Czech film director Milos Forman on Friday criticised the decision taken by a Berlin theatre to cancel a Mozart opera for fear it would lead to unrest in Islamic countries. The director of the cult film "Amadeus" about Mozart told a German daily that the decision set a dangerous precedent concerning freedom of speech. The director of the Deutsche Oper, Kirsten Harms, justified her decision on Tuesday to cancel the production of "Idomeneo" on grounds the opera presented an "incalculable risk for the safety of the public and the staff of the opera." In one of the scenes, the character of Idomeneo carries the heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Buddha and Mohamed and places them on four chairs. The cancellation has been heavily criticised by German politicians as well as Muslim associations.
Interior Minister Ivan Langer said earlier on Friday more than 40 wiretappings of politicians, journalists and their family members were carried out in the investigation into the leaks from the so-called "Kubice report". He added after a closed session of the lower house that the wiretappings were legal but they included people who had no connection with the case. Information that leaked from the secret police report shortly before the June general elections pointed to ties between organised crime and the civil service. It also included unfavourable allegations concerning former Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek. Mr Paroubek said the leaks harmed his Social Democratic Party in the elections, in which it ended second, trailing the right-of-centre Civic Democrats by three percent.
The President of Vietnam Nguyen Minh Triet has come out in favour of the completion of a readmission treaty between the Czech Republic and Vietnam under which Vietnamese citizens who breach Czech law could be returned back to their home country. Czech President Vaclav Klaus who is on an official visit to Vietnam told reporters after their meeting in Hanoi on Friday that his counterpart had not been informed about the issue at the start of their meeting but still expressed support for it. According to official data some 38,500 Vietnamese live in the Czech Republic, but the real figure is estimated to be twice as high. The two countries have been linked by traditional ties. A large number of Vietnamese studied in socialist Czechoslovakia and learnt Czech. The Czech Republic has in the long term provided development aid to Vietnam. This year it earmarked 21 million crowns for the purpose. Next year the figure will rise to 42 million and in 2008 to 47 million.
It was a good night for Czech teams in the UEFA Cup on Thursday, with three of the four clubs in competition going through to the group stage. Mlada Boleslav scored a shock 4-2 win over Olympic Marseille, sending the French team out of the tournament. Liberec qualified after defeating Red Star Belgrade 2-1, while Sparta Prague drew 0-0 with Hearts, winning 2-0 on aggregate to go through. Meanwhile Slavia Prague put up a brave fight against Tottenham Hotspur, eventually losing 1-0.
The lower house of the Czech Parliament has called on Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, Interior Minister Ivan Langer and deputy Prime Minister Petr Necas to step down over their statements regarding the leaks from the so-called Kubice report. The lower house agreed at its Friday session that the three Civic Democrat officials had alleged without providing evidence that the former government of prime minister Jiri Paroubek had misused police wiretappings carried out in connection with the case.
A court in the Bahamas has confirmed an earlier ruling that the country can extradite Irish financier of Czech extraction Viktor Kozeny to the United States where he is facing corruption charges over his business activities in Azerbaijan. Mr Kozeny and his defence counsels said instantly that they would appeal the verdict. Viktor Kozeny (43) was one of the chief protagonists of the Czechoslovak voucher privatisation in the early 1990s. He later came under serious suspicion of illegal dealings in the Czech Republic. At the U.S. instigation, Mr Kozeny has been in the custody in the Bahamas since last October. Last May, the Czech authorities also asked the Bahamas for Mr Kozeny's extradition, but the request has not yet been passed to court.
The US Embassy in Prague has recommended that all US citizens visiting the Czech capital exercise caution with regards to a possible terrorist threat. The embassy released the statement on Wednesday - ahead of the state holiday - but said it had no specific information about any planned attack. An embassy spokesperson said that the recommendation came in reaction to questions by US citizens following a declaration by the Czech government last weekend stressing Prague was at threat. Special security measures in the city were introduced and remain in effect. The embassy has asked citizens to report anything out of the ordinary to the police.
The Association of Travel Agencies of the Czech Republic has revealed that the number of tourists visiting Prague has dropped for the first time since 1989. In the first quarter of 2006 the Czech capital saw 2.9 million visits by foreign tourists - four percent less than the same period one year ago. Roughly two-thirds of those who come to the Czech Republic visit the Czech capital. Reasons for the drop in the number of visitors 17 years after the Velvet Revolution says a representative of the Association of Travel Agencies, include the fact that many more Europeans are now familiar with the city. Meanwhile, although Prague saw fewer visitors in the first quarter of this year than before, the number of visitors from further abroad such as the US, Russia, Japan and China, continues to increase.
Czech footballer Milan Baros is set to return to the national squad for two upcoming Euro 2008 qualification matches. Those are set against San Marino and Ireland. Baros, who plays for Aston Villa in the English Premiership, has recovered from injury and could be an important asset for the Czechs: so far, the Czech Republic has won qualification matches against Wales and neighbouring Slovakia, putting it atop Group D standings just behind Germany. Other players nominated for the upcoming games include goalkeepers Petr Cech - who plays for Chelsea - and Marek Cech (unrelated) who plays for Slovan Liberec.