Around a hundred members of the Czech counter-terrorist unit have left for Afghanistan, Chief-of-Staff Pavel Stefka told reporters on Thursday. The soldiers will join the rest of the unit who had arrived in the country in April to take part in the US-led operation Enduring Freedom. The contingent is similar to one sent to Afghanistan two years ago; it had 120 members and was under United States command. Currently there are another two Czech contingents serving in Afghanistan, but they operate under NATO command.
A report by the Interior Ministry says that last month the lowest number of people applied for asylum in the Czech Republic since 1999. Asylum applications were filed by 218 foreigners in April, most of them from Ukraine and Kazakhstan, followed by Belarus, Turkey and Russia. Since 1990, more than 82,000 foreigners have applied for asylum in the Czech Republic. Asylum was granted to almost 3,000.
A Czech government delegation has signed an agreement in South Korea with Hyundai Motor on the construction of the company's new car plant in Nosovice in North Moravia. The document was signed by the Czech Trade and Industry Minister Milan Urban and the vice-president of Huyndai Motor Kim Dong-jin. Minister Urban said that he is not afraid that the current investigation into the financial scandal in the company could delay the construction. Hyundai is planning to invest some 800 million dollars in the Czech Republic.
Another poll by the STEM agency suggests that Culture Minister Vitezslav Jandak remains the most popular politician in the Czech Republic, with 70 percent of public support. He is followed by three Social Democrat politicians - Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Education Minister Petra Buzkova and PM and party chairman Jiri Paroubek. Prague Mayor and opposition Civic Democrat deputy chairman Pavel Bem came fifth in the poll. President Vaclav Klaus was not included in the poll.
According to a poll carried out by the SC&C agency, around fifty percent of Czechs would support a total ban on smoking in public areas, including restaurants, while 41 percent are against it. The poll suggests that supporters of the ban prevail among women, senior citizens and followers of the Christian Democrat Party, whose deputy Josef Janecek has repeatedly failed to push through the ban in the lower house of the Czech parliament.
The Czech international footballer Tomas Galasek has signed a new two-year contract with Germany's Nuremburg, after leaving Ajax Amsterdam on a free transfer. Galasek, who is 33, has been playing in the Dutch league since 1996. He was appointed Czech national captain after Pavel Nedved quit, though it is not clear whether he or Nedved will captain the Czech Republic at the World Cup in Germany, after the Juventus midfielder made a return to international football.
The Supreme Court has taken the final step to fully rehabilitate late political prisoner Viktorin Heller as it annulled the last verdict imposed on him by the Communist judiciary in the 1950s, the Supreme Court informed on its website. The Supreme Court dealt with Mr Heller's case upon the proposal by the Justice Ministry. In 1955, Mr Heller was sentenced to 10 years in prison for high treason and theft of state property. As a high-ranking member of the Czechoslovak Sokol (Falcon) sport community, he was charged with subverting the communist regime and theft of state property. After the collapse of communism in 1989, the courts partially rehabilitated Mr Heller, but they did not annul the sentence for alleged property crime completely.
The former rector of Prague's Charles University, Ivan Wilhelm, has
been appointed the new government commissioner for European research.
The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. As
commissioner, it will be Mr Wilhelm's task to coordinate research
activities and oversee their inclusion in EU projects. He will also
cooperate, for example, on proposals like Europroject Terezin - aimed
at seeing Terezin become home to a centre on Holocaust Studies,
involving cooperation by other European universities.
The new commissioner is to take up his post at the beginning of June.
The cabinet has approved a 1.4 million crown (64,000 US dollars) subsidy for NATO's training mission in Iraq - the Czech Republic also provided a subsidy for the mission last year. At its summit in Istanbul two years ago NATO chose to establish a military training academy near Baghdad: Germany, the Netherlands and the US are the main contributors. Five Czech military instructors are part of that mission, while the largest part of the Czech contingent operates on the British base Shaiba in northern Iraq. About 100 Czech military policemen train local officers there.
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