Deputy Prime Minister Jiri Cunek has apologised for remarks he made about
Romanies. But, speaking on a TV debate programme, he also said Romanies
who were offended by his comments had not understood what he was trying to
say. Asked last week by a newspaper whether other people should receive
state subsidies like Romanies, Mr Cunek said non-Roma would need to get a
suntan, cause chaos with their families and light fires on town squares
before politicians would regard them as badly off.
Jiri Cunek rose to national prominence last year after expelling Romany rent-defaulters from the centre of the town of Vsetin, where he was then mayor.
Mr Cunek, who is leader of the Christian Democrats and regional development minister, is currently under police investigation for alleged bribe-taking when he was mayor of Vsetin. He has resisted calls to resign from the government.
The Regional Development Ministry has completed a digital database of graves in the Czech Republic, the website iDnes reported. It contains information on those buried in almost 6,000 cemeteries around the country. The ministry's website (www.mmr.cz) gives information on the land registry, graveyard operators, size, ownership rights and even GPS satellite coordinates. Fifty-six percent of graveyards are owned by municipalities, while 34 percent belong to religious groups.
The Sudoku World Championships in Prague have been won by an American, Thomas Snyder. The final was attended by Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who said he completes a Sudoku puzzle every night before going to bed. No Czechs made it to the final, though the Czech Republic did come third in the team category. Some 140 contestants from 31 countries took part in the Sudoku championships, which were held for the second time this year.
The Czech Republic and several other former communist states should
keep pushing for visa-free travel to the United States until they have
it "in black and white", the Czech foreign minister, Karel
Schwarzenberg, said in Germany's Bremen on Saturday. Mr Schwarzenberg
organised a discussion with colleagues from Slovenia, Poland, Hungary,
Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia on the sidelines of a meeting of European
Union foreign ministers in the city. Afterwards the eastern European
foreign ministers issued a statement praising the steps taken so far by
Washington to broaden its visa-waiver programme.
Meanwhile, Canada is this month to begin considering whether to allow Czechs visa-free entrance, according to Prague's Canadian Embassy. A spokesperson said Canada would weigh a number of factors, including number of rejected visa applications, security in the Czech Republic and the country's observance of human rights.
The Czech racing driver Tomas Enge is in hospital after crashing during an American Le Mans Series race in the city of St Petersburg. Enge sustained broken ribs, a lung injury and a broken arm when his car hit a wall. His manager said he was in a stable condition and could communicate. In 2001 Enge became the first Czech driver to take part in Formula 1, when he completed three races as a substitute.
The Czech Republic is the most successful of the ten states which joined the European Union in 2004 in terms of acquiring protected status for its traditional foodstuffs, the Czech Press Agency reported. Czechs now have six protected foods on the EU list, including Stramberk Ears and Pohorelice carp. Winning a place on the list means that such foods cannot be made anywhere else. Six products is some way behind France and Italy with around 150 trademarked foods each, but it is still more than the other nine countries which joined the EU three years ago.
Czech police have failed to find evidence of fraud in security vetting at the National Security Office and have shelved an investigation into the matter after three years, Aktualne.cz reported. An internal audit at the National Security Office uncovered dubious practices in the granting of the security clearance needed by individuals and companies handling strategic data. This was confirmed by classified reports by the civilian counter intelligence service and former security office employees. However, police now say they lack the necessary evidence to file charges against any individual, Aktualne said.
The post of president of the Czech police force should be for a fixed period only, the minister of the interior, Ivan Langer, said on Sunday. Vladimir Husak recently resigned as police chief after media allegations that he was involved in a corruption scandal and the leak of information to a Russian agent. Mr Husak denied the allegations but said he did not wish to damage the reputation of the force. He has been appointed head of the foreigners' police. Jan Brazda became acting police president on Sunday.
The post office in the west Bohemian town of Kraslice has begun stamping Easter postcards with a symbol of the Christian holiday, a week before it begins. Kraslice is the Czech word for Easter egg. To get the Easter stamp people must send a stamped addressed postcard in an envelope by April 13, a spokesperson for Czech Post told the Novinky news website. The Kraslice post office puts Easter symbols on tens of thousands of cards at this time every year. However, numbers have fallen somewhat, due to the popularity of email and mobile phone text-messaging.
Agriculture Minister Petr Gandalovic wants new tax and social welfare reforms to include the abolition of gift tax in the case that a farmer gives his property to his child, Aktualne.cz reported. The move would save young farmers hundreds of thousands or even millions of crowns. Minister Gandalovic said it could also help improve the age structure in Czech agriculture. The government is due to announce a raft of tax and welfare reforms this week.
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Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott
In memoriam: Karel Gott, the ‘Bohemian nightingale’