Slavia Prague have qualified for the group stage of European football’s UEFA Cup: a 1:1 draw against Vaslui in Romania was enough to put them through after an all-nothing draw in Prague earlier. The other two Czech clubs in action on Thursday were less fortunate: Sparta Prague drew 3:3 with Dinamo Zagreb, though the latter went through on the away goals rule. Baník Ostrava could only manage a 1:1 draw with Spartak Moscow, who had beaten them in Ostrava in the first leg.
The daily Právo has written that the head of the National Anti-Drug Centre Jiří Komorous is stepping down, a move confirmed, the paper writes, by police president Oldřich Martinů. Mr Komorous has headed the centre since 1995 and is expected to leave his post in one month. The official, occasionally a controversial figure for activities prior to 1989 (namely for applying for a post with the Communist era secret police, the StB) - is leaving at his own request. He has declined to comment the move so far.
The Czech Agrarian Chamber has revealed that the country’s farmers will use farm machinery to slow traffic on key roads in areas throughout the Czech Republic, including Prague, on October 13, to protest the proposed budget for the agriculture ministry next year. The protest will last two hours and will not affect the country’s highways. Agrarian Chamber representatives announced the move was in protest to lower direct payments from the state budget, dropping by 2.8 billion crowns. Last week, the government approved a proposal for the state budget in which the agriculture ministry will receive 4 billion crowns less than in 2008, part of the government’s austerity measures.
Police president Oldřich Martinů has defended his choice of Martin Červíček as the new head of Prague’s police, saying he had followed the letter of the law and stood firmly behind the choice. Mr Martinů made the statement at a press conference in the east of the country on Friday. His choice of Martin Červíček came under fire earlier by Prague Mayor Pavel Bém. In a motion at City Hall, Mr Bém criticised the interior ministry and the selection process in the case. Mr Martinů dismissed the charge that the new Prague police chief lacked necessary managerial experience.
The Minister for Labour and Social Affairs Petr Nečas has said that restrictions by some EU countries blocking the free movement of Czech labour were unnecessary, stating that just 71,000 Czechs worked in other EU countries last year. The minister also said that Czechs posed no threat to the labour markets in neighbouring Austria and Germany, which continue to apply restrictions. The Czech Republic has called on the European Commission to work on a report on the functioning of temporary measures that limit entry onto labour markets in some of the original EU member states.
Four people were killed and more than twenty injured when a bus, owned by the Czech firm Student Agency, crashed while travelling a regular route from Slovakia to the Czech Republic. The accident took place in the Slovak region of Trenčín on Friday, shortly after midnight: all four of those who died were Slovak nationals. In all, 47 passengers were aboard when the bus left the road and flipped onto its side. Police overseeing the investigation say the driver tested negative for alcohol; they are now looking into other possible reasons for the tragedy. Student Agency, meanwhile, announced it has put together a crisis management team to help survivors as well as the victims’ families.
Around 200 fans of the Croatian football club Dinamo Zagreb threw cobblestones and bottles during a clash with police in the centre of Prague on Thursday evening. The incident came ahead of a UEFA Cup match against Sparta Prague. Dinamo fans made the Hitler salute on the city’s Old Town Square, before attacking police who were monitoring their route to Sparta’s stadium. A number of police officers and rioters were injured and around 20 arrests were made. Thursday’s clashes followed similar incidents in the Czech capital late Wednesday.
The head of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Václav Pačes, has suggested that renowned Czech chemist Antonín Holý would make a worthy candidate for the Nobel Prize. Speaking to ČTK, the Czech news agency, Mr Pačes said Mr Holý - recognised for his role in the development of drugs effective against Hepatitis B and HIV - could be nominated along with fellow researcher Erik De Clerq of Belgium. Mr Pačes told ČTK that he considered Mr Holý the sole Czech scientist suitable for such a nomination, although he indicated it was unclear which category would be more appropriate, chemistry or medicine. The academy has roughly four months to put together a proposal: the deadline for putting forward nominations is February 1.
Members of parliament have been engaged in a heated discussion over whether municipal police officers should have the right to measure the speed of passing cars with mobile radars. The coalition, particularly the Transport and Interior ministries want to give municipal police this right, and claim that this change is a mere technical amendment in the existing laws. However, the opposition is arguing that such a change would be political and thus require the passage of new laws – they also argue that only state police should have the ability to use mobile radars and that in the past municipal police and local authorities ended up setting arbitrary speed limits in Czech municipalities. These accusations have been disputed by the government.
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