President Vaclav Klaus has urged Czechs to show initiative and personal responsibility in shaping their own future and that of the Czech Republic. In his New Years address to the nation Mr. Klaus said that all round it had been a good year and that he was proud that the country had managed to successfully overcome a government crisis. 2006 should not bring any major upheavals or about turns, since the country had inner stability, a state further enhanced by the country's membership in the EU and NATO, Mr. Klaus said. On the European front, the Czech president said he was glad to see that a real debate on the future of the EU was finally being allowed to develop. Speaking of the 2006 general elections in the Czech Republic, the president urged politicians to refrain from making empty promises and he urged Czechs to go to the polls because the future of the country depended on each and every one of them.
The Interior Ministry has given the Union of Communist Youth until the end of March to change its policy programme. If they do not drop a call for a worker's revolution the group face a ban, on the grounds that they are registered as a civic association not a political party. The young Communists say they have no intention of changing their policies.
North Moravia was the region hardest hit by heavy snowfalls and freezing temperatures on Friday; the Karvina area declared a state of disaster and Ostrava's Mosnov airport was forced to close. Many parts of the Czech Republic have experienced major problems on the roads and power blackouts in recent days. Forecasters have warned of ice and frost over the holiday weekend.
The Czech Army is having trouble recruiting doctors and other health workers, and people able to operate specialist equipment, Pravo reported on Friday. The paper says relatively low salaries in the Army made recruitment more difficult, while an Army spokesperson said such skills were in short supply across the labour market.
Czech ski jumper Jakub Janda came third in the first event of the Four Hills tournament in Oberstorf, Germany. Janda came fifth in last year's Four Hills but this season has been dominating the sport of ski jumping. He will have a chance to catch up with leader Janne Ahonen of Finland at the German resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen on day two, New Year's Day.
The Ombudsman's office has uncovered over 50 cases of unlawful sterilisation of women. In an interview for Czech Television, Ombudsman Otakar Motejl said his office had been looking into the cases for over a year. Mr Motejl said Health Ministry documentation on the sterilisations did not contain written requests, or evidence that the women had been fully informed about the procedure. He said the cases, which mostly involve Romany women did not reflect racial discrimination.
Czech wholesalers and retailers have been selling alcohol well below average price. Under Czech law they have until the end of the year to empty their stocks of spirits that are not labelled with a new tax stamps, or else face a heavy fine. Spirits with an alcohol content of 15% or higher have to be properly labelled and have the stamp. As of January 1 2006, any wholesaler or retailer who violates the law can face a fine of up to 5 million Czech crowns (over 200,000 US dollars).
The state prosecution has filed another charge against TV magnate turned politician Vladimir Zelezny. The Czech European Parliament member is accused of the attempt to harm a creditor when he held the post of general director at the popular commercial station TV Nova. Mr Zelezny is already under investigation for tax evasion amounting to 6.8 million crowns (some 280,000 US dollars).