Next month’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival will be hosting two special American guests, actors John Malkovich and John Turturro. For Mr Malkovich it will be his second trip to the Czech Republic this summer, having recently performed in the Prague Spring music festival. He will also be presenting his line of men’s clothing, called Technobohemian, which will be modelled by leading Czech actors. John Turturro is set to receive a special prize awarded by the festival president and will introduce the world premiere of his latest directorial film, Somewhere Tonight.
The unions have decided to back off from a plan to block automobile traffic on Prague’s main thoroughfare and to march on the city instead, forming a demonstration at Palackého náměstí. From there they intend to move to the Ministry of Finance, leave bails of straw at the Office of the Government and continue to Prague Castle. The march is expected to end at noon. The unions say they expect around 3,000 people to participate.
Czech police have raided the Supreme State Attorney's offices in Prague and Brno seeking evidence of an information leak regarding Austrian-made, Pandur armoured personnel carriers. The raid was ordered by the State Attorney's Office in Olomouc over the suspicion of abuse of power. Early last month, Czech newspapers published the testimony of a confidential witness in the case of allegedly overpriced purchases of personnel carriers for the Czech military that may have involved high bribes. Marek Dalik, an aide to then prime minister Mirek Topolanek, was accused of asking for a bribe of half a billion crowns as a commission for the deal in late 2007.
In other news, Prague will not be hosting an early warning station for a planned US missile defence system, Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra has announced. Speaking to reporters after a meeting with American Deputy Defence Secretary William Lynn, Mr Vondra said that the system is to be integrated into the NATO framework, and that Czech Republic would be looking for another way to get involved in the project. Talk of such a station began after the new American administration scrapped plans for a missile defence shield conceived by former president Bush, which included a radar base in the Czech Republic. Recently Mr Vondra referred to the early warning station as a “consolation prize” for the cancellation of the radar station.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas and Interior Minister Jan Kubice are both expected to attend Wednesday’s crisis committee meeting at Prague City Hall. The meeting is planned for 2pm and will revolve around measures aimed at mitigating the impact of Thursday’s strike. Interior Minister Jan Kubice warned earlier that blockades would not be tolerated as a form of protest and that police would be out in force to maintain order. Prime Minister Nečas said on Tuesday that the government was putting 150 defence ministry buses and minibuses at the town hall’s disposal. Czech Railways has said it plans to rent another 200 busses to cover vital transport lines.
Czech towns and cities will in future be able to regulate the number of gaming machines on their premises by issuing special directives. Up until now it was the Finance Ministry which issued licenses making it difficult for the local authorities to clamp down on gambling. The Constitutional Court on Tuesday upheld a complaint by the town of Chrastava which has long fought to have a decisive say in the matter.
A group of young people on Facebook have organized their own protest action against the trade union strike saying they plan to board the last metro on Wednesday night and refuse to leave it. The organizers have called on sympathizers to bring refreshments and musical instruments and prepare to spend the night. The protest group says trade unions have no right to curtail what for many is a prepaid service in the interest of a certain segment of the population.
Trade unions have planned a protest march through the city on Thursday. Protesters are to gather outside the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry on Palacky Square, proceed to the Health Ministry, the Finance Ministry and conclude their protest at Prague Castle. President Klaus has strongly condemned the strike saying striking workers should be sacked.
The number of companies planning to recruit people in the third quarter is double the number of those which have signalled layoffs, according to a poll conducted by Manpower Index. Out of 750 Czech companies polled six percent of them said they were planning to recruit employees, three percent said they would have to affect lay-offs and over 90 percent said their work-force would remain unchanged. Manpower says it has registered a marked improvement in all spheres with the exception of the public sector which is having to affect cost-cutting measures across the board.
On a visit to the Šumava National Park on Tuesday President Vaclav Klaus expressed full support for the park management’s radical policy in fighting bark-beetle infestation in the protected nature reserve. The president said that the cautious policy of the former management and the Environment Ministry would have resulted in severe devastation of the region’s pine forests. The park’s present management, headed by former prime minister Jan Strásky, has come under fire from environmental activists and academicians for employing logging and harsh anti-insecticides to curb the spread of bark-beetle infestation.
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