Czech Republic midfielder Vladimir Smicer has suffered a setback in his recovery from a leg injury, putting his participation at the World Cup finals in doubt. The Girondins Bordeaux player has been struggling for fitness since a February tendon injury behind his right knee. At the Czech Republic training camp in Seefeld, Austria, team doctors found a blood clot in his thigh muscle. Team doktor Jiri Fousek said it was unlikely Smicer would play in friendlies before the side's first game at the World Cup against the U.S. on June 12.
Two more cases of bird flu have been detected in the Czech Republic. The infected swans were found near the town of Kostice in the south eastern part of the country. Both were killed by the deadly H5N1 virus. Safety measures introduced in the region include a ban on outdoor breeding and transport of live birds and poultry products. This is the first incidence of the deadly bird flu virus in the eastern part of the country, earlier cases appeared in southern Bohemia where infected birds were found in five different localities. No new cases have been reported there since May 10th.
An exhibition on the Romany Holocaust, which premiered in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, opened on Thursday in Prague. It documents the fate of individuals and whole families who were killed by the Nazis during World War Two. The exhibition also aims to highlight prevailing discrimination against the Romany population in present day Europe. An estimated nine million Roma live in the EU countries and 15 million in the whole of Europe. Close to 11,000 people claimed Romany nationality in the Czech Republic's latest census but the country is believed to be home to some 250,000 Roma.
The Czech Intelligence Service has made public unique documents from the history of espionage. The records document the collaboration of secret services within the former communist block, particularly the collaboration between the Soviet KGB and the Czechoslovak communist secret police, or STB. Some of the documents reveal the STB tactics used against the Church, dissidents and exiles.
The Senate has approved a bill that would lower value added tax on certain foodstuffs such as coffee, tea and chocolate but leave the tax rate on alcohol unchanged. The amendment would move the selected items to a preferential, 5-percent VAT bracket, harmonising taxes on all food, while the tax rate on alcohol would remain 19 percent. The bill has yet to be signed into law by the president.
The European Commission has officially informed Austria that safety standards at the Temelin nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia are adequate. The EU Commissioner for Energy Andris Piebalgs said in a letter to a member of the Austrian Parliament that Temelin's safety standard had been checked by a team of twenty inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency before the plant was put into operation and that no shortcomings were found. Austrian politicians and environmentalists who have been trying to get the plant closed on safety grounds are said to have been surprised and disappointed by the EC's response.
A cinema in Jirkov, north Bohemia is refusing to show the hit film The Da Vinci Code. Manager Milos Kubelka told the newspaper Deniky Bohemia he was a Christian and said The Da Vinci Code undermined the values this country's democracy was founded on. Both the film and the novel it is based on have been slammed by Roman Catholic groups.
A bill aimed at increasing state support for the Czech film industry has been thrown out. The Chamber of Deputies had previously approved it, but on Tuesday failed to overturn a veto by President Vaclav Klaus. Under the bill cinemas, TV stations and video and DVD distributors would have had to contribute three percent of their sales to the state cinematography fund. The Czech Republic's stand at the Cannes film festival closed on Wednesday in protest at the bill's failure.