The Czech ambassador to Pakistan Ivo Žďárek was killed in a terrorist attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Saturday. The bombing killed at least 52 people and injured 145. Mr Ždárek, who was appointed to Pakistan in August, temporarily resided at the hotel without his family, and was present at the time of the attack. The AFP news agency reported that Mr Žďárek called the embassy just minutes after the blast requesting to be rescued from the burning building but had not been heard from since. Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani later told reporters that the ambassador’s body was found in the debris and identified. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg denounced the attack and welcomed the Pakistani government’s resolution to continue its fight against terrorism. Ivo Žďárek, who was 47, joined the Foreign Service in 1986. Prior to his appointment to Pakistan, he served as the Czech ambassador to Vietnam. Mr Žďárek was married with two children.
Around 70 Czech veterans from former Yugoslavia, the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan, met in Olomouc, central Moravia, on Saturday. They complained about the lack of assistance by the authorities with the transition from the military into civilian life. There are an estimated 16,000 veterans in the Czech Republic; many of them suffer from family breakdowns and difficulties with finding employment.
The 14th World Congress of Psychiatry began in Prague on Saturday. The
Congress, held every three years, is taking place for the first time in a
post-communist country. More than 6,000 psychiatrists from around the world
are attending the event; they will deliver around 3,000 contributions in 19
sections. Prague Mayor Pavel Bém, who is a psychiatrist, is scheduled to
speak on Monday. Besides general topics, the Congress will also focus on
some controversial issues related to homosexuality, hypochondria, and
various atypical psychoses.
Outside the Prague Congress Centre, around 500 people with ties to the Church of Scientology protested on Saturday the use of psychiatric medication and psychiatry in general.
The Czech national basketball team lost to Israel 98:61 in Tel Aviv on Saturday in a game of the qualifying Group D for the European Championships. The defeat barred all hopes of advancing to the championship, which will be held in Poland in 2009. The Czech team will instead play Hungary, Estonia and Ukraine in August 2009 to remain in the elite group of European basketball teams.
The Czech exports of services are rising but the country still lags behind
the rest of the developed world, according to an analysis by the Czech
Industry and Trade Ministry. Last year, the Czech Republic exported more
than 341 billion crowns, or over 20.6 billion US dollars, worth of
services, which was 10 percent more than in 2006. Imports of services in
the same period rose by seven percent to 286 billion crowns, or more than
17.2 billion US dollars. The share of services in total exports however
dropped to just over 12 percent which is less than in other EU and
Around 80 percent of the Czech exports of services went to other EU countries, especially to Germany, Slovakia and the UK. The analysis by the Industry and Trade Ministry estimates that the exports of service will keep increasing in the coming years.
Deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the Christian Democrats Jiří Čunek told Czech TV on Sunday that the government should resign if Parliament does not approve the state budget for 2009. Following a scandal with staged involving senior Civic Democrat politician Vlastimil Tlustý, the coalition of the Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and the Greens can only rely on 97 out of 200 MPs in the lower house of the Czech Parliament. Four opposition Social Democrat MPs, who sided with the coalition earlier this year, said they would not support the state budget as it incorporated the government’s fiscal reforms. The Chamber of Deputies is expected to vote on the annual state budget in October.
Motorcycle stunt rider Pavel Hanzlík died during a show at the Budweiser Budvar brewery in České Budějovice, southern Bohemia, on Saturday. The 39-year-old man was riding his motorcycle on the rear wheel but fell down and hit a wall, suffering deadly injuries to his chest, head and spinal column. No one else was injured in the accident.
A Romany family in Bruntál, northern Moravia, was attacked early Sunday morning when a Molotov cocktail was thrown into their home. Five people were asleep in the flat at the time of the attack but nobody was hurt. A police spokesperson said that racial hatred was one of the possible motifs of the assault.
Telephone conversations recorded by the police in 2000 suggest that Ivan Langer, then vice-chairman of the Chamber of Deputies and the current interior minister, collaborated with organized crime, the daily Mladá Fronta Dnes reported on Saturday. Mr Langer is another senior politician of the ruling Civic Democrats, after Vlastimil Tlustý, suspected of lobbying for the unofficial head of Czech organized crime František Mrázek. Both politicians have denied that they would have knowingly collaborated with the mob. Civic Democratic leadership is to meet on Monday to deal with the situation in the party. The Civic Democrats have recently been hit with a scandal involving one of their MPs, Jan Morava, who was exposed as ready to allegedly blackmail Mr Tlustý with staged photos.
Several hundred people with ties to the Church of Scientology protested against psychiatric practices in Prague on Saturday, in connection with the 14th World Psychiatric Congress which began in the Czech capital at the weekend. One of the organizers said children with hyperactive disorders should no be given drugs; the protesters also called for an end of psychiatric medication in general.