Around a hundred members of the Czech counter-terrorist unit have left for Afghanistan, Chief-of-Staff Pavel Stefka told reporters on Thursday. The soldiers will join the rest of the unit who had arrived in the country in April to take part in the US-led operation Enduring Freedom. The contingent is similar to one sent to Afghanistan two years ago; it had 120 members and was under United States command. Currently there are another two Czech contingents serving in Afghanistan, but they operate under NATO command.
A report by the Interior Ministry says that last month the lowest number of people applied for asylum in the Czech Republic since 1999. Asylum applications were filed by 218 foreigners in April, most of them from Ukraine and Kazakhstan, followed by Belarus, Turkey and Russia. Since 1990, more than 82,000 foreigners have applied for asylum in the Czech Republic. Asylum was granted to almost 3,000.
Another poll by the STEM agency suggests that Culture Minister Vitezslav Jandak remains the most popular politician in the Czech Republic, with 70 percent of public support. He is followed by three Social Democrat politicians - Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Education Minister Petra Buzkova and PM and party chairman Jiri Paroubek. Prague Mayor and opposition Civic Democrat deputy chairman Pavel Bem came fifth in the poll. President Vaclav Klaus was not included in the poll.
A Czech government delegation has signed an agreement in South Korea with Hyundai Motor on the construction of the company's new car plant in Nosovice in North Moravia. The document was signed by the Czech Trade and Industry Minister Milan Urban and the vice-president of Huyndai Motor Kim Dong-jin. Minister Urban said that he is not afraid that the current investigation into the financial scandal in the company could delay the construction. Hyundai is planning to invest some 800 million dollars in the Czech Republic.
The Czech international footballer Tomas Galasek has signed a new two-year contract with Germany's Nuremburg, after leaving Ajax Amsterdam on a free transfer. Galasek, who is 33, has been playing in the Dutch league since 1996. He was appointed Czech national captain after Pavel Nedved quit, though it is not clear whether he or Nedved will captain the Czech Republic at the World Cup in Germany, after the Juventus midfielder made a return to international football.
According to a poll carried out by the SC&C agency, around fifty percent of Czechs would support a total ban on smoking in public areas, including restaurants, while 41 percent are against it. The poll suggests that supporters of the ban prevail among women, senior citizens and followers of the Christian Democrat Party, whose deputy Josef Janecek has repeatedly failed to push through the ban in the lower house of the Czech parliament.
The Supreme Court has taken the final step to fully rehabilitate late political prisoner Viktorin Heller as it annulled the last verdict imposed on him by the Communist judiciary in the 1950s, the Supreme Court informed on its website. The Supreme Court dealt with Mr Heller's case upon the proposal by the Justice Ministry. In 1955, Mr Heller was sentenced to 10 years in prison for high treason and theft of state property. As a high-ranking member of the Czechoslovak Sokol (Falcon) sport community, he was charged with subverting the communist regime and theft of state property. After the collapse of communism in 1989, the courts partially rehabilitated Mr Heller, but they did not annul the sentence for alleged property crime completely.
The Education Ministry will be able to divide up to the equivalent of 110 billion crowns - or 4 billion euros (roughly 5 billion US dollars) - from EU funds mainly on development and research in 2007-13 according to Education Minister Petra Buzkova. Of the total more than 70 billion crowns is to be destined directly for science and research, and mainly for the development of institutions that do research applicable in practice. The position of Czech science is not as well off compared to other European states. The Czech Republic now supports research and development with about 1.3 percent of the GDP while the share is twice that on average in other advanced countries.
A Czech government delegation has left for South Korea to sign a contract with Hyundai on the construction of the company's new car plant in Nosovice, Moravia in the eastern part of the Czech Republic. The signing ceremony is expected to go ahead despite reports that Hyundai may have to put off the start of construction work due to an investigation into corruption allegations against senior representatives of the company. But, Trade and Industry Minister Milan Urban, who heads the delegation, has said that Hyundai officials have assured him that construction work will start on schedule.