Prague Mayor Pavel Bem has said that the anti-flood exercise underway in Prague this weekend has shown that the city can be ready to cope with flooding in half a day. It took rescuers precisely half a day to erect barriers along the Vltava River to protect the city, Mr Bem said. Some 500 fire fighters and police officers raised 2.5 kilometres of portable aluminium walls which are designed to protect the city against a 11-metre flood wave, the level which the Vltava River reached during the 2002 floods that cost the city 26 billion crowns (over a billion dollars). The massive exercise, at an overall cost of 2 million crowns (80,000 dollars), will end on Sunday.
The Novinky.cz news server has reported that the Culture Minister Pavel Dostal's condition has worsened overnight, and described it as critical. Mr Dostal is undergoing intensive cancer treatment at the Masaryk Oncology Institute in Brno. Mr Dostal has been receiving treatment since last December after he had a tumour removed from his pancreas last autumn. Pavel Dostal, who is 62, is the longest-serving minister in the Czech cabinet. He has served as culture minister since 1998 under four prime ministers.
President Vaclav Klaus has condemned the terrorist attack in Egypt which killed at least 88 people including one Czech. In a telegram sent to the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, President Klaus said this bloody and cowardly act proves that terrorism is one the most dangerous phenomena our civilisation is facing. Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has called on Czech citizens to avoid travelling to Egypt in the immediate future.
La Strada, an international organisation which helps victims of trafficking, has said that a bill regulating prostitution, approved by the Czech government on Wednesday, will not reduce trafficking in people. The organisation says the proposed bill will complicate the situation of many female and male prostitutes and expose them to a higher risk of exploitation. Under the bill, people from EU countries would be able to obtain licences for offering sexual services for money without problems while citizens of other countries would have to have a visa or a residence permit. The bill has yet to be approved by parliament and signed by the president.
One Czech national, a 23-year old man, has died as a result of the blasts in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh that killed at least 88 people on Saturday. According to the Czech Foreign Ministry, at least one other Czech citizen has been injured in the explosions. A Czech Airlines special has been sent to Egypt with medical personnel and a psychologist onboard. The plane is due to return to Prague on Saturday night and can bring back up to 160 Czech tourists who decide to cut short their stay in Egypt. According to estimates, there are between 1,500 and 2,000 Czech holidaymakers in the area, staying in about 40 different hotels.
Thursday's attack on a Czech armoured vehicle in Baghdad does not appear to have been directed against the Czech Republic, Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan told the CTK news agency on Friday. Mr. Bublan said that attacks on foreign armoured vehicles are not exceptional in Iraq and there was nothing in this case to indicate that the rebels intended to target a Czech vehicle or official. The armoured Toyota belonging to the Czech embassy was carrying military police officers from Bagdad Airport when the rebels opened fire. The heavily armoured car drove through the fire and continued on its way. No one was injured in the incident.
The Czech capital will witness its first ever flood exercises at the weekend to test the readiness, impact and effectiveness of emergency crews and newly erected flood barriers. The emergency exercise comes just three years after devastating floods wrecked havoc throughout the Czech Republic and other parts of central Europe. Some 500 specialists will be taking part in the exercise and some 50 trucks will transport mobile flood barriers. Fire fighters and police officers will be out in force, helping to set up barriers and guard closed off streets. City transport will be restricted in some parts of Prague.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has called for a test of the country's
preparedness in dealing with the consequences of a terrorist attack.
Following another series of explosions in London on Thursday, Mr. Paroubek
asked the Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan for members of the integrated
rescue system to stage an exercise simulating an emergency operation in
the wake of a terrorist attack.
The Prime Minister said he had no evidence to suggest that Prague was in
serious danger of an attack, emphasizing that the measure was
Following the terrorist attacks in London on July 7th the Czech Republic reinforced police patrols at key sites including the Prague metro, railways, airports and strategic buildings, as well as border crossings. Heightened security measures remain in effect.
Senator Alexander Novak of the Civic Democratic Party has been charged with bribery. According to the charges the senator accepted a 43 million crown bribe for mediating the sale of municipal shares in local power and gas distributing companies to a German firm. The Senator has refused to comment on the case. The Senate stripped him of parliamentary immunity in November of 2003. If found guilty, he could face up to eight years in prison.
Property belonging to the wife of former prime minister Stanislav Gross was auctioned for 6.3 million crowns on Thursday, the equivalent of over 250, 000 dollars US, months after Mr Grossova suspended original business activities. Questionable business dealings and financing led to an eventual government crisis that resulted in her husband stepping down. Mrs Grossova and business partner Libuse Barkova had originally intended to use the property for the construction of a luxury housing area.