The bird flu virus has been found in a flock of wild ducks in South Bohemia; experts say the case is not dangerous. The flock of 280 birds in which the virus was detected is kept for breeding and will be destroyed. Authorities from the city of České Budějovice, to which the flock belongs, say that the small size of the flock and the conditions in which the animals were living make the chance of further infection very unlikely.
Prime Minister Jan Fischer on Friday emphasised his government’s commitment to fighting extremism in the Czech Republic while recapitulating his priorities before parliament on Friday. The PMs statement was in reference to reports of terrorist attacks prepared by a right-wing fascist organisation and reported on by the daily Mladá fronta Dnes on Thursday. The paper cited a professional soldier as stating he was training a group of some thirty individuals to carry out kidnappings and attacks on ideological enemies, including Jews and anarchists. The Minister of Defence Martin Barták said Thursday evening he had ordered the soldier’s immediate discharge. Police have charged eight individuals in connection with the organisation, which calls itself White Justice.
The Czech President Václav Klaus has met with the American Vice-President Joe Biden as part of a four-day visit to the United States. The US again confirmed its interest in cooperating with the Czech Republic on a new missile defence system replacing an earlier proposal by the previous US administration. Mr Klaus said that the “exceptionally friendly” meeting had picked up where discussions with Mr Biden had left off a few weeks earlier during the latter’s visit to Prague. On Wednesday Mr Klaus gave a speech on global warming and a day later met with members of Congress. From Washington he will be flying to California for a conference on Ronald Regan and the fall of communism, and will be returning to Prague on Sunday.
Sparta Prague increased their chances of qualifying for the knock-out stages of football’s Europa League with a 3:2 away win over Romania’s Cluj on Thursday night. That result leaves Sparta second in Group K on seven points, one behind leaders Eindhoven. Slavia, meanwhile, came from 2:0 down to draw 2:2 with Valencia in Prague. However, the Czech league champions are bottom of Group B with only two points. There are two remaining rounds in the group stages of Europe’s second-tier international club competition.
The Chamber of Deputies has voted to give up independent MP Petr Wolf for prosecution. Mr Wolf, formerly of the Social Democratic Party, is suspected of credit fraud and copyright violation. The decision was recommended by the Immunity and Mandates Committee and was debated by parliament for an hour. Mr Wolf’s questionable financial dealings caused the scandal that sparked the toppling of the government of Mirek Topolánek earlier this year when it emerged that the prime minister had instructed one of his aides to try to prevent Czech Public Television from broadcasting an investigative report into Mr Wolf’s activities.
A sweeping 88% majority of Czechs are dissatisfied with the general
political situation in the Czech Republic according to a survey published
by the Median polling agency. According to Median, the postponement of
early elections until next year has played a major part in that
dissatisfaction. Respondents said that the politician who best handled the
early-election crisis was President Václav Klaus, giving him a
below-average grade of 3.1 on a five point scale. Civic Democratic party
chairman Mirek Topolánek got the worst result in this regard with a grade
of four. More than two-thirds of those polled also suggested that the
ambiguous political situation in the Czech Republic will damage its
position in Europe.
Mr Topolánek’s centre-right government was toppled by a lost confidence vote in the spring and was replaced by an interim technocratic government. Early elections scheduled for October of 2009 were declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court and put back to their original timeline, leaving the Czech Republic with a caretaker government until that time.
The finance ministry has said that the costs of the Czech EU Presidency amounted to 3.25 billion crowns by the end of September. This figure is roughly half a billion crown less than what was originally budgeted for the period of 2007 to 2009. That sum will rise before the ministry gives the government the final calculation in the first quarter of next year. The Czech Republic took the EU’s six-month rotating presidency over from France at the start of 2009. That country reported about the same costs, i.e. 3.77 billion crowns, but also stated it was approximately twice the average.
In further connection to the White Justice case, the daily Právo reported Friday that the son of Prime Minister Jan Fischer has been under police protection for the last five months on account of the family’s Jewish background and the extremist group’s treat to attack “highly-positioned Jews”. The paper reported that the family of interior minister Martin Pecina was also receiving police protection.
Prague city transport may come to a halt sometime next week as trade unions of the metropolitan transit company prepare to strike in protest of planned lay-offs. While the unions have not given a date for the strike, saying only they are prepared to begin at any moment, unofficial information from employees and union members indicates Tuesday, November 10. The planned strike is directed at the Prague municipal government, which the union holds responsible for the company’s poor financial situation. The city is the 100% shareholder in the Prague transportation company, DPP, which lacks sufficient investment funds and is some two billion crowns short of its needed operational expenses at present.
Czechs still lead EU statistics in the use of soft drugs, such as marihuana and ecstasy, according to a report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Forty-four percent of Czechs under twenty-four say they have used marihuana, compared to the EU average of 30 percent, and fifteen percent say they have used ecstasy, where the EU average in 6 percent only. One positive aspect highlighted in the report is that the Czech Republic is one of the few EU countries in which drug-related crime has decreased.