Just hours ahead of President Putin's arrival, former Czech president Vaclav Havel and several world-renowned statesmen launched an attack on Mr Putin and his policies in a text published in a Czech newspaper. The group, led by Mr Havel and including former UN Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson and Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu, sharply accused Mr Putin of "censorship" of information from Chechnya and called for the world to stop "closing its eyes" to atrocities taking place in Chechnya.
A poll carried out by the CVVM agency suggests that 23 percent of Czechs would vote for the ruling Social Democrats if elections were held tomorrow, 4 percent less than last month. On the other hand, support for the Green party has increased to 6 percent compared to 2.5 percent in January. The opposition Civic Democrats lead the poll with 28.5 percent of public support. The Communists would get some 11.5 percent and the Christian Democrats are supported by 7.5 percent of voters, according to the poll.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Prague for his first official visit to the Czech Republic. During his two-day visit, Mr Putin is expected to discuss energy issues as well as economic, cultural and military cooperation with an emphasis on the war against terrorism. His first engagement on Wednesday was meeting with his Czech counterpart President Vaclav Klaus.
Czech fixed-line operator Cesky Telecom, whose majority owner is Spanish phone giant Telefonica, has announced that it will merge with its wholly owned mobile-telephone business, Eurotel. The merged company to be named Telefonica O2 faces increased competition on the converging Czech telecoms market. T-Mobile, owned by Deutsche Telekom, jousts with Eurotel for the top spot among mobile operators and Vodafone is third, following its acquisition of Oskar Mobile from Canada-based TIW last year.
The Czech company Explosia, which produces the plastic explosive Semtex and owns the rights to the trademark, has said it launched legal action to prevent American pop-star Madonna from misusing its most valued and internationally-recognized asset. The pop singer was revealed to have registered a company in Britain called "Semtex Girls Limited". Production of Semtex began in the 1960s but only became widely known in the 1980s as a favourite tool for terrorists because it was virtually undetectable. Because of the threat of global terrorism, the company has added a substance to make it easily detectable and now makes only small amounts of Semtex for use by the army and a number of Czech companies.
On an official visit to the Czech Republic the Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhannen said his country would open its doors to workers from the Czech Republic and the European Union's nine other new members as of April. The Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek thanked his Finnish counterpart, saying that he hoped other EU countries would follow Finland's example. At the moment only three of the EU's old members -Britain, Ireland and Sweden - have welcomed workers from the newcomer states. Portugal and Spain are believed to be considering a similar move.
Jiri Vyvadil has been recalled from his post of deputy justice minister and will now return to the Supreme Administrative Court. The decision was taken by the chairman of the country's court, Josef Baxa. Mr Baxa indicated that Mr Vyvadil did not sufficiently address judiciary reform in his post. But, Mr Vyvadil has primarily come under criticism in recent days for having met with controversial Czech businessman Tomas Pitr, appealing an eight-year sentence for tax evasion. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek allegedly knew about the meeting, which took place in January. Vyvadil's relocation has diffused growing tension between Justice Minister Pavel Nemec who intended to sack him and Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek who said he saw no reason for his dismissal.
The Czech Republic is to order a bigger supply of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu thought to be effective against the bird flu. The National Security Council approved the decision on Tuesday in connection with the growing incidence of bird flu on the Continent. The increased reserves should suffice for 20 percent of the Czech Republic's ten million inhabitants. In the event of a pandemic the government would be ready to finance a vaccine for approximately 60 percent of the population as soon as it is made available, with high risk groups getting priority.
Thomas McKeever, head of NATO's Security Office, is expected to pay a two day visit to the Czech Republic to discuss the situation at the National Security Office following the resignation of its head Jan Mares. Mares resigned earlier this month over suspected ties with a gang prosecuted for fraud and criminal conspiracy. The Czech Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan said there was concern at NATO headquarters as to possible information leaks. Mr. McKeever is expected to arrive in Prague on Thursday.
Forgotten Czech net bag makes a comeback
Czechs and Germans in 1930s Czechoslovakia: a complex picture
Iconic Czech brands that survived competition from the West after the fall of communism
Škoda unveils 4th-generation Octavia ahead of model’s 60th anniversary
15 years later – was ending military service right move for Czech Republic?