The Czech Republic has welcomed Ukraine's Supreme Court decision to annul the results of Ukraine's bitterly disputed presidential election. The original poll, thought to have been rigged, had been criticised by foreign politicians, including Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, and former Czech president Vaclav Havel. On Friday Ukraine's Supreme Court said the country would see a new run-off with the original two candidates, opposition figure Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, by December 26th. A statement on the Czech Foreign Ministry's website released in reaction to the decision congratulated the Ukrainian people while welcoming the fact that Ukraine had dealt with its crisis independently, relying on democratic and constitutional means.
The multinational concern Lasselsberger has been given the go-ahead to build a cement works in Stramberk, north Moravia, creating 130 new jobs in a region with a high unemployment rate. Construction is expected to begin in the first half of 2005. The project had been on the table for about three years but protests from several environmentalist groups delayed decision on the project. Earlier, an appeal was rejected by the Environment Ministry. As it stands the he new cement plant could start operations in 2006, reaching full capacity in 2007.
The European Parliament has authorised Austrian representative, Maria Berger, to begin a fact-finding mission concerning Czech member of the European Parliament Vladimir Zelezny, after a Prague court asked that Mr Zelezny be stripped of parliamentary immunity. Czech officials are looking to summon Mr Zelezny to court in connection with an alleged case of customs fraud, in which Mr Zelezny may have failed to declare a number of valuable paintings brought into the country.
State attorney Josef Blaha has extended the deadline for police to complete an investigation in the so-called "Koristka affair", an alleged bribery case in which government MP Zdenek Koristka claimed he had been offered a bribe of ten million crowns - and a diplomatic post - if he helped bring down the government in a confidence vote during the summer. The MP has claimed he was offered the bribe by a lobbyist and an assistant connected to the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party. Currently, police are expected to wrap up their investigation by January 5th.
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.
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.
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.