The Communist Party have suspended discussions on whether to back economist Jan Svejnar for the post of president in elections in early February, deputy leader Jiri Dolejs said. The Communists executive committee will wait to see whether Mr Svejnar has the genuine support of the Social Democrats; though the latter’s leader Jiri Paroubek has repeatedly expressed support for Mr Svejnar, the Communists believe some Social Democrat legislators may not actually back him in the bicameral vote. Jan Svejnar, who has spent most of his life in the USA, is supported by the Greens and is hoping to win the backing of the Christian Democrats. He is set to announce next week whether he is standing.
The Czech speed skater Martina Sablikova has been beaten in a long-track race for the first time this season. After winning her first three races, the world champion and world record holder finished second in the 3000 m behind home favourite Renate Groenewold in the Dutch town of Heerenveen on Friday.
A European arrest warrant has been issued for Frantisek Prochazka, who is wanted in connection with the biggest cash robbery in the history of the Czech Republic. Czech police have been searching for Mr Prochazka since the robbery of CZK 560 million from the Prague offices of a security firm where he worked last Saturday. The security company G4S has offered a reward of over CZK 50 million for information leading to the capture of Mr Prochazka or any possible accomplices.
Two little girls who were mixed up by hospital staff and raised by the wrong parents for the best part of a year have spent their first birthday together. The case of infants Veronika and Nicola made world headlines when it was discovered they had been accidentally swapped at birth at Trebic hospital a year ago. The two girls recently began living with their biological parents, the Brozs and the Cermaks. Both families are also planning to spend Christmas together.
The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolanek, was involved in a car crash during a rally in the capital on Saturday. Mr Topolanek was in the passenger’s seat when the crash occurred on a circuit at Prague’s Strahov. Neither he nor the driver Vaclav Pech was injured. Pech is one of the country’s leading rally drivers and has won the Czech national championship several times.
Meanwhile, Mr Svejnar has repeated his call for a public debate with the incumbent, Vaclav Klaus. In a statement, he said it would ensure maximum transparency in the vote and would help clarify President Klaus’s policies. Mr Klaus said, however, that he would not take part in such a debate because the post is decided by 281 deputies and senators.
Czech Television has criticised the awarding of an art prize to a group which sabotaged a live Czech TV broadcast, Lidove noviny reported. A spokesperson for the public channel told the newspaper that the presenting of the National Gallery award for young artists to the group Ztohoven had sent a very bad signal, as breaking the law had been recognized as art and rewarded. In June Ztohoven managed to superimpose an image of a nuclear mushroom cloud on live shots of a scenic area after tampering with a Czech TV camera.
The Czech presidential election will start on February 8 when a joint session of both houses of Czech parliament will take place, lower house chairman Miloslav Vlcek has told public broadcaster Czech TV. Incumbent Vaclav Klaus is the only official candidate so far, but economist Jan Svejnar may run against him if he receives sufficient support.
The Czech singer and pianist Marketa Irglova and Irish singer Glen Hansard have received two nominations for US Grammys in the category of Best Soundtrack. The two were nominated for the soundtrack to the independent film “Once”, which was shot in the Czech Republic two years ago and since received strong recognition. The nominations for the Grammy Awards were announced in Los Angeles on Thursday; the awards ceremony itself will take place in February next year.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has said that he expects Prague and Washington to conclude a treaty on the construction of a US radar base in the Czech Republic in early 2008, saying in Brussels on Friday that agreement could be reached sometime between January and March. The Czech government is negotiating on the radar project with the US even though the project is opposed by a majority of Czechs as well as the opposition. Russia has also been one of the main critics of the US plan to deploy the radar base to the Czech Republic as part of its planned missile defence shield in Central Europe.
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