The budget for this autumn’s regional elections will be 586 million crowns (38.7 million USD), the Czech Finance Ministry announced on Saturday. The sum will go towards the printing of the ballot papers, an amount will be handed to the Czech Statistical Office which collates the results, and the rest will fund the country’s 15,000 or so election committees. A spokesperson for the Finance Ministry said that this autumn’s regional elections were expected to be slightly more expensive than those held four years ago, but only marginally so.
The Chinese ambassador to the Czech Republic has complained about Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek’s decision to wear a badge bearing the Tibetan flag at a news conference last week. Mr Topolánek wore the badge when he announced to journalists that he would be visiting this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing, but not attending the Games’ opening ceremony. On Saturday, Mladá Fronta Dnes reported that the Chinese ambassador to Prague, Huo Yuzhen had lodged a formal complaint about the incident with the Czech Foreign Ministry. Last week, the Czech ambassador to China was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, to talk to officials about Mr Topolánek’s conduct. According to a Czech government spokesperson, China was concerned that Prague might have changed its political position and begun to advocate an independent Tibet. The spokesperson stressed that this was not the case.
Thirty percent of Czechs support Kosovan independence, while 31 percent are against it, suggests a poll conducted by the CVVM agency and released on Saturday. The Czech government recognized Kosovo’s independence in May, and last week, the Czech Republic opened an embassy in Pristina. Almost 40 percent of the poll’s respondents said they didn’t know how they felt about the former Serbian province’s declaration of independence. One thousand and fifty one people took part in the survey.
The Pittsburgh Agreement, the treaty which founded an independent Czechoslovakia in 1918, is to go on display in Prague. The document, which was signed by the country’s first president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, will be displayed in the Czech Senate in October. To mark an independent Czechoslovakia’s 90th anniversary, the document will be loaned from the Pittsburgh Museum of American History. It is set to be the main attraction at ‘The Road to Independence’ - an exhibition charting the building of the Czechoslovak state from 1916 to 1920.
The head of the Czech consulate in Ottawa, Karel Hejc, has accused the Canadian border police of passing on asylum seekers’ details to their homeland embassies. Mr Hejc told the Canadian Press that in his time at the Czech Embassy in Ottawa, he had received several faxes bearing the names, surnames and dates of birth of Czechs seeking asylum in Canada. Mr Hejc said that while the Czech Republic did not discriminate against nationals seeking asylum abroad, this could not be guaranteed in the case of every country, and thus the data leaks could lead to persecution of asylum seekers back home. The Canadian government has responded that it only hands over details with the asylum seeker’s consent, and that it is looking into any possible data leaks.
Saturday sees the start of the annual Czech language summer school at Prague’s Charles University. Nearly 200 students from 38 countries have gathered in Prague to take part in the month-long Czech language course. The summer school is now in its 52nd year. On Saturday, the opening ceremony took place in Prague’s Karolinum. Over the course of the next month, students will undergo intensive Czech language training, visit seminars about Czech culture, and go on outings to historic Czech towns.
The Czech Finance Ministry is looking for a consultancy firm to advise it on the privatization of Prague’s Ruzyně airport. On Friday, the ministry called for consultants to start bidding for the contract. The deadline for submissions is August 29, a spokesperson said. The government is looking to have selected its advisors by the end of the year. Prague airport is considered to be one of the Czech government’s most valuable assets up for privatization in the near future. The net profit generated last year by the hub was 1.1 billion crowns (72.6 million USD).
German authorities have issued a warning to potential sex tourists following the death of a Czech prostitute from AIDS. Authorities in Saxony, near the Czech border, have launched an awareness campaign following the death of a Czech sex-worker from the condition three months ago. Police have traced 20 of the sex-worker’s former clients, six of whom have been diagnosed as HIV positive. One of the clients was found to have infected his partner with the virus. Police estimate that up to one hundred people could be at risk. German authorities are calling upon those who have visited prostitutes in the Czech Republic to undergo an HIV test immediately.
Czech cyclist Roman Kreuziger is sitting in 13th place overall in the Tour de France after Friday’s 19th stage in the competition. He is the currently the youngest rider in the top 20 of the Tour. Speaking to Reuters on Friday, Kreuziger said he was enjoying his Tour de France debut, and that the competition was a ‘learning curve’ for him. The director of Kreuziger’s team, Liquigas, has said that he has been suitably impressed by the 22-year old. Stefano Zanatta praised Kreuziger for being ‘physically and mentally’ above other cyclists of his age.
Two replica aircraft, an Avia BH 5 and an Avia BH 1, have taken to the skies this Saturday to reenact a historic air race between Prague and Brussels. Pilots Milan Mikulecký and Marcel Sezemský are seeking to retrace the route flown by Czech pilot Zdeněk Lhota in 1923. Lhota won the air race, organized by the king of Belgium, in what was a proud moment for Czech aviation. Eighty-five years later, Messrs Mikulecký and Sezemský made the aircraft they are flying in themselves. The pilots have changed the route they will be taking slightly from the original, given the different levels of air traffic in today’s skies. They are expected to touch down in Brussels on Tuesday.
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