The Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has criticised the ruling of Ukraine's central election committee that proclaimed the current Ukrainian Prime Minister, Viktor Yanuchovych, as the winner of the recent presidential election. Mr Svoboda said the second round of the election did not meet democratic standards, adding that he did not believe the results reflected the genuine will of the Ukrainian people. The former Czech president, Vaclav Havel, urged the Ukrainian opposition to persevere and said they had the support of all credible national and international organizations.
All political prisoners of the former communist regime are to receive pension bonuses by way of compensation. The government recently approved bonuses for political prisoners and labour camp inmates between the years 1948 and 1968 but has now extended the decree to cover people persecuted in the last twenty years of communist rule. Prisoners of conscience should in future receive regular bonuses to their pensions, 50 crowns for every month that they spent in a communist prison or labour camp.
According to Czech doctors, more than half of Czech children have high cholesterol levels and their number is on the rise. Only about one-fifth of adults in the Czech Republic suffer from high cholesterol levels and their number is decreasing. Doctors say that while adults are aware of the benefits of a healthy diet they fail to make sure their children eat healthily and get enough exercise. Children with high cholesterol levels face a higher risk of heart attack later in life.
In future, regional and high courts should decide on the extradition of Czechs to other EU countries on the grounds of the European arrest warrant. Requests for extradition should be addressed to the regional state attorney's office or the municipal state attorney's office in Prague. However the European arrest warrant will only apply to crimes committed after November 1st 2004 and only to serious crimes such as terrorism, paedophilia, murder or trade in weapons and drugs.
Czech immigration and border police have launched a nationwide operation targeted at illegal migrants in the Czech Republic. Police officers are searching dormitories, building sites and railway stations for illegal immigrants, focusing mainly on the citizens of Ukraine and other countries of the former Soviet Union.
Rivals of postal services operator Ceska posta should have easier access to the market, in line with an amendment to the law on postal services passed by the Lower House of Parliament. To get a license for the provision of postal services one will no longer have to prove expert skills. On the other hand, Ceska posta should have a clearer monopoly on the delivery of direct mail. The amendment aligns Czech legislation with EU directives.
Meanwhile, some three hundred Ukrainian nationals met outside the Ukrainian embassy in Prague to demonstrate support for the opposition candidate Viktor Jushchcenko and demand a review of the polls or new elections. They handed over a petition to embassy officials and appealed on the Ukrainian embassy staff in Prague to publicly express support for the opposition. Many Ukrainians living in the Czech Republic boarded busses for Kiev at the start of the week in order to join the protests in their homeland.
The regions should get an additional 28 billion crowns from state coffers next year in line with an amendment to the law passed by the Lower House of Parliament on Wednesday. The amount is only half of what the regional authorities had asked for, but the Lower House turned down a proposal that they should administer money for education themselves. The remaining 28 billion, which is to cover teachers' salaries, will be distributed directly by the government. MPs said they wanted to make sure that the money would not be used for other purposes.
Sparta Prague football club were beaten 1:0 at home by Fenerbahce of Turkey on Tuesday night. Sparta performed poorly, and the only goal of the game was headed into his own net by Radoslav Kovac. The result means they will come last in their European Champions League group - a win over Fenerbahce would have given Sparta a chance to take third spot and a place in the UEFA Cup.
The former Czech president and leader of the country's 1989 Velvet Revolution Vaclav Havel has urged the Ukrainian opposition to keep up their protests against a disputed presidential election. "All respected domestic and international organizations agree that your demands are justified," Mr. Havel wrote in an open letter from Taipei, in which he wished the opposition "strength, perseverance, courage and good decisions".