Czechs have begun voting in Senate and local elections with polls opening at 1400 hours CET on Friday. Voting is taking place for local town and city councils and for a third of lawmakers in the 81-seat upper house of parliament, the Senate. The vote is seen as the first major test of public opinion since parliamentary elections proved inconclusive in June. A second round of senate elections will take place next weekend seeing a head-to-head between the two top-finishing candidates who failed to gain 50 percent of the vote in the first round. Polling stations will close at 14 hours CET on Saturday.
Ahead of an informal EU summit on energy policy the Czech President Vaclav Klaus voiced strong words on EU dependence on Russian oil and natural gas, suggesting the EU should rethink its current energy policy. Currently one quarter of the EU's oil and natural gas come from Russia. According to Mr Klaus, if the EU is to strengthen its hand it will have to rely more on its own coal sources as well as nuclear energy. EU representatives have begun meeting at the informal summit in Finland, but Mr Klaus said he found it unlikely that the union would be able to agree on a joint position before welcoming Russia's President Vladimir Putin later on Friday.
Prague's Mayor Pavel Bem has confirmed that anti-terrorism measures taken in Prague - relaxed recently - came in connection with celebrations of the Jewish New Year. Mr Bem made the statement on Friday, saying that that Jewish facilities in the city centre had been considered potential targets. Until now, politicians had avoided officially confirming speculation by the media concerning potential attacks.
Last month the Civic Democrat minority government led by Mirek Topolanek issued extraordinary security measures after the cabinet received supposedly concrete information about the threat of potential attacks. The security measures were softened at the beginning of this week. Policemen continue monitoring some buildings in the capital, though their number has been lowered. Deputy police president Jan Brazda revealed that police concluded the situation had improved considerably.
Officials have revealed that customs officers on Thursday seized around 39 million crowns - the equivalent of around 1.8 million US dollars - worth of counterfeit goods during the checking of a shipment to Prague, as well as the investigating of an open-air market. The shipment revealed more than 8,000 pieces of fake brand-name clothing, while inspection at the market in the district of Prague 7 came up with almost 700 pieces of imitations goods and jewellery. It is the second-greatest amount of counterfeit goods seized in Prague in a single day.
Members of a family of three visiting the Prague Zoo on Friday were surprised to find themselves the millionth visitors at the zoo in 2006. It is only the second time in the zoo's 75-year-history that the rate of visitors has hit that number. The family - a young married couple and their three-year-old son - was awarded a number of prizes and a special tour. Last year, the zoo saw its highest attendance ever: 1.2 million. Organisers hope to reach 1.1 million this year.
Czech league football champions Liberec got off to a good start in Group C action in the Uefa Cup's on Thursday evening. The team earned a deserved 0:0 tie against Spain's Sevilla, coming out strong and just missing several opportunities to take a lead - and all three points - in the game. The other Czech side in action on Thursday was Sparta Prague which also had chances but was downed 2:0 by Espanyol.
The next few days are expected to be partly cloudy with some scattered showers and highs on Saturday reaching 18 degrees Celsius.
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