Former TV Nova boss Vladimir Zelezny has been elected chairman of the Independent Democrats, at the party's inaugural conference in Prague. Mr Zelezny, who is a member of the European Parliament, said the party was aiming to enter the Chamber of Deputies at next year's elections, and to play a part in the formation of the next government. The Independent Democrats, who so far have 500 members, look set to adopt policies critical of the European Union.
Czech triple-jumper Sarka Kasparkova failed to qualify for the final at the World Athletic Championships in Helsinki, the last major competition of her career. Kasparkova, who is 34, took bronze at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta before winning gold at the World Championships in Athens the following year.
Demonstrations have been held in Prague and Brno against the police's
break-up of the CzechTek free music festival last weekend. Over a hundred
people were injured on both sides after riot police used water cannon and
tear gas to disperse an estimated 5,000 festival participants. Protests
were also held at the Czech embassies in Paris and Berlin on Saturday.
There has been strong criticism of the police's actions from President Vaclav Klaus, his party the opposition Civic Democrats and former president Vaclav Havel. However, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan continue to insist the intervention was justified, though both men say some individual police officers may have broken regulations.
Investigations have been launched by both the police themselves and the Ombudsman's office.
Smoking is completely banned at 16 percent of Czech workplaces, while almost a quarter have indoor areas where smoking is permitted, according to a study released by the State Health Institute. Meanwhile, the Czech anti-smoking coalition says its research shows fifty percent of smokers would welcome a total workplace ban. A quarter of Czechs smoke every day, with the average smoker getting through seven cigarettes a day.
President Vaclav Klaus has appointed judge Vlasta Formankova to the Constitutional Court, after the Senate approved her nomination by a slight majority on Thursday. However, critics say she should not have been appointed, after it emerged that during the communist era she sentenced a pub manager to prison for ten months for insulting party members. Ms Formankova now says she was young at the time she handed down the verdict, which she describes as a mistake.
There has been a huge increase in the number of Czechs taking out
mortgages, thanks to low interest rates and concerted advertising
campaigns, Lidove noviny reported on Friday. All of the country's major
banks have recorded significant increases in the number of mortgages
they have sold, with CSOB bank, for instance, recording a rise of 106
Meanwhile, foreign real estate funds invested over 600 million US dollars in property in the Czech Republic in the first half of 2005, a year-on-year increase of 75 percent, Hospodarske noviny reported.
The Senate has passed a resolution saying that the police used
excessive force when they broke up the CzechTek free techno music
festival last weekend. It also called for a quick and thorough
investigation into the police's actions. On Thursday the police
announced that a special team had been set up to establish exactly what
happened; hundreds were injured on both sides after riot police used
water cannon and tear gas to disperse an estimated 5,000 festival
participants. The Ombudsman's office has also launched an
The issue has been dominating the headlines for the last week, with strong criticism of the police's actions from President Vaclav Klaus, his party the opposition Civic Democrats and former president Vaclav Havel. However, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan continue to insist the intervention was justified, though both men say some individual police officers may have broken regulations.
A new show by Irish-dancer Michael Flatley due to be performed in Prague later this month has been cancelled. The "Celtic Tiger" show had been postponed from an original date in early July. Its Prague backers have sued Mr Flatley for damages after the latest cancellation. The Chicago-born performer rose to world fame with "Lord of the Dance".
In related news, the Czech ombudsman, Otakar Motejl, said on Thursday that his office would launch its own independent investigation, focusing on steps taken by the authorities and police to disband the CzechTek event, in which dozens of techno fans and police were injured on Saturday. Police had used tear gas, stun grenades, batons and water cannons to disperse the crowds, whom the government say were trespassing on private property. This week, thousands of mostly young people held daily demonstrations outside the Interior Ministry and at other Prague locations in protest of the police action, and Mr Motejl said the ombudsman's office had received numerous complaints.
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