Representatives of a number of human rights organizations working in the Czech Republic have said that the country continues to export arms to countries with bad human rights record. As examples they stated Columbia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Georgia. The deputy Foreign Minister Jan Winkler said that the possibility of potential misuse of arms is always considered before granting an export licence to a company. According to Mr Winkler intelligence services are involved in the screening of both the export companies and the buyers.
A Czech appeal court has overturned the earlier acquittal of a Russian rock musician charged with spreading racism and possessing neo-Nazi propaganda. Denis Gerasimov of the skinhead group Kolovrat was arrested at Prague airport in February as he was leaving the Czech Republic. In October a Prague district court freed the singer, saying his clothes and CDs could not spread racism or neo-Nazism because they were shut in a suitcase.
The Czech prime minister, Stanislav Gross, has come down with a fever and is unable to attend a European Union summit in Brussels, at which a decision is to be made on whether to allow Turkey to begin accession talks. Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy Martin Jahn is attending the conference instead of Mr Gross. But a spokesperson said it was possible the prime minister would be well enough to go to Brussels on Friday.
A bill to introduce special punishment for the owners of dogs that attack people has been rejected by the lower house. Under the bill, owners could face up to ten years in prison if their dog killed somebody. There have been several cases of dogs killing and causing serious injury in the Czech Republic in recent years.
The Czech Republic's biggest football club, Sparta Prague, have sacked manager Frantisek Straka, after Sparta did very poorly in European club competition the Champions League. Straka is being replaced by Jaroslav Hrebik, who led the club in the 2001-2002 season but was dismissed before the end of the season.
The majority of Czech members of the European Parliament voted in favour of the European Union opening accession talks with Turkey on Wednesday. But 'no' votes were cast on Wednesday by five of the 24 Czech MEPs, among them Vladimir Zelezny, whose Eurosceptic group came out strongly against Turkey joining, and called for referendums on the issue in all EU states. EU leaders are expected to give the green light to accession negotiations with Turkey later this week.
The 2005 budget has been approved. All 101 coalition MPs were present for Wednesday's vote, ensuring it was passed by the 200-seat lower house. The budget envisages a deficit of over 80 billion Czech crowns (2,700 million euros). It now has to be signed by the president. The Civic Democrats criticized the budget, saying it would not foster growth and meant the country was living in ever more debt.
The Czech Republic has once again been fined by the European Court of Human Rights over the slowness of its courts, Hospodarske noviny reported on Wednesday. The Becvar family took the state to the Strasbourg court after a case they took in a property dispute lasted for almost six years. The Czech Republic has now lost over 35 such cases, and won only one, said the daily.
Premysl Sobotka of the opposition Civic Democrats has, as expected, been elected chairman of the Czech Senate. Mr Sobotka, who took 55 of the 80 votes cast on Wednesday, will replace Petr Pithart of the Christian Democrats. Premysl Sobotka is a doctor by profession and has been a member of the Senate since 1996.