The Bahamas have promised to consider a Czech request for the extradition of Viktor Kozeny before looking at a similar appeal from the United States, Czech Justice Minister Pavel Nemec said on Monday. His officials were in the Bahamas last week for talks with local authorities. Mr Kozeny, dubbed the Pirate of Prague, is wanted in the US and the Czech Republic on charges of large-scale fraud.
The Czech government has declared a state of emergency in seven of the
country's 14 regions after severe flooding last week and at the weekend.
It is set to remain in place until midnight next Monday. The regions in
question are South Bohemia, Central Bohemia, Usti, Pardubice, South
Moravia, Olomouc and Zlin.
Meanwhile, evacuation measures in Znojmo, south Moravia have been called off. Thousands of people were forced to leave their homes there last week when the River Dyje burst its banks.
As rescue workers and soldiers continue to work flat out to shore up flood defences around the country, a search is underway for a boy feared drowned in North Bohemia. The six-year-old is believed to have fallen into a rivulet of the River Svatava on Sunday. Seven people are reported to have died due to the floods.
Water levels are dropping on most of the country's swollen rivers, but there have been warnings that warming could lead to more problems in the middle of the week.
The Green Party are gaining more support ahead of June's elections, suggests a poll carried out by the Factum Invenio agency. Some 10.5 percent of respondents in a poll conducted at the end of March said they would vote for the Greens, up from 9.1 percent in the middle of the month. The Civic Democrats continue to lead the polls, with almost 30 percent support, while just over 25 percent said they would vote for the governing Social Democrats.
The long cold winter led to record consumption of natural gas in the Czech Republic in first quarter of this year, according to figures just released. Gas usage was up 7.5 percent on the same period in 2005, with the highest daily consumption in the last week of January, when temperatures of around minus 17 degrees Celsius were recorded.
The United States ambassador to Prague, William Cabaniss, says there is
little chance of the US lifting visa requirements for Czechs in the
near future. But speaking after a meeting with Mr Cabaniss at the US
embassy, Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said he believed the United
States would change its position and lift the restrictions.
Meanwhile, the Czech ambassador to Washington, Petr Kolar, told Mlada fronta Dnes the Czech Republic would use a number of avenues to try to lobby US congressmen to support the abolition of visa requirements for Czechs, which he referred to as a strategic mistake.
The bird flu virus has been uncovered in a sixth dead swan that was found in the south Bohemian region of Ceske Budejovice. The news was released by Josef Duben, spokesman for the State Veterinary Administration. A sample will be sent for testing to the European Union's Reference Laboratory in Weybridge, Britain, to confirm whether or not the flu is the deadly H5N1 strain - dangerous for human beings. Tests on one dead swan - the first case in the Czech Republic, found in Hluboka nad Vltavou, south Bohemia - confirmed the presence of the pathogenic virus. Other samples from dead swans confirmed H5.
In other parts of the country hundreds have been unable to return to their homes because of the floods. Emergency situations have been declared by half the country's regions after rivers swelled dangerously mid-week because of rain and melting snow. The Elbe River in the north of Bohemia - the region of Usti nad Labem - continues to wreak havoc. Emergency status is in effect.
The Elbe's waters are also causing havoc in the town of Melnik 30 kilometres north of Prague, where some 2,000 are expected to evacuate in the coming hours. Some one hundred police officers have been helping residents prepare to leave the area. The nearby Spolana chemical plant in Neratovice is also in danger of being hit by flood water from the river. The plant suspended operations several days ago in anticipation of the flood scenario.
Several regional governors have publicly criticised the government in connection with the floods, saying it did not fulfil promises to substantially improve anti-flood technology after the country was hit by severe flooding in 2002. Speaking on a Sunday discussion programme on Czech TV, Jiri Sulc, the regional governor in Usti nad Labem, north Bohemia, and a member of the opposition right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party, charged that there had been no funding for anti-flood barriers along the Elbe River basin in Usti. Mr Sulc was reacting to recent criticism by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, suggesting it was the state that had been caught off guard. Regional Governor for south Bohemia and south Moravia Stanislav Juranek - a member of the Christian Democrats - has expressed discontent over delays in projects that he contends could have minimised damages. Earlier in the week, the Cabinet earmarked 380 million crowns (15.5 million US dollars) to aid the regions affected by the floods now. Later on Sunday the Cabinet will meet to discuss further steps.
Some 4,000 people in the area of Breclav, south Moravia were ordered to evacuate by their regional governor Stanislav Juranek. Villages there have been hit by waters from the confluence of the Dyje and Jevisovka Rivers, creating a massive lake in the area that had been divided by a railway embankment. That has now been breached and floodwaters joined. Further on, a number of villages are not considering evacuation for the time being: around 90 volunteers, soldiers, and fire fighters have been working on a 60 metre long bulwark to try and keep flood waters back.
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