A plaque dedicated to people who helped save Czechoslovak Jews from the Holocaust will be unveiled at Prague's Pinkas synagogue on Thursday. The plaque will be unveiled by the Prague Jewish Community and the Hidden Child Foundation and will bear the names of 160 people who saved around 200 Jewish children during the war. Some 80,000 Czechoslovak Jews perished in the Holocaust.
The Constitutional Court has ruled that the Senate elections in the Prague 11 constituency are valid and confirmed the victory of Jan Nadvornik of the Civic Democratic Party. The Constitutional Court thus overturned the ruling of the Supreme Court which earlier invalidated the outcome of the elections in Prague 11 on the grounds that the election campaign had been conducted in a dishonest manner, in violation of the election law. This was in reference to a number of slanderous articles against the unsuccessful candidate which appeared in the local papers. Political observers say the Constitutional Court's ruling has set an important precedent.
The Czech Republic intends to close down some of its embassies and consulates abroad due to planned cuts in public spending. The decision was also made in view of the fact that after the country's entry to the European Union in May of last year, Czech interests are protected as part of the EU common policy. According to an unnamed source from the foreign ministry this cost-cutting measure should affect eight embassies in Africa and South America. The Czech consulate in neighbouring Slovakia will also be closed down.
The Czech police say they have broken up an organised gang that was illegally transferring large amounts of money out of the Czech Republic. Property and money worth 36 million Czech crowns (1.5 million US dollars) was confiscated in the police action. Fifteen of the gang members have been charged with unauthorised entrepreneurship. All of them, with the exception of one, are from Asia.
A group of senators are preparing an amendment to the penal code, which would make the name of the Czech Communist Party illegal. The senators from the Club for Open Democracy hope naming a political party "Communist" would be considered a propagation of communism, which is prohibited by law. The Czech Communist Party has been criticized for refusing to follow party colleagues in neighbouring countries, who are reformed and changed their name since the fall of Communism.
The Czech government's fleet of planes is old and needs to be modernised, Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda announced on Tuesday. The fleet of seven aircraft used by the Army to transport senior government officials and material such as medicine also exceed permitted noise or emission levels. A complete modernisation of the fleet would cost some 4.2 billion Czech crowns. Next week, the State Security Council is to decide whether to go ahead with the modernisation or find a different solution. One such solution would be that state officials fly with commercial airlines.
The State Veterinary Authority says it may have uncovered yet another case of BSE, or "mad cow" disease. The Authority says that a five-year-old cow, from a herd close to the South Moravian town of Uherske Hradiste, may be the country's sixteenth case since 2001. According to spokesman Josef Duben, test results should be ready by the end of the week. If confirmed, several hundred cows will be slaughtered as a precautionary measure.
Some 3,000 foresters gathered in front of the Agriculture Ministry on Tuesday to protest against planned changes in the state company Czech Forests. The foresters fear changes to the company's business policy, proposed by the Agriculture Minister Jaroslav Palas, could see every fifth person of the 25,000 now working in forestry laid off. Minister Palas unsuccessfully tried to calm down the protesters, who later pelted him with eggs and snow balls.
Police investigators have begun looking into how the senatorial campaign of former health minister Marie Souckova was financed. The investigation comes on the heels of abuse of office and breach of public trust charges filed against the former health minister last week, in connection with an ongoing arbitration case against the state. Ms Souckova is alleged to have contracted a lawyer to represent the state in its case against the blood plasma trading company Diag Human without holding a tender and at "disadvantageous terms". Ms Souckova has not made public the backers of her failed senatorial bid, or said how the money left over from the campaign was spent; but has rejected accusations that she profited in the Diag Human case or diverted any of the related legal fees to her campaign.
The Minister of Culture, Pavel Dostál, is the most popular Czech politician, according to the latest opinion poll taken in January by the STEM agency. Mr Dostal, who is battling cancer, displaces Petra Buzková, the Minister of Education, from the top spot. The least popular politicians are Health Minister Milada Emmerová and Regional Development Minister Ji"í Paroubek, according to the poll. The least-known cabinet member is the deputy minister for economic affairs, Martin Jahn, who is unaffiliated to any political party.