Canada is unlikely to lift visa obligations for Czechs next month, according to the Czech foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda. His Canadian counterpart, Peter MacKay, was due to announce the step on a visit to Prague in June, but Mr Svoboda said the trip had been cancelled. He said, however, that the Canadian government would continue to discuss the issue. During a recent visit to Canada, Mr Svoboda said Prague would take reciprocal measures unless Ottawa lifted its visa restrictions.
The Czech football players Rudolf Skacel, Roman Bednar and Michal Pospisil are celebrating helping their Scottish club Hearts qualify for the Champions League. The three were in action on Wednesday as Hearts beat Aberdeen to secure second place in the Scottish Premier League and reach the prestigious competition for the first time. Skacel is Hearts' top scorer this season with 16 goals.
The minister of agriculture, Jan Mladek, does not have a "confidential" category security clearance, after having an application refused by the National Security Office five years ago, Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Thursday. No official reason has been given, but the daily suggests Mr Mladek, a deputy finance minister in 2001, had contacts with Russian businessmen who Czech intelligence had under surveillance. He resigned from the post after the vetting rejection and kept it secret, the paper said.
A Czech government delegation is to leave for Seoul, South Korea, on May 15th to sign a one billion euro contract with the South Korean car maker Hyundai which is to build a car plant in the Czech Republic. Hyundai Motor officials confirmed earlier this week that the project would go ahead despite the fact that the company's chairman is embroiled in an embezzlement scandal. A ceremony to mark the beginning of construction at the Nosovice plant, in the northeast of the Czech Republic, has been postponed indefinitely.
The European arrest warrant continues to be valid in the Czech Republic after the Constitutional Court on Wednesday rejected a proposal by opposition Civic Democrats to abolish related provisions in the penal code. They claimed that the European arrest warrant contravenes the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and "interferes with the foundations of the law-abiding state". The arrest warrant makes it possible to extradite Czech citizens abroad for criminal prosecution which, the court said, is not anti-constitutional. Judge Frantisek Duchon said that Czech citizens had to "accept a certain portion of responsibility" while benefiting from EU membership.
The European Union has criticised the Czech Republic in a recent report for sending Roma children to special schools for those with learning difficulties. The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) said that the Czech along with the Slovak and Hungarian governments must do more for the children's integration and for ensuring equal access to education. The report calls on countries to include more information on Romany culture and history in text books. Some 250,000 Roma live in the Czech Republic according to unofficial data but out of 25,000 Romany juveniles only 6 percent are said to study at secondary schools.
The police officer who allegedly beat up a government human rights official on Monday has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation. Katerina Jacques, a senior official from the government's human rights section, and Green party politician, was demonstrating against a neo-Nazi gathering in Prague. She says she was thrown to the ground, kicked and beaten with a truncheon before being handcuffed and taken away for questioning. The Prime Minister has sharply criticized the police action, saying such behaviour was inexcusable and the officer responsible should be sacked. Both the interior minister Frantisek Bublan and the police president Vladislav Husak have said they consider the use of force against Jacques inappropriate and have promised a thorough investigation.
Customs officials in the Most region of North West Bohemia have uncovered a stock of illegally produced alcoholic spirits during an inspection of three locations around the area. A production line of around 8,500 litres of barrelled spirits and over 11,500 unlicensed bottles of liquor worth around 3 million crowns (more than 130,000 dollars) were discovered, a Customs Department spokesman revealed. Two suspects were also detained during the operation, and, if convicted, could face up to 12 years in prison. An investigation is now underway.
President Vaclav Klaus has criticised negative campaigning ahead of the June parliamentary elections. He said that what was happening had never been the case in the past, that it is dishonest and could mislead voters. His comments came in response to a student's query regarding the billboard posters of the ruling Social Democrats which parody the opposition Civic Democrats slogan "ODS plus" with one which reads "ODS minus", as he visited a Prague secondary school on Wednesday. President Klaus said that a negative campaign is outrageous and questioned why it is not punishable. The right-of-centre Civic Democrats have also reacted to the approach, calling it "deplorable".
Archaeologists unearth seven graves dating back to Great Moravian Empire
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