Minister without portfolio Jaroslav Bures has been put in charge of the government's anti-drug policy. He has been commissioned to draft a national anti-drug strategy for the next four years, working closely with the interior, health, justice and education ministers. Mr. Bures has allegedly requested two months to prepare the document. He told the media that he intended to focus on prevention rather than repression and said that instead of investing money into prevention programmes which state what is common knowledge the public should be given shock therapy and made to see the everyday reality of drug addiction.
The government has approved a plan for the establishment of special institutions for dangerous juvenile delinquents. The proposed amendment to the law on institutionalized care comes in reaction to a series of brutal murders committed by underage delinquents, most of whom were on the run from institutions for problem children. The idea is to isolate underage delinquents who are considered a threat to society and give them professional supervision and care. The cost of establishing such institutions would be covered by the Education Ministry.
The Czech Republic is striving for visa-free relations with Russia, according to the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda. The visa regime between the two countries was introduced in 2000 at the Czech Republic's initiative. During talks with the visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov, Mr. Svoboda said that, following a decline in the 90s, relations between the Czech Republic and Russia were once again very good. Despite the friendly tone, the Russian foreign minister faced some tough questions in the Senate where he was asked to explain Moscow's policy with regard to Chechnya. Czech President Vaclav Klaus is to pay a state visit to Moscow in May of next year.
The European Commission has said none of the ten newcomer states are ready to join the single currency and pressed for continued efforts. European Union financial chiefs concluded at their meeting on Wednesday that none of the countries vying to join the now 12 nation Euro zone fulfilled the five tests for Euro membership. They noted individual progress on some targets. The Czech Republic meets the criteria for inflation but falls short of the requirement of keeping its public deficit below 3.0 percent of GDP. The Commission has declined to forecast how soon the newcomers could swap their currencies for the Euro.
Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda and his Norwegian counterpart Jan
Petersen signed a mutual understanding agreement in Prague on Tuesday
that will see the Czech Republic receive around 65 million euros, or 2
billion crowns, in funds over the next five years. The finances are
meant to be divided among smaller projects not covered - or not covered
fully -by EU structural funds, including protection of the environment
and historic sites, improving human resources, and financing research
projects and health care.
The conditions for drawing money are to be similar to those that guide funds in the European Union: with funds being divided up by the Finance Ministry. It will be possible to submit first project proposals in November.
Norway's contribution follows a provision through which more well-off states in the European Economic Area contribute financially to economically weaker countries in the European Union. Norway itself is not a member of the EU.
A feisty Sparta Prague drew with Manchester United in Prague on Tuesday night in a match that saw impressive opportunities for both sides. Man United started strong with efforts by Wayne Rooney and John OShea, but the home side had chances as well, especially from Lukas Zelenka, who shot wide, and former Man United player Karel Poborsky, who was dangerous throughout the night.
Poborsky cleared a late fitness test to take part in the game, giving Sparta an added bite. The draw gave a valuable point for Sparta but the home side needed to win to have any real chance of going through to the next round in the Champions League.
A Prague court has acquitted Russian national Denis Gerasimov, the singer
of a neo-Nazi rock group, Kolovrat, of propagating neo-Nazism in the Czech
Republic. Mr Gerasimov was remanded in custody in January after officials
found neo-Nazi propaganda in his suitcase as he prepared to depart from
Prague's Ruzyne airport.
Mr Gerasimov's rock band, accused of promoting racism, had performed at the weekend at a skinhead concert in east Bohemia.
But, on Tuesday Judge Katerina Kohoutkova said the court had not found Mr Gerasimov guilty on any of three counts, including the singing of racist lyrics during live performances.
The prosecution has already appealed Tuesday's decision; Denis Gerasimov will remain in custody for the time being.
A collision between a car and a train at a railway crossing in the south-east Moravian region of Vyskov left one dead, one seriously injured on Tuesday. The accident took place in the afternoon at a crossing that featured warning lights but no gate, allowing the car to drive through. Railway officials said the warning signal was in operation.
State prosecutor Josef Blaha has dropped all charges against two men taken
into custody earlier this month for having allegedly attempted to bribe MP
Zdenek Koristka of the Freedom Union, a junior government coalition party,
to help bring down the government in a vote of confidence. The charges
against the two — Jan Vecerek, a lobbyist, and Marek Dalik, an adviser to
the leader of the main opposition Civic Democratic Party — were dropped
due to a lack of evidence. On Friday, the state prosecutor assigned to the
politically charged case, Martin Fras, was relieved of his
related responsibilities, for refusing to drop the charges as directed by
a superior. The Civic Democrat leader, Mirek Topolanek, who now refuses to
discuss the case publicly, had said that he merely sent Mr Dalik to find
out how Mr Koristka was intending to vote and that Mr Vecerek facilitated
Although the charges against the two men have been dropped, the police investigation into what the media is calling the 'Koristka affair' will continue. The Freedom Union MP, who agreed to a polygraph, or 'lie detector' test, claimed he was offered the equivalent of 300,000 euros and the post of Czech ambassador to Bulgaria to vote against the government coalition of which his party is a member.
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel opened the eighth successive Forum 2000 international conference in Prague on Sunday, with a speech celebrating a vibrant civil society as a guarantor of diversity. Speakers at this year's Forum 2000 conference, which continues until Wednesday and focuses on the role of civil society and globalization, include John Shattuck, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, and Jeremy Hobbs, the executive director of Oxfam, an international development and anti-poverty group.