Prague Mayor Pavel Bem says reaching the top of Mount Everest was an indescribable experience. Speaking upon arriving at Prague Airport on Monday evening, a bearded Mr Bem denied he had undertaken the climb to increase his political profile; he said climbing was his hobby or even life-style. Referring to criticism of his decision to take two months' leave as Prague mayor, Mr Bem said nothing dramatic had happened in the capital in his absence. On May 18th he became only the tenth Czech to reach the summit of the world's highest mountain.
Two ministers in the first post-communist Czechoslovak government collaborated with the StB secret police, military intelligence spokesman Ladislav Sticha said on Tuesday. Richard Sacher, who was interior minister, and Miroslav Vacek, who served as defence minister, had ties to the StB's counter-intelligence service, Mr Sticha said. Both men's terms ended by the close of 1990.
The Prague authorities say there will be considerable disruption to
transport in the city during a visit by US President George Bush at the
beginning of next week. Cars will not be allowed to stop along any of the
routes Mr Bush is expected to take on Monday evening or during the day on
Tuesday. The biggest restrictions are due around Prague Castle, which will
be closed off.
George Bush will discuss plans to build a US radar base in the Czech Republic with the country's president, Vaclav Klaus, and prime minister, Mirek Topolanek. He is also due to deliver a key-note speech at a conference, and may visit the Radio Free Europe headquarters in the centre of the Czech capital.
Oldrich Martinu is to become the new head of the Czech police, Interior Minister Ivan Langer announced on Tuesdsay. Mr Martinu, who is currently serving as deputy police president, will replace Vladislav Husak; he resigned in March after allegations of impropriety and is now head of the foreigners' police.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek says his biggest mistake was not scaring
the Czech public enough about what could happen if social, tax and health
reforms are not carried out. Speaking at a seminar in the Senate, Mr
Topolanek said the situation was dismal and he should have issued a
sterner warning to voters when he first unveiled the government's reform
plans. The Chamber of Deputies is due to vote on the reform package at the
start of next month. If it does not pass, the prime minister says he will
push for early elections.
Meanwhile, the director of the Czech central bank, Zdenek Tuma, said on Tuesday that the reforms were a step in the right direction. However, he said they were a first step towards stabilising the public finances in the short term, and did not guarantee their sustainability in the long term.
Sparta Prague have won the Czech (previously Czechoslovak) football league for the 34th time, after taking all three points in their final game of the season on Monday. The win makes them the only team to achieve a Czech league and cup double since the split of Czechoslovakia. Slavia Prague came second in the league, followed by Mlada Boleslav.
The Czech government failed to justify adequately the leasing of 14 Gripen fighter planes three years ago, the Supreme Audit Office has said. Leasing the jets has cost the state around 20 billion CZK (around 1 billion USD). The Defence Ministry has rejected the charge, saying the country needed the planes and it had first wanted 24 of them. The SAO also said there was a lack of pilots trained to fly Gripens as well as suitable technical staff.
The regional court in Hradec Kralove has acquitted former choirmaster Bohumil Kulinsky who was accused of sexually abusing two underage female members of the Bambini di Praga children's choir. Mr Kulinsky faces prosecution in another 47 cases of alleged sexual abuse of choir members. Bohumil Kulinsky says he is innocent. He had been acquitted by the Hradec Kralove court last year for lack of evidence but an appeals court annulled the verdict and returned the case to the regional court.
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