President Vaclav Klaus is expected to appoint actor Vitezslav Jandak culture minister on Wednesday. Mr. Jandak will replace the late Pavel Dostal who died of cancer in July. The Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said he expects the new culture minister to establish a constructive dialogue with the churches. This has proved to be a problematic area in recent years. The President will also be appointing the former Prague mayor, Igor Nemec, as head of the Office for Protection of Personal Data.
The Czech Republic has banned imports of poultry from Russia and Kazakhstan following reports of bird-flu virus in the region. The State Veterinary Office said the measure was indefinite and was in line with EU regulations. An epidemic caused by a dangerous strain of the virus is reported from Chelyabinsk in the Ural Mountains. Five hundred birds have died of it in the past 24 hours. The strain is the same one that killed dozens of people in Asia.
Jaroslav Basta, the former Czech ambassador to Russia, has been appointed deputy foreign minister for political issues. Basta served as minister without portfolio in the Social Democrat Cabinet headed by Milos Zeman where he was in charge of the intelligence services. He was also one of the people behind the former government's anti-corruption drive "Clean Hands". Its poor results were one of the reasons why Mr. Basta had to leave the cabinet in the year 2000.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has chosen actor and director of the Zlin film festival Vitezslav Jandak for the post of the Czech Republic's culture minister. The other two candidates were the general commissioner of the Czech Republic's exposition at the World Expo 2005 in Japan Vladimir Darjanin and the former director of Prague's National Theatre Jiri Srstka. The post was left vacant following the death of the late culture minister Pavel Dostal in July.
The Interior Ministry is planning to close down some of the local centres for foreign asylum seekers whose number has been declining, the daily Pravo wrote on Monday. According to an Interior Ministry spokeswoman, the number of applicants has dropped by half since the Czech Republic's EU entry, and the capacity of refugees' homes now exceeds the demand. She added that the final decision as to which asylum centres will be closed down will be made in several weeks. Almost 5,500 foreigners applied for asylum in the Czech Republic last year, the lowest number since 1999 and 52 percent fewer than in the previous year. Ukrainians and Russians prevailed among the asylum seekers. Over 77,000 people applied for asylum in the Czech Republic in the past 14 years, and it was granted to 2,500 of them.
The Czech Agricultural Association has announced that this year's gross agricultural output will be the lowest in the last 15 years. The association estimates the output at 67 billion crowns (2.8 billion dollars) down 10 billion crowns from last year. The fall has been mainly caused by shrinking animal production. According to the Czech Statistics Office data, beef production decreased by over 20 percent to almost 40,000 tonnes and pork production dropped by 16.2 percent to 168,000 tonnes in the first six months of 2005. The association said the Czech Republic was no longer self-sufficient in the production of pork meat, and will soon not be self-sufficient in beef production. There is a surplus of milk, but only because of low domestic consumption, the Agricultural Association noted.
There were no Czech citizens aboard the Prague-bound Cypriot airliner
which crashed north of Athens on Sunday killing all 121 people on
board, the Reuters agency wrote citing the official list of passengers.
According to the Cypriot government there were 104 Cypriots onboard the
plane, 12 Greek nationals, four Armenians and a German pilot. The Greek
authorities have announced that the bodies of 119 victims have been
found so far, along with both of the Boeing's black boxes, which have
been sent to Paris to be examined by experts.
The Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and President Vaclav Klaus have sent their condolences and extended their sympathy to the victims' families and friends.
The former Jewish ghetto Terezin or Theresienstadt north of Prague may become a vast European memorial to the Holocaust, as outlined in plans unveiled on Monday by the regional authorities. The head of the regional council Jiri Sulc, said he was impressed with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, adding that it was unfortunate that there was not a similar memorial in Europe which was so greatly affected by the Holocaust. Under Nazi occupation the former Czech military town of Terezin became a holding ghetto through which nearly 140,000 Jews passed during World War II. Some 87,000 of them were sent on to the death camps in Poland while nearly 35,000 died in the Czech ghetto, primarily because of deplorable health and sanitation conditions.
The Czech intelligence services have rejected claims in the press that Prague is high on the list of a future terrorist attack. The daily Pravo wrote in its Saturday edition that an attack on the Czech capital is highly likely, for many reasons, among them the fact that it is a popular destination for Jewish tourists. The daily enumerates several possible scenarios, including bomb explosions in the metro leading under the Vltava river and a plane exploding over Old Town Square. A spokesman for the intelligence service BIS slammed the press report, saying that it bordered on scaremongering. He said the country's intelligence services had no information to suggest that Prague or any other location in the Czech Republic was in serious danger of a terrorist attack.
A Cypriot airliner carrying 121 people crashed north of Athens on Sunday.
The plane, which was bound for Prague, went down just minutes before it
was due to make a scheduled stop-over in Athens. The accident happened
over mountainous terrain and the Greek authorities have said there are no
reports of survivors. There have been conflicting reports about the
nationalities of those on board. A Cypriot official said the majority of
passangers were Greek Cypriots. According to available information there
were no Czech nationals on board.
An earlier report according to which there were 80 Greek children aboard
the plane has been ruled out.
The Greek authorities have said the accident was most likely caused by a sudden failure of the air conditioning system and resulting loss of pressure and oxygen in the cabin as a result of which the pilots lost consciousness. An investigation is underway.
The Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and President Vaclav Klaus have sent condolences and extended their sympathy to the victims' families and friends. The Czech foreign ministry and Ruzyne Airport had prepared to deal with a potential crisis, setting up hotlines and having psychologists on stand-by at the airport in case relatives and friends of people bound for Prague had need of them. According to available information their services were not required.