Czech Minister for Regional Development, Jiri Paroubek, plans to re-examine all grant applications that have been approved since he has taken up office. Mr Paroubek reacted to an article in the Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes, which suggests some ministry officials have been bribed to approve grants for large building projects in several Czech towns and cities.
The cabinet has decided to keep its options open over the privatisation of Cesky Telecom: it will first try to find a suitable investor. If that should fail, it will sell its 51% stake in the telecommunications company on the capital markets. A number of foreign investors have expressed interest in taking part in the tender, which will close at the end of March. Cesky Telecom has an estimated market value of 114 billion crowns; it operates three and a half million fixed lines and is the sole owner of mobile operator Eurotel, which has almost four and a half million customers.
Hygiene experts say they are recording unusually large cases of meningitis in the northern town Kladno. This autumn, 26 children were diagnosed with the disease, far higher than the usual average of three or four cases. Kladno residents are alarmed but doctors say this type of meningitis is caused by a viral infection and is neither life threatening nor needs to be treated in hospital.
Prague Castle hosted the yearly Descartes Prize award ceremony on Thursday at which scientists were honoured for their contributions in the field of life science and physics. This year's 1 million euro EU Descartes Prize was awarded to two teams for outstanding cross-border research. The winning EU-US team has made revolutionary breakthroughs in the field of quantum cryptography; the winning pan-European team contributed to greater understanding of mitochondrial DNA, believed to be one of the keys to the ageing process.
A 250,000 euro EU Descartes Prize for Science Communication was awarded for the first time to five personalities for their exceptional role in bringing science and technology to wider audiences in Europe.
A group of children from the Russian town of Beslan have arrived in the Czech Republic, where they will undergo medical treatment and rehabilitation. A hostage crisis at their school in September ended in the deaths of more than 300 people. The children, accompanied by parents and teachers, as well as psychologists, will be staying in the west Bohemian spa town of Karlovy Vary, where there is a sizable Russian community.
The Czech football coach, Karel Bruckner, received a bonus of 15 million crowns (almost half a million euros) for leading the national team to the semi-finals of the European Championships in Portugal, the Czech squad's business manager Vlastimil Kostal said on Wednesday. But Mr Kostal denied press reports the coach had decided his own bonus, saying the figure was established in Mr Bruckner's contract. The main stars of the team, such as Pavel Nedved and Milan Baros, received seven and a half million crowns, while other players and staff received smaller sums.
Friday is expected to have overcast skies and rain with daytime temperatures ranging from 2 to 6 degrees Celsius.
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