Daily news summary News

23-11-2004

Czechs offer to help Slovakia after hurricanes devastate Tatra Mountains

The Czech Republic has offered to help the authorities in Slovakia deal with the effects of devastating hurricanes which hit the Tatra Mountains at the weekend. Around 50 Czech fire officers are ready to be sent to the scene of the worst natural disaster in the region in many years. The Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, has sent a letter of support to Slovakia, saying the tragedy also affected Czechs, who value the Tatras highly.

Klaus expresses support for Bulgarian EU bid, warns against exaggerated hopes

President Klaus has expressed support for Bulgaria's bid to join the European Union in 2007. But Mr Klaus, a critic of European integration, warned the Bulgarians not to have "exaggerated expectations" of what membership of the EU would bring them. The Czech president, in Sofia at the start of an official visit, was speaking after talks with his Bulgarian counterpart, Georgi Parvanov.

Fish in Elbe River found to contain higher than permitted levels of mercury...

The State Veterinary Institute has found that some fish in the Elbe River contain a high level of mercury. The chemical company Spolana which is located on the Elbe north of Prague instigated the tests, in an effort to refute claims by an environmental organization that fish in the river contained 12.5 mg of mercury per kg. The new tests found levels that were about one fifth of that amount, which is still higher than permitted.

...while fish, mother's milk contain traces of fire retardant

Meanwhile, a material used to retard fires has been found in both mother's milk and fish living in Czech rivers. The head of a team investigating the bromide-based substance - found in carpets, furniture and electronic appliances - said it could influence the human hormonal system. Professor Jana Hajslova said on Tuesday the threat it posed was underestimated.

European bank economist warns of need for serious fiscal reform

The chief economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has said that Czech Republic and neighbours Poland and Hungary are in need of serious fiscal reform. Speaking at a seminar in Brussels, Willem Buiter said the three countries needed to implement structural reform and increase control of public finances.

Officials, judges unlikely to get 14th month pay bonus

Senior state officials, judges and prosecutors are unlikely to receive a 14th month's salary this year, after a government vote on Tuesday overturned a decision of the Senate, which had approved the bonus. Labour Minister Zdenek Skromach said he did not regard the 14th month's salary as just in terms of the state administration as a whole. The Czech Union of Judges has said some of its members may sue the state over the matter.

Former credit union head gets seven years for large-scale fraud

The former head of a credit union has been sentenced to seven years in prison by a court in Ostrava for large-scale fraud. Petr Bezruc was found guilty of embezzling 65 million crowns when he was in charge at the Ceskomoravska druzstevni sporitelna credit union. He was extradited to the Czech Republic from Slovakia, where he had been in hiding.

Items found in statue of St Wenceslas likely to remain there

Restorers working on the statue of St Wenceslas on horseback at the top of Wenceslas Square in Prague have discovered a bag containing newspapers and coins in the horse's "stomach", the newspaper Blesk reported on Tuesday. The items may be left where they are, as it would be necessary to create a hole in order to remove them from the statue. Restoration work on the famous landmark is due to continue until the end of next year.

Weather

It is expected to be cloudy with snow showers in places, with temperatures falling to between minus 2 and plus 2 degrees Celsius. Weather forecasters have also warned of a repeat of the strong winds which hit the country at the weekend.

23-11-2004