President Vaclav Klaus has begun a 12-day foreign tour, which will include a heavy emphasis on economic relations. Mr. Klaus' first stop is the Russian city of Omsk, where representatives of Czech companies will sign contracts in the tens of millions of Euros. Mr. Klaus will pay a state visit to Mongolia on Monday, and then continue on to visit the Chinese province of Shen-si, Vietnam, and Singapore. The President is accompanied by his wife, Livia, and about 40 representatives of Czech firms looking to do business in Asia. The trip is one of the most extensive that Mr. Klaus has undertaken has President. He is expected to return to Prague on October 5.
The Czech capital, Prague, is in its second day of a high-alert security
watch. Special security measures were enacted at 4am on Saturday, after an
extraordinary session of the Czech cabinet decided to increase security
measures in the capital city because of a possible terrorist threat.
Prague's Ruzyne airport has implemented what are being described as
"massive security measures," though no flights have been
cancelled. The city centre and other possible targets are also being
patrolled by additional specialized police units, and the police chief
says that there is no need to call for the army's assistance at this time.
Surveillance in the city is assisted by 1100 cameras, 600 of which are in
the metro system. Czech Interior Minister Ivan Langer has stressed that it
is the first time that the Czech Republic faces such a concrete threat.
The daily Pravo's on-line service, Novinky, reports that the terrorist threat is related to the Jewish New Year, and that Prague's Jewish district of Josefov likely faces the most serious threat. Speaking at a press conference, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said that he would neither deny nor confirm the reports. Authorities have said that the situation in the Czech capital is connected to Friday's developments in Norway, where four men were arrested and police are said to have uncovered a terrorist plot to bomb the Israeli and American embassies in Norway.
An inmate at the Brno prison has made a dramatic escape attempt. The incident happened late Saturday, when an inmate started a fire inside the prison, forcing its evacuation. Then, amidst the thick smoke the man attempted to escape. A spokesman for the prison said that the inmate was captured, but suffered numerous injuries.
Speaking on the Sunday TV program Otazky Vaclava Moravce, the head of the committee on security in the lower house, Frantisek Bublan, said that the issue of a terrorist threat in Prague will be on the table for discussion at Monday's meeting of the security committee. Mr. Bublan said that he feels initial intelligence information of recent weeks wasn't taken very seriously by the Czech authorities, and that the situation only escalated given developments in Norway on Friday. Mr. Bublan added that the possible terrorist threat is a signal that the Czech Republic belongs to the European family of states, and that it must face the accompanying circumstances head-on.
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel has been awarded the Prize for Understanding between Nationalities and Peoples of Europe. The prize was awarded over the weekend in Pasov, Germnay by the media consortium Verlagsgruppe Passau. Also receiving the same award was Madeleine Albright, the former U.S. Secretary of State, who is of Czech origin. The prize is given to persons who have contributed significantly to the development of democracy, the protection of human rights, and encouraged understanding between different nationalities. The Verlagsgruppe Passau group first awarded the prize in 2005 to the former Israeli prime minister, Simon Peres.
The extraordinary security measures have also inspired several prank
callers, complicating the situation for police. The first serious
threat came on Saturday, shortly after the news of the terrorist threat
was made public. A bomb threat forced the closure of Prague's metro
line 'C', but a police investigation found nothing.
An anonymous bomb threat was also called in to the Marriott hotel in Prague 3 early Sunday morning, forcing the evacuation of 200 hotel guests. Police searched the premises but found no explosives. Police are warning that if the prank callers are identified and found guilty, they face up to five years in jail.
During the course of this weekend, the presidential residence of Lany near Prague is opening its doors to the public. The Prague Castle administration decided on the open door event to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the purchase of the Lany chateaux, which is the official residence of the head of state. During the course of the past 50 years, the baroque chateaux has only been opened for public viewing twice, during the months of March and September 2000.
Svatopluk Karasek has been dismissed as the government's human rights commissioner. In an interview for the daily Pravo, Mr. Karasek said that he was dismissed without reason, and the paper notes that the Civic Democratic cabinet did not make the information public at its regular press conference following the Wednesday decision. Reacting to the news at a press conference on Saturday, Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek said that while he and Mr. Karasek did not always get along and are not men of the same blood, Mr. Karasek did his job well since being appointed in November 2004. Mr. Karasek has been replaced by former Civic Democratic MP Jan Litomisky.