Passenger traffic at Prague's Ruzyne Airport climbed by 11 percent in 2005 to reach a record 10.8 million, a spokeswoman announced on Friday. In 2004, the main Czech airport and the busiest among the 10 new EU member states, handled around 9.7 million passengers, ranking it 30th among Europe's airports. On Friday, Prague's Ruzyne airport also inaugurated its new North-2 terminal, built at a cost of around 10 billion crowns (450 million dollars). The new terminal will welcome its first passengers on Tuesday.
Czech Culture Minister Vitezslav Jandak, an actor by original profession, will play a hunter for a long lost treasure in an action film set during World War II to be shot in mid-2006, the ministry's press department said on Friday. According to the Czech press, the film, which currently has the working title "Maharal," will be directed by Pavel Jandourek, and shooting will take place in the summer when the government is not working. Mr Jandak, a well-known 58-year-old Czech film and stage actor, was appointed as Culture Minister in August.
The board of the state-run General Health Insurance Company, the VZP, has announced a selection process for its new head to replace present VZP director Jirina Musilkova whom the lower house is likely to dismiss next week, a spokesman for the insurance company said. Health Minister David Rath has repeatedly called on Mrs Musilkova to resign, blaming her for the VZP's 11-billion-crown debt. Mr Rath imposed forced administration on the company in November.
The former Czech football international Tomas Repka is set to rejoin Sparta Prague, eight years after leaving the club. The tough 32-year-old defender will play two more games for English Premier League club West Ham United, before signing a three-year contract with Sparta. Repka said he wanted to return to Prague to be with his family.
Czech senators Karel Schwarzenberg and Jaromir Stetina have said they have been refused visas to Belarus where they planned to meet representatives of the political opposition. Mr Schwarzenberg and Mr Stetina said they were not surprised that they had not been granted visas by President Alexander Lukashenko's regime. The Belarussian Embassy said it would not comment on the issue.
The Czech World Cup football team will be based at a lake side hotel near the town of Westerburg for this summer's finals in Germany, the squad's spokesman said on Friday. The chosen location is around 120 kilometres from Cologne, where the Czechs will start their world Cup campaign against the United States. The Czech team, which has qualified for the first time for the World Cup since the country's creation in 1993, will move to its German base on June 7.
The Czech Republic's Human Rights Commissioner, Svatopluk Karasek, strongly opposes plans by the country's right National Party to erect a memorial at the site of a former detention camp in South Bohemia. In 1942, over 1,200 Czech Romanies were interned in the Czech-run camp before being sent to Auschwitz. An inscription on the National Party's memorial is to refute claims that the site was a concentration camp and run by Czech guards.
A court of appeals has extended the prison sentence for former Communist secret police agent Jiri Simak. In 2002, a Prague court found him guilty of torturing political prisoners in 1981 and sentenced him to three years. The court of appeals has now increased the sentence to four years in prison. At least two former dissidents have come forward describing how Mr Simak tortured them as part of the secret police operation Asanace or Clearance, aimed at forcing opponents of the Communist regime to flee the country.
A member of parliament for the Social Democratic Party, Martin Kraus,
has said he would give up two influential functions amidst allegations
of corruption. Mr Kraus has been under pressure to explain why he
agreed to participate in a dubious deal to buy a Ghanaian cocoa bean
factory in 2001. The newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes goes as far as
suspecting Mr Kraus of money laundering.
Mr Kraus says he is innocent but will give up the post of head of Parliament's budget committee and the group of Social Democrat Deputies. But he will not give up his mandate as has Civic Democrat Vladimir Dolezal, who is also accused of corruption and proclaims his innocence.
Ten churches in the Czech Republic have called on to Czech President Vaclav Klaus and the Senate (the upper house of Parliament) to reject a bill on registered same-sex partnerships. The bill was approved by the Lower House in mid-December and has yet to get the green light from the Senate and the President. One of the churches' arguments against it is that the Czech Republic has one of the lowest birth rates in the world and cannot afford to encourage homosexual partnerships.
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