Two police officers were arrested in Prague on Thursday on rape charges. Another policeman, who faces prosecution in the same case, has not been taken into custody. A spokeswoman for police inspection said they face charges for raping a 16-year-old girl which occurred in the region of Ústí nad Labem, in northern Bohemia, in March. The police officers, who worked at the Prague police headquarters, have been suspended. If convicted, the police officers face prison sentences from two to ten years.
The German-owned, Czech-based car producer Škoda Auto posted a 561-percent increase in profits in the first quarter of 2010 year-on-year. The car maker made just over 2 billion crowns, or more than 107 million US dollars over the first three months of this year, with revenues increasing by 32 percent to 52.5 billion crowns. The company sold nearly 180,000 cars, which was some 25 percent more than last year. The head of Škoda board of directors, Reinhard Fleger, said the firm expected higher sales for the rest of the year despite continuing uncertainty at world markets.
In related news, a majority of Czechs oppose the adoption of the Euro for the time since 2001, according to a survey by the CVVM agency released on Thursday. 55 percent of those polled said they did not want the Czech Republic to adopt the single European currency, while 38 percent would welcome it. In 2001, 52 percent of Czechs supported the adoption of the euro. Among the opponents of the euro are supporters of the Social Democrats and Communists, elderly people and people with low living standards.
The Czech Environment ministry approved on Thursday a controversial plan to renovate the ČEZ-owned coal power plant in Prunéřov, northern Bohemia. Minister Ruth Bízková told reporters the project complied with all requirements related to air quality protection in the region. The 25 billion crown, or 1.3 billion US dollar project has been opposed by environmentalists who demanded the ČEZ power producer use the best available technology in the renovation, contrary to the approved project. Green Party leader Ondřej Liška said the project was a victory of the power giant ČEZ over the environment and people’s health. The previous environment minister, Jan Dusík, stepped down over the issue last month. Mr Dusík was going to ask ČEZ to prepare another project that would use the best technology but Prime Minister Jan Fischer insisted the environment ministry approve the project in its current form. Mr Dusík refused to do so and resigned.
The city of Zlín, in eastern Moravia, stripped on Thursday the communist dictator and Czechoslovak president Klement Gottwald of freedom of the city he was awarded in 1946. The motion was supported by 34 out of 38 council members; two communist councilmen voted against it. In 1949, the city of Zlín, where the Baťa shoe company was based, was renamed Gottwaldov, in honour of Klement Gottwald, who led the communist coup in 1948, and served as the country’s first communist president until his death in 1953.
President Václav Klaus vetoed on Thursday a bill that would have increased maternity benefits to the levels of 2009. Mr Klaus said the bill would increase the deficit of Czech public finances, which goes against the interest of the Czech society. The bill was approved earlier this month by the Social Democrats, Communists, Christian Democrats and the Greens. It will now return to Parliament’s lower house which is expected to overturn the presidential veto at its May session.
The vice-governor of the Czech National Bank, Mojmír Hampl, said that due to the current problems of the Eurozone, it made no sense to talk about any concrete deadline for the adoption of the euro in the Czech Republic. Speaking at a seminar held by the Czech Exporters’ Association, Mr Hampl said the European Union and the Eurozone faced a complicated debate on its future economic policies. The demand on the side of the Eurozone to accept new members also decreased, according to Mojmír Hampl. Most experts and politicians believe the Czech Republic could adopt the euro in 2015 at the earliest.
Prague zoo is opening its gorilla pavilion to the public for the first time since the birth of a new gorilla baby on Saturday. Visitors can visit the pavilion on Thursday afternoon, but the director of the zoo stressed that rules for visitors would be very strict. They can only enter in small groups and only stay inside for a few minutes. The baby is the third child born to gorilla Kijivu. Gorillas are very popular with visitors of Prague zoo, which has set up a live video-stream from the gorilla pavilion on its website.
Czech President Václav Klaus has said that Germany must be prepared to bear the negative effects of European integration it always championed. Speaking at Humboldt University in Berlin on Thursday, Mr Klaus said that freedom and prosperity in Europe are at risk, and that the Lisbon treaty had failed to bring more democracy to the European Union. According to the Czech president, EU enlargement had caused the bloc to lose its decision-making potential. Mr Klaus also drew a parallel between the European Union and communism saying that both deny nations equality and sovereignty. Despite the existence of the formal posts of EU president and foreign minister, and the EU flag and anthem, it is Germany and France who wield the real power, President Klaus added.
The Czech energy producer ČEZ will decide within two years whether it will build a new, fifth block at the Dukovany nuclear power plant in southern Moravia, the plant’s director told reporters on Thursday. A feasibility study on the new block should be ready by the end of the year. The Dukovany power plant was built 25 years ago, and ČEZ plans to keep it in operation for another 35 years. Unlike the other Czech nuclear power plant in Temelín, the Dukovany plant faces difficulties with water supplies needed for cooling the blocks.
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