Some 2.9 million foreign tourists visited the Czech Republic in the first six months of 2005, the CzechTourism agency has said. Compared to the same period last year, the number increased by more than eight percent. The capital Prague, the Karlovy Vary region and the South Moravian region saw the most visitors, with Prague taking a 60-percent share in Czech incoming tourism.
Around 1,500 police, stuntmen and emergency service workers were involved in a counter-terrorism exercise in Prague and the town of Kralupy nad Vltavou early on Friday. Simulated bombs exploded in the carriage of a train at a metro station in the centre of Prague and in a train in the town of Kralupy around 1 am on Friday. Police also sealed off a Prague train station after discovering a suspicious bag and arrested an alleged 'terrorist' at the station. The two-million-crown (82,000-dollar) exercise, sparked by the July attacks in London, was watched by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan. The interior ministry said the objective of the exercise was to test emergency rescue plans and the preparedness of Prague's metro system to cope with such a situation.
No Czech citizens were involved in the preparation of a terrorist attack which the Czech counter-intelligence service, the BIS, helped thwart in the past months, a spokesman for the BIS has said. The counter-intelligence service received the first signals that Arab-looking persons living in Spain were greatly interested in buying weapons in the Czech Republic in the summer of 2004. The information proved reliable and the suspects were later detained. The planned attack, thwarted in a joint Czech-Spanish operation, was not to be carried out in the Czech Republic.
Czech midfielder Karel Poborsky will join second division Ceske Budejovice on loan after being kicked out of Sparta Prague's squad. The 33-year-old Poborsky remains a Sparta player without any changes to his contract but will join Budejovice for three months, the club said on Friday. Poborsky is a co-owner of Budejovice, which was his first club. He stepped down as Sparta team captain on Wednesday and was thrown out of the squad after criticising coach Jaroslav Hrebik, who had put him on the bench for the last two league games. Poborsky and Sparta have agreed to resume talks after January 1. Poborsky, who has played for Lazio, Benfica and Manchester United, is the most capped Czech player in history.
The lower house has once again approved a bill banning the transformation of hospitals into commercial entities. The chamber overrode the president's veto on Friday and once again approved an amendment banning such transformations. Opponents of the amendment say it is in breach of the constitution. The Health Minister, Social Democrat Milada Emmerova, says she wants to prevent the transformation of hospitals as she believes they would no longer provide a full range of health care but concentrate instead on more profitable branches of medicine.
Food inspectors have ordered a Czech hypermarket - run by the Dutch
chain Ahold - to close its doors immediately after finding the store
infested with mice. A spokeswoman for the Agriculture and Food
Inspectorate has said the store in the South Bohemian town of
Jindrichuv Hradec was ordered to close over concerns over health risks.
Inspectors discovered not only mouse droppings on site, but chewed groceries, and live and dead mice within the entire vicinity. The Dutch chain now faces a possible fine of up to several hundred thousand crowns (the equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars).
Ahold Czech Republic, a 99-percent-owned subsidiary of Ahold, has been operating in the Czech Republic since 1991.
President Vaclav Klaus, on a visit to the US, has met with US
Vice-President Dick Cheney at the White House. After talks on Thursday Mr
Klaus told reporters the United States had attentively followed the
situation in Europe concerning recent German elections. Mr Klaus also said
he and the US vice-president discussed Czech aid to the victims of
Hurricane Katrina, as well as such issues as the Middle East, Afghanistan
Earlier, on Wednesday, Mr Klaus met US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Police have revealed that DNA analysis has confirmed suspect David Lubina's involvement in the murder of a TV technician. Last week TV Nova editor Michal Velisek was shot and killed in Prague after intervening on a woman's behalf. The woman was being threatened by Mr Lubina near Prague's Charles Square. Lubina, who has a history of psychological problems, shot Mr Velisek twice without warning, before escaping the scene. Police have been unable to track him down so far.
In related news, Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan has addressed the case of fugitive millionaire Radovan Krejcir, saying on Thursday that it was "99 percent certain" Mr Krejcir was no longer a Czech citizen. The news comes after the ministry studied new documents at its disposal. Mr Krejcir, who is wanted for tax fraud and conspiracy to murder in the Czech Republic, escaped to the Seychelles in mid-summer, but obtained citizenship earlier, in 1996. The Czech Republic has been looking into possibilities for Krejcir's extradition.
Czech footballer Karel Poborsky - until recently captain of the first division's Sparta Prague - has been officially struck from the club's "A-team" list. Sparta's management reached the decision after the star midfielder publicly criticised the team's coach Jaroslav Hrebik. The club said it respected Mr Poborsky's talents, but made clear it would not tolerate such behaviour. The 33-year-old Poborsky is now set to train individually.