The lower house of Parliament has approved a proposal to postpone the obligatory use of monitored cash registers by one year. All cash register activities of small businesses were to be recorded and monitored as of January 2007 in order to help the government fight against the grey economy. Under the new law, those small retailers and restaurants that fail to comply could be fined up to half a million Czech crowns.
The Culture Ministry has declared the famous Maj building in Prague a cultural monument. The building, the ministry says, is an important example of 1970s architecture - drawing on earlier styles like Functionalism but its interior foreshadowing the style known as High-Tech. Maj was designed by architects Miroslav Masak, John Eisler and Martin Rajnis of the Liberec SIAL studio and was completed in 1975. Most foreign visitors will be familiar with the Maj building located on the city's Narodni trida street: it's the site of the Tesco department store.
Organised crime groups, influential businessmen, and suspected terrorists
are all threatening the country's security, according to a
counter-intelligence service (BIS) report. The annual report for 2005 says
there is evidence that organised crime groups are trying to influence
courts, several entrepreneurs have bribed state employees to gain
confidential information, and there is reason to believe that terrorists
had planned an attack on the Czech Republic.
Last year, for example, three Egyptian nationals failed to enter the cockpit on a Czech Airlines flight from Oslo to Prague. The BIS did not view it as a failed hijacking but a move to test flight security for a future terrorist attack. The three men have been deported back to Egypt.
Outgoing Civic Democrat Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek says he knows of a member of parliament who is being pressurised into voting for a Social Democrat government. Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, he said he could not reveal the MPs name or party. Mr Topolanek already suggested in a radio interview on Monday that three Christian Democrat MPs are either being put under pressure or bribed to support a Social Democrat government in a vote of confidence in the lower house of Parliament. The acting head of the Christian Democrats, Jan Kasal, has ruled out the possibility.
Several Czech women's organisations are opposed to building a US anti-missile base in the Czech Republic, fearing it would increase the risk of terrorist attack. The women are reacting to the Czech Republic being one of several countries in Central Europe named as a potential site of such a base. The protesting organisations' representatives say a referendum should be held before a definite decision is made. Opinion polls suggest that three fifths of the population would vote against the US base.
The five parliamentary parties continue to hold differing views on the country's political future and will have to tone down demands if government negotiations are to be successful. This according to President Vaclav Klaus, after meeting with Communist Party representatives on Tuesday. Following the failure of the Civic Democrats to win a confidence vote for their minority government, Mr Klaus faces the task of entrusting someone to try to form a new government. The Czech President intends to hold talks with each parliamentary party and wait for the results of the second round of the Senate elections this weekend before he makes the decision.
The winner of Radio Prague's annual radio competition, Dimitrij Balykin of Russia, has arrived for a week's stay in the Czech capital. Mr Balykin, along with several hundred others took part in the competition, but his entry on the topic of "Czech sounds" was judged the best by the jury. Mr Balykin wrote about the usefulness of audio in Prague's metro especially for the blind and poor-sighted. Mr Balykin himself is blind. His week in the capital will include visiting a number of key tourist sites, as well as sitting down for an interview with Radio Prague - the international service of Czech Radio.
To an extent, the local and Senate elections have been viewed as a
referendum on the inconclusive parliamentary elections in June which
prevented politicians from forming a stable government: Mirek
Topolanek's cabinet failed in a vote of confidence after just 30 days.
President Vaclav Klaus commented the results by saying they were an
indication of the mood in Czech society and that they signalled a
political solution to the country's drawn out crisis. He is expected to
name a new prime minister designate after the Senate elections
Meanwhile, acting Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told journalists on Monday that his party's success in the municipal and Senate elections is not likely to make negotiations on a new government any easier. But, he did suggest they could be a signal for political rivals, the Social Democrats. Mr Topolanek's Civic Democrats are pushing for early parliamentary elections as the only solution to the continuing political deadlock. The Social Democrats led by Jiri Paroubek have favoured forming a grand coalition. Negotiations on a new government are expected to resume soon.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus - attending ceremonies in Hungary commemorating the 50th anniversary of Hungarian uprising against Soviet rule - has said that he would be glad if the young generation never forgot what occurred in Hungary 50 years ago. "Forgetting", the president said, meant facing "formidable consequences". The president stressed that there was no danger today of the emergence of a communist regime similar to the one that brutally suppressed the Hungarian Uprising in 1956. The ceremonies to mark the anniversary are being attended in Budapest by dozens of foreign delegations. Fighting that occurred during the uprising in 1956, mostly in Budapest, cost 2,600 Hungarians their lives. More than 200 people were executed for their roles in the uprising and 200,000 people fled the country.
Frantisek Frolich and Vladimir Korner have been awarded the annual state prize for translation, and literature, respectively. 62-year-old Frolich, a specialist in English and Scandinavian languages, has translated drama and prose into Czech, including works by Karen Blixen, Hans Christian Andersen, August Strindberg and Harold Pinter. 70-year-old Vladimir Korner, who received the prize for literature, is the author of numerous well-known Czech novels as well as screenplays. He is perhaps most highly regarded for Valley of the Bees, made into a film by the late Czech filmmaker Frantisek Vlacil. The state prizes for literature and translation are worth 250,000 and 125,000 crowns and are presented by the Culture Ministry.