having sold state property at well below market rates, possibly for personal gain. No charges have been filed, but two Fund employees were been dismissed earlier this week, and Mr Zgarba is to replace his vice chairman. An internal audit at the Land Fund is underway.
Year-on-year inflation rose to 2.6 percent in October, the fastest growth so far this year, the Czech Statistical Office said on Tuesday. Inflation had reached 2.2 percent in September. The main reason for the jump was higher fuel costs. The Czech National Bank had surprised the markets last week by raising rates a quarter point, to 2 percent, in an effort to curb inflationary pressures. Many economists now predict inflation could reach 4 percent next year and expect the central bank to raise interest rates another quarter point in January.
Farmers in the region of Ostrava where the South Korean carmaker Hyundai is considering investing some $ 1.2 billion for a new car plant have agreed in principle to a land exchange --and unspecified compensation from the government -- for making the move. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek had hinted last month that the state could force the farmers to accept a deal. The stand off mirrored an obstacle that the Hyundai affiliate Kia Motor faced when in 2002 it tried to buy land for its first European factory, in neighbouring Slovakia.
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