A high ranking police officer has reported that organised crime groups are influencing the state administration. Speaking before Parliament's Defence and Security Committee, the head of the Czech Police's elite organised crime unit, Jan Kubice, said on Monday that investigations of three serious cases have shown that some politicians are tied to organised crime groups. Mr Kubice says the evidence he has to back his claim is confidential. He presented it to the parliamentary committee during its closed session on Monday afternoon.
A group of Czech filmmakers have withdrawn their productions from a prestigious international film festival in Moravia in protest at what they call a lack of support for the Czech film industry by politicians. In their last session before the elections, Czech deputies failed to overturn a presidential veto of higher financial support for filmmakers last week. In protest, films such as Restart (director Julius Sevcik), Shark in the Head (director Maria Prochazkova), Still Living (director Pavel Gobl) and The City of the Sun (director Martin Sulik), have been taken out of the prestigious 46th Zlin International Film Festival for Children and the Youth. The festival was launched on Monday and will screen 410 films from 35 countries until Saturday.
Residents of Prague's Dolni Cernosice district have been cut off from the rest of the world after continuous rain flooded the only road that connects them to the city. Levels of the nearby Berounka River have begun to recede but meteorologists say more heavy rain is expected in the next few days. The situation in most parts of the country that were also flooded this weekend has also calmed. The heavy rain has resulted in dozens of millions of crowns in damages so far.
Some 2,000 Czechs are believed to die every year from illnesses resulting from passive smoking, the director of the Czech Coalition against Tobacco Katerina Langrova said on Monday ahead of World No Tobacco Day, which is marked every year on March 31 by anti-tobacco lobbyists around the globe. In a campaign this week, Czech tobacco control advocates hope to help and persuade non-smokers to fight against passive smoking. Smoke is tolerated at concerts or in restaurants simply because many non-smokers are unaware that they have the right and means to fight for clean air, Mrs Langrova says.
The Czech Republic will send neither rescue teams nor humanitarian aid to earthquake hit Indonesia. The government has released five million crowns (around 225,000 US dollars) in financial aid instead, the foreign ministry announced on Monday. Saturday's 7.6 magnitude earthquake on the island of Java has claimed more than 5,000 lives. An estimated 20,000 people are injured and hundreds of thousands are displaced.
A three-day annual literary marathon has begun in Prague, dedicated to
Czech writer Arnost Lustig who turns eighty this year. Until Wednesday,
students, artists, politicians, but also book lovers will read 15
minute excerpts from a work by Mr Lustig or any other Czech or Slovak
writer. Among the politicians expected to take part are former justice
minister Jaroslav Bures, former TV magnate Vladimir Zelezny, and former
Prague mayor Jan Kasl. The current Mayor of Prague, Pavel Bem, launched
the marathon, which takes place at Prague's Jazz Section.
The event will be accompanied by exhibitions of photographs depicting the life of Arnost Lustig and of publications by the Mlada Fronta publishing house. The literary marathon will continue in Czech Centres in Kiev, Kosice, Stockholm, the Hague, and Warsaw.
The fourth annual Sustainable Development Week was launched in Prague on Monday. Until June 2, conferences, workshops, presentations and discussions will be held at various venues around Prague focusing on sustainable production and consumption. The project is organised by the Czech Environment Ministry in co-operation with the French, British, and the Swiss embassies.
The Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and the head of the right-of-centre
Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek have disagreed over whether or not a
Parliamentary committee's session on Monday should be open to the
media. The Committee for Defence and Security will meet to discuss new
allegations in the so-called "bio fuel case" - following a
the head of the police unit for investigating organised crime. Its
head, Jan Kubice, said this week that a campaign was being run to
discredit the unit's officers investigating corruption in the recent
bio fuel tender. It has been suggested that there might be links between
the case and the January murder of businessman Frantisek Mrazek.
The prime minister has called for all proceedings on Monday to be open to be televised, but the Civic Democrats' Mirek Topolanek has disagreed. He says that under such circumstances the police unit head would be unable to disclose classified information.
The chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, and the leader of the country's largest opposition party, the Civic Democrat's Mirek Topolanek, have faced off in a special televised debate. The programme was broadcast live by public broadcaster Czech TV on Sunday. It focused on key issues in this year's election run-up, including the state of health care and health care reforms, corruption, the state of the economy, and foreign policy issues - namely the future of the European Union. The debate comes less than a week before Czechs go to the polls - on June 2nd and 3rd - to decide on the country's next government.
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Screenshot: a hybrid English-friendly Prague art-house cinema where screenings are events