Members of the town hall of Havlickuv Brod, East Bohemia, say that a fence that could be erected to separate a town-owned building occupied by rent defaulters from other privately owned houses is not an issue of ethnicity. The building houses Roma as well as non-Roma families who have reportedly been bothering the inhabitants of nearby houses with disorderly behaviour and poor sanitary habits. Deputy mayor of Havlickuv Brod Libor Honzarek said that the objective is not to close off one community from another, but rather to establish basic principles of co-existence. It remains unclear when the fence will be built as well as its precise location. A similar project involving construction of a fence was carried out in Usti nad Labem, North Bohemia, in 1999. The local town hall was heavily criticized by human rights organisations and eventually pulled the fence down.
The remains of Rudolf Firkusny, a Czech-born pianist who died in the United States in 1994, will be transported to the Czech Republic. One of the great concert pianists of the 20th century, Rudolf Firkusny left Czechoslovakia in 1939 and again in 1948 to escape the communist regime. He became known especially for his performances of Bohemian and Moravian composers Bedrich Smetana, Antonin Dvorak, Leos Janacek and Bohuslav Martinu. Mr Firkusny's remains will be interred on September 10 at the central cemetery in Brno.
Independent senator Jana Jurencakova has resigned as the head of the Senate Committee for Expatriates. Ms Jurencakova had been criticized by some Czech and Slovak expatriate associations in Switzerland and Canada. She joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in 1988; for most Czech emigrants, it was communist rule that made them leave the country and settle elsewhere. Ms Jurencakova will be replaced at the head of the committee by fellow independent senator Josef Zoser. The change is expected to be approved at the next session of the Czech Parliament's upper chamber on September 20.
A record number of almost 100,000 students will enter Czech universities in the next academic year beginning in autumn, the daily Hospodarske noviny reported. Each year, the number of students attending universities in the Czech Republic rises by about 10,000. Two months ago, however, the Ministry of Education announced that this will not be possible due to the lack of finances. On Wednesday, Education Minister Dana Kuchtová, of the Green Party, said that the Finance Ministry will release about one billion crowns for the purposes of university education which should cover the costs of an additional 10,000 students. University rectors claim that the amount to be released is still far from sufficient.
Scientists at Masaryk University in Brno have come up with a new method of disposal of yperite, or mustard gas. The poison gas, first used by the German Army during WWI, can be liquidated by special enzymes that disintegrate its structure. The university has already registered the method in the Czech Republic. The new technology can be used for better protection against the gas as well as for disposal of excessive mustard gas stocks.
Brno district prosecutor Petr Coufal has dropped a complaint filed against his subordinate prosecutor Arif Salichov in the case of Deputy Prime Minister Jiri Cunek. The Christian Democrats leader had been accused of taking bribes when he served as the mayor of Vsetin, North Moravia. After a six-month investigation, the case was taken away from the prosecutors in the nearby town of Prerov, and Arif Salichov was appointed to represent the state in this matter. In July, Mr Salichov dropped the case against Mr Cunek, citing lack of evidence and bad police work, which made prosecutors from Prerov file the complaint.
The Czech cabinet approved an updated strategy of the adoption of the euro on Wednesday. The new strategy does not contain any benchmark for the adoption of the single European currency but Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said the euro could be, under certain circumstances, adopted in 2012, as originally proposed. According to the Czech government, the main obstacles preventing the replacement of the Czech crown by the euro is the bad state of public finances and low flexibility of Czech economy. The eventual deadline for the adoption of the euro will depend on when these issues are resolved.
Greece will not use a Czech helicopter to extinguish extensive forest fires that broke out in the Peloponnese peninsula, a Czech foreign ministry spokesperson said. The Czech Republic had offered to send a police helicopter equipped to extinguish fire during flight. However, the Greek authorities announced that due to help from international community, the country has now enough resources to bring the fires to an end. The Czech foreign ministry informed that about five million crowns, or almost 250,000 U.S. dollars, have been released to help Greece.
The Czech police have accused five people of corruption involving Defence Ministry tenders, the daily Pravo writes. According to the paper's Tuesday edition one civil servant and four businesspeople have been accused of trying to influence who won various lucrative tenders, including cleaning and catering service contracts and orders for the renovation of army buildings. Pravo claims the charges are part of a large-scale investigation involving high-ranking ministry officials and half a billion Czech crowns or nearly 25 million US dollars.
Czech pole-vaulter Katerina Badurova has won silver and broken the Czech national record at the World Athletics Championships in Osaka, Japan. Her first vault of 475 cm in the final of the event on Tuesday broke her own previous record by 5 cm. It was also enough to earn her second place in the discipline, 5 cm below Russian world-record holder Yelena Isinbayeva.
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