The European Union's Czech presidency has voiced serious concern about espionage charges leveled against US-Iranian journalist Roxana Sabery in Iran. The Czech EU presidency called on Teheran to respect human rights and honour all international human rights treaties ratified by the country. It emerged on Wednesday that Sabery who has been detained in a notorious Teheran prison since January, has been charged with spying. She was initially reported to have been detained for illegally buying alcohol.
Fifty-seven percent of Czechs think there are too many foreigners in the Czech Republic and one-fifth of them agree with the view that the Czech Republic should not accept any more refugees, according to the outcome of a poll conducted by the CVVM agency. Seventy-eight percent of Czechs think that residence permits should be linked to certain criteria. The view that the Czech Republic should significantly curb the number of refugees the country takes in is held by 68 percent of Czechs.
The police is gearing up for a planned neo-Nazi march in the town of Ustí nad Labem on April 18th, just two days ahead of the 120th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birth. The head of the north Bohemian police force Jiří Vorálek said several hundred neo-Nazis were expected to attend predominantly from the Czech Republic and neighbouring Germany. Police reinforcements are being brought in from around the country and the city’s inhabitants have been asked to stay away from problem areas so as not to get caught up in potential street violence.
Forty-eight percent of Czechs consider Jan Fischer an appropriate choice for prime minister and believe he will cope well with the challenges ahead, according to a poll conducted by the Factum Invenio agency. A third of respondents said they did not think he was equipped to take over, especially in the middle of the country’s EU presidency. At 58, Jan Fischer he is the country’s oldest-ever prime minister. Some people have reservations to the fact that he is essentially a technocrat, others criticize the fact that he spent ten years in the communist party.
Czech President Václav Klaus granted pardon to 11 people, including six foreigners on the occasion of Good Friday. The pardoned were selected mostly for humanitarian reasons, and none of them were serving time for serious crimes. The president also pardoned five of the foreigners from expulsion, on the grounds that they had lived in the Czech Republic for a long time and have families here.
Former prisoners of the communist regime and resistance fighters who do not receive Czech pensions will get a one-off allowance from the Czech state as compensation for their suffering, under a bill President Vaclav Klaus signed into law on Friday. The legislation applies, for instance, to men and women who receive old-age pensions in Slovakia or in other foreign countries, or to those who do not receive old-age pensions at all. In the Czech Republic, former resistance fighters, political prisoners of the communist regime as well as the widows, widowers and orphans of those who were executed or died in custody, prison or a concentration camp receive extra benefits paid monthly along with their pension. The level of these bonuses is periodically upgraded.
Two children remained in critical condition in hospital on Thursday following a stampede caused by a private radio stunt in the south Bohemian town of České Budějovice. As well as the two children in intensive care, five other children and two adults are also undergoing hospital treatment. Twenty-four people were injured when the radio station offered to drop 100,000 crowns among the crowd in the town’s main square. Police are investigating whether criminal charges should be pressed for recklessly endangering safety with a jail sentence of up to two years possible.
Czech President Václav Klaus appointed Jan Fischer as the country’s new prime minister during a brief ceremony at Prague Castle on Thursday afternoon. Mr Fischer, the head of the country’s statistical office, should become the non-partisan leader of a caretaker government from May 9 until early elections in October. His appointment has been paved by a deal between the country’s two biggest political parties, the centre-right Civic Democrats and the opposition Social Democrats. They have enough votes in the lower house of Parliament to guarantee Fischer’s government of experts sufficient support in a confidence vote and pilot the country to early elections.
Czech state-controlled carrier, Czech Airlines, has said that it is preparing to lay-off up to 200 workers in a bid to cut costs. The move has been notified to the local employment office. The step comes amid moves by the airline’s management to win union agreement for a cut in wages to relieve the downturn in airline earnings caused by the global economic crisis. Management are seeking to shave around 300 billion crowns from the annual wage bill. Unions are angered that the management seem to be seeking permanent wage cuts without a return to their original level when the crisis eases.
Annual inflation speeded up to 2.3 percent in March from February’s 2.0 percent, the Czech Statistical Office announced on Thursday. Analysts say the latest figure is higher than Czech National Bank expectations but they say the outlook is for the pace of price rises to slacken over the next months. The higher cost of tobacco and alcohol as well as increased charges for fuel and housing were among the biggest factors pushing up prices in March, the statistical office said.
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