The Czech Police anti-organised crime squad detained a group of 15 people on Friday suspected of distributing forged 100-dollar notes, a spokeswoman said. Thirteen people have been accused of currency counterfeiting. The estimated damage is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The members of the group are Czechs, Slovaks, the citizens of former Soviet countries and the former Yugoslavia and Syrian nationals.
The heads of the five parties in parliament are scheduled to meet next week to discuss the terms under which a popular vote could be introduced to elect Czech presidents. Those terms include also the powers of Czech heads of state. The chairmen of the Civic Democrats, the Social Democrats, the Communist Party, the Christian Democrats and the Green Party will be discussing the matter at a conference at the Senate on Wednesday. Czech heads of state are now elected by both houses of parliament. The parties in the current ruling coalition pledged in the coalition agreement signed in January this year they would launch a debate on the issue.
World number one Roger Federer beat Tomas Berdych 7:6 7:6 6:3 to bring Switzerland level at 2:2 with the Czech Republic on Sunday in their Davis Cup World Group playoff at Prague's Sazka Arena. Federer won his opening singles over Radek Stepanek on Friday but lost in the doubles on Saturday when he and his doubles partner Yves Allegro were defeated by Berdych and Radek Stepanek who gave the Czech Republic a 2:1 overnight lead.
Finance minister Miroslav Kalousek has said the government is going to privatise Prague's Ruzyne international airport next year. Speaking in a live debate on Prima television on Sunday, Mr Kalousek said the primary reason for the move was not money but rather a principle that "the state should not be doing business". Earlier this month, the government approved a proposal under which the state-owned company would transform into a joint stock company within eight months. Mr Kalousek also said the government wants to privatise the national carrier CSA, if not next year, then in 2009.
The chairman of the lower house Miloslav Vlcek says he would like to see the right of MPs and Senators to use public transport free of charge abolished and therefore he is going to propose to the lower house an amendment to the law on the remuneration of public officials. Mr Vlcek had earlier announced he would like to make the incomes of politicians more transparent and abolish some of their perks. The public and also some politicians have been critical of the current system but lawmakers have repeatedly rejected attempts at reducing these privileges.
The Centre for Transport Research has published an analysis according to which the road traffic law which came into force more than a year ago is not to blame for the continuing bad situation on Czech roads. It says the problem is poor enforcement of the legislation. The centre also says the media have been contributing to the grim road death statistics by encouraging drivers to be less disciplined. The study, commissioned by the Transport Ministry as a starting point for a planned amendment to the law, has not found major flaws in the legislation. In the past eight months, 714 people were killed on Czech roads, 22 percent more than in the first eight months of 2006. In the same period of last year the number was 586.
The Franz Kafka Society based in Prague says it has completed the publishing of Franz Kafka's collected works in Czech translation. It is now putting out the final, thirteenth tome containing Kafka's private correspondence. Eighty-three years after Franz Kafka's death, Czech readers have for the first time a chance to read the complete works of the Prague-born German Jewish writer, one of the most influential 20th century authors, translated into the Czech language. The project took ten years to complete and six translators have participated in it, including Vojtech Saudek, Franz Kafka's great-nephew.
The Czech NGO Clovek v tisni (People in Need), these days marking 15 years since its foundation, held a day of celebrations in Prague on Saturday. People in Need, one of the largest humanitarian organisations in the new EU member states, has been active in disaster and war-stricken regions of Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe, as well as in the Czech Republic, mainly during the floods of 1997 and 2002. It is involved in providing and distributing humanitarian and development aid as well as programmes of social integration focusing on areas of social exclusion. People in Need also organises the annual human rights film festival One World.
A five-member Czech police team has left for Afghanistan to serve a one-year mission in the province of Kunduz and the town of Faizabad as advisors to the border police and investigation experts. The members of the team all have experience from previous foreign missions and have worked in specialised police teams. Czech-Afghan police cooperation was the subject of talks between Czech deputy foreign minister Jaroslav Basta and Afghan police chief Zahir Aghbar who visited Prague recently.
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