Crime in the Czech capital rose slightly in 2009, due to an increase in robberies in the city centre, the head of Prague’s police Martin Červíček said on Friday. According to the officer, break-ins at apartments downtown as well as bicycle theft contributed most to the slight bump in numbers: up by around 1,000 cases from the previous year. In 2009, Prague saw a total of around 84,100 cases in all. Police also registered a slight rise in the number of crimes solved: 18.8 percent. Regarding more serious crimes, Prague saw 34 murders last year - 30 of which were solved by police detectives.
A new poll conducted in Brussels by the Czech news agency has suggested that a majority of the 22 Czech members of the European Parliament will not back the new European Commission next week. All nine MEPs for the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, and four Communist MEPs, suggested that the new commission and its policies would not gain their support; the Civic Democrats, Jan Zahradil said, are likely to abstain. Czech Christian and Social Democrats MEPs, meanwhile, have said they will vote in favour. The new commission, headed by Jose Manuel Barroso, is expected to pass easily overall. In the EC, the Czech Republic will be represented by Stefan Fuele in the post of EU Enlargement Commissioner.
A 69-year-old Czech woman in Tanvald, near Jablonec, survived a 10-story fall from her window on Friday morning. The accident happened when the woman apparently fainted in her apartment. The authorities said the woman was saved by more than a metre-and-a-half of snow outside of her building, which cushioned her landing. The fall, said a police representative, would otherwise almost certainly have proven fatal. The senior underwent a number of medical examinations which revealed no external or internal injuries.
Security was heightened at the office of the government on Friday after a man walked in trying to gain access to the prime minister. The news site Novinky.cz was the first to report the story, saying that the man, whose identity remains unknown, threatened he would kill Justice Minister Dana Kovářova, after he was turned away at the office of the government lobby. Neither the prime minister nor the justice minister were in the building at the time of the incident. The head of police security at the office of the government said that the individual slipped away before he could be arrested. But the police are confidant that the man will be apprehended as he was caught on security camera. Security at the justice ministry was also raised as a result of the incident; the justice minister - currently on holiday abroad - was informed of the developments.
The Ferdinand Peroutka Awards for outstanding journalism were handed out
in Prague on Thursday. Among this year’s recipients are economic
columnist for the weekly Respekt Jan Macháček, Petruška Šustrová from
the daily Lidové Noviny, and writer Pavel Kosatík.
The awards are named after Ferdinand Peroutka, one of the most significant figures of Czech journalism in the 20th century. He began his career in 1919 but left Czechsolovakia after the communist coup of 1948 and settled in New York.
In related news, the Czech National Bank on Thursday decided to keep the
key interest rate at a record low 1 percent. Analysts believe that among
the main reasons behind the central bank’s decision is the weak growth of
the Czech economy and a low risk of inflation.
Most experts do not expect the bank to lower the interest rates any further. They believe the rates will rise, with the only question being when it will happen. The Czech National Bank lowered the key interest rate to the historic low last December.
In related news, ČEZ CEO Martin Roman temporarily suspended the head of the company’s controversial anti-theft unit, Karel Vaniš. A ČEZ spokesman said Mr Vaniš was carrying a weapon during one of the squad’s raids that took place in 2006. The company’s management reportedly only learned of the incident on Thursday, and asked the police to look into the case.
Part of the Czech team for the Winter Olympic Games left Prague for Vancouver on Thursday. Among those in the group are acrobatic skier Nikola Sudová, who has recently been battling to get fit in time for the Olympics. Sudová, whose discipline is moguls, says she is going to Vancouver to compete, not just take part. The team’s cross country skiers, including medal hopeful Lukáš Bauer, are already in Canada training. The Czech Republic took four medals at the last Winter Olympics in Turin and Czech newspapers have been speculating that the country could well do better this time out.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout was released from a hospital in Prague on Thursday, two days after he was admitted for observation due to severe nausea. The ministry released no further details but said Mr Kohout would follow his programme as scheduled. This includes a session of the Czech government next week, and a trip to Lebanon and Syria the week after that.
The Czech National Bank announced on Thursday its prediction that the country’s gross domestic product will grow by 1.4 percent this year. The bank’s governor, Zdeněk Tůma, said their outlook for the economy had not changed from the previous estimate, released in January. Meanwhile, experts from the International Monetary Fund, who visited the Czech Republic last month, said they expected the Czech economy to grow by 1.5 percent in 2010, and the Czech Finance Ministry predicts a growth of 1.3 percent.
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