The number of visitors staying in hotels in the Czech Republic in the first half of the year dropped by 8.5 percent compared to the same period last year. According to the Czech Statistical Office, 5.37 million visitors used hotel accommodation in the first six months of 2009 – the lowest figure in recent years. The head of the Czech Association of Travel Agencies, Viliam Sivek, says this year’s tourist season has been the worst in twenty years. He expects dozens of Prague hotels to close down in the coming months.
The idnes.cz news server has reported that the deputy military attaché of the Russian embassy in Prague has been expelled from the Czech Republic and another diplomat has been recommended to not return from holiday. Citing intelligence sources, the news server reported that both diplomats allegedly worked for the Russian secret services. Neither the Czech Foreign Ministry nor the Russian embassy have confirmed the information.
The government plans to submit a new petition to the Supreme Administrative Court asking it to outlaw the far-right Workers’ Party. Interior Minister Martin Pecina told reporters on Monday that the government should discuss the petition in two weeks time and submit it to the court in September. The Czech government first tried to have the Workers’ Party dismissed last year over its links to far-right groups, such as the National Resistance movement. The Supreme Administrative Court rejected the government’s petition in March saying the cabinet had not provided sufficient grounds for a ban.
The Prague state attorney's office has said it has halted the prosecution of Marcela Urbanová accused of giving a false testimony in the case of former deputy prime minister Jiří Čunek who was charged with bribery. A spokeswoman for the State Attorney’s office said Ms Urbanová, Jiří Čunek’s former secretary, had not spoken the truth, but had not intended to lie under oath. If found guilty, Ms Urbanová would have faced up to three years in prison. She was accused in June 2008. According to the police she lied about the circumstances in which Mr Čunek allegedly accepted a bribe of half a million crowns in 2002 when he was mayor of the eastern town of Vsetín.
Italian Valentino Rossi won the 250cc MotoGP race at the Czech Grand Prix meeting in Brno on Sunday. The victory means that Rossi extends his overall championship lead and moves a big step closer to clinching a ninth world title. After a thrilling head-to-head dual with Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo, Rossi profited from the latter’s fall five laps from the finish to extend his lead to 50 points going into the final seven races of the season. Rossi started the race in pole position after setting a track record in qualifying on Saturday.
Three hundred Czech tourists were left stranded in Tunisia on Sunday while the same amount again were left waiting in Brno and Ostrava after it emerged that a tour operator had failed to organise their chartered flights. Travel agency Sunny Days said that passengers in Brno and Ostrava, who were supposed to fly to Tunisia on Saturday evening would board their aircraft before midnight tonight. Similarly, the tour operator said that passengers in Djerba would be put on a flight home before midnight on Sunday. The agency said that those who had been left stranded in the Czech Republic had been compensated and offered an extension to their holiday. Those who return to the Czech Republic from Tunisia on Monday morning will also receive compensation, the owner of the travel service, Rida Bin Ahmad said. According to airline CSA, no planes were ordered by the agency and the mix-up was not their fault. A spokesperson for Sunny Days would not comment upon what had happened.
A Cessna light aircraft carrying four people crashed near Strakonice in
South Bohemia on Sunday, killing three of those on board. All three adults
on the plane died when the aircraft crashed into the Otava River, while the
one child on board was seriously injured and is in a critical condition in
hospital, police said. The accident happened at 9:50 CET said Jiří
Matzner, spokesperson for the South Bohemian police. He added that the
police were investigating the cause of the crash.
On Friday, another Cessna aircraft crashed while landing at Prague’s Letňany airport. Four people were injured in the accident, which was attributed to the pilot mishandling the landing.
Meanwhile in athletics, Czech javelin thrower Barbora Špotáková qualified for Tuesday’s final in the discipline at the World Championships in Berlin with her first throw on Saturday. The reigning World and Olympic Champion Špotáková threw 63.27 metres on her first attempt, surpassing the qualification limit by 1.27 metres. According to Lidové noviny’s news website, however, Špotáková seemed unhappy with her throw. She subsequently told journalists that she felt in bad mental shape. The world record holder’s arch rival, Russia’s Maria Abakumova, threw 68.92 metres in qualifying, which is a season’s best, Lidové noviny wrote. The final takes place on Tuesday at 19:25 CET.
The head of the Czech Chamber of Commerce, Petr Kužel, has said that while the number of redundancies is now falling in this country, he believes that firms will not start taking on new employees until next year. On Friday, the Czech Statistical Office suggested that GDP was down in the second quarter by 4.9 percent compared with the same period last year. The bureau did, however, suggest that the Czech economy was showing some signs of recovery, with results for the second quarter actually up on those from the first by 0.3 percent.
Police are investigating links between a firebomb attack on a Roma family’s home which shocked the nation and the far-right Workers’ Party, Interior Minister Martin Pecina said on Sunday. A two-year old girl remains in hospital in a serious condition with 80 percent burns following April’s attack, in connection with which four people have just been charged. On Sunday, the interior minister said that police were investigating the accuseds’ links with the extremist Workers’ Party. He said, however, that while the investigation was ongoing he would not comment any further. Speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Mr Pecina said that the Interior Ministry would again try to outlaw the Workers’ Party. He said that the ministry’s case would be brought to court in September.
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