A special envoy will be sent to Zambia shortly to help three Czech nationals accused of espionage in the country, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has said. The three men aged between 35 and 45 arrived in Zambia as tourists and were detained in mid-October after taking photographs outside an air-force base in the capital Lusaka. The local authorities are holding their passports and the men have to check in once a week at a local police station while awaiting trial. If convicted, they could spend up to 25 years in prison.
The Prague branch of the government Civic Democrats has decided to end its coalition with the Social Democrats at the Prague City Hall. The move was proposed on Monday by the leader of the Prague branch of the party who said the existing coalition’s policies would result in enormous debts for the capital. Mr Šťastný also demanded that new coalition talks should be started with the TOP 09 party. After last year’s municipal elections in Prague, the Civic Democrats refused to form a coalition with the winning TOP 09 at the City Hall and decided instead to cooperate with the Social Democrats.
Senator for the TOP 09 party Jaromír Štětina has suggested that officials at the Interior Ministry betrayed the government when they failed to prepare a proposal to ban the Communist Party. In a statement on Monday, Mr Štětina recommended that the government use a proposal drafted by a Senate commission set up to assess whether the existence of the Communist Party was in line with the Czech Republic’s constitution. The situation was also criticized by Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra on Sunday. The Interior Ministry was asked by the government to prepare the groundwork for a constitutional lawsuit against the party. The ministry however says it was unable to acquire sufficient material, even with the aid of experts and the intelligence services.
The dean of the West Bohemian University law school, Květoslav Růžička, who was reported missing on Friday morning, has been found in North Bohemia, local police have said. A passer-by recognized Mr Růžička by the roadside in the district of Varnsdorf and reported him to the police. Police say it is as yet unclear how Mr Růžička got there. The 65-year-old man is now undergoing medical tests. Mr Růžička has headed the law faculty since October 2010. The Plzeň law school’s doctoral programme was recently suspended as a result of continuing fallout in the wake of a plagiarism and corruption scandal. Mr Růžička has also been involved with the ongoing lawsuit between the company Diag Human and the Czech state, in which he was an arbitrator.
President Václav Klaus appointed 20 new judges in Prague on Monday. At a ceremony at Prague Castle, Mr Klaus said the number of judges should not increase much further, but Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil said he was going to propose another group of nominees by the end of the year for the president to appoint. Mr Klaus has repeatedly criticized the growing number of judges.
A team of seventeen experts from eight different countries have begun a regular peer review at the Temelín nuclear power station in South Bohemia. The safety tests organized by the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) will go on for two weeks and will focus on ten different areas, including radiation and fire protection, accident planning and daily operation of the plant. The World Association of Nuclear Operators was founded in 1989 after the Chernobyl accident as a platform for exchanging experience and information. It brings together all organizations in the world operating nuclear power generating stations.
A painting by the early Cubist painter Emil Filla auctioned off at the weekend for 10.8 million crowns, making it one of the top 20 most expensive works ever sold in the country at auction. The 1911 oil painting, titled “Utěšitel” (Comforter) is one of the main works of Filla’s early period. It was first displayed in Prague’s Municipal House in 1912. Four of Filla’s paintings worth tens of millions of crowns were stolen last week from the Peruc Chateau in Northern Bohemia, where the artist lived after WWII.
Trade unions have announced they will hold a demonstration and a march in Prague on Friday to demand more thorough investigation into large scale corruption cases. The head of the independent unions’ association ASO Bohumír Dufek said on Monday a petition would be handed over to MPs calling on them to set up a committee which would oversee such investigations. The protest event is scheduled to begin at 12 o’clock on Friday on Prague’s Palackého náměstí. According to its leaders, the independent unions’ association ASO which brings together 14 organizations has some 200,000 members.
Industrial companies in the Moravia-Silesia Region have reported losses in tens of millions of crowns as a result of production restrictions imposed on them in the past couple of weeks due to air pollution in the region. The largest polluters are obliged to reduce production when meteorologists declare smog regulation measures. Some companies voluntarily reduce production when only a smog alert is declared. In the Ostrava and Karviná districts, a smog alert was first declared on October 31st and called off on Monday morning.
A poll commissioned by GE Money Bank suggests that almost a third of Czechs do some of their shopping abroad. The reasons are lower prices as well as a wider choice of goods. Almost half of Czech consumers who shop abroad say they are planning to travel across the border to do at least part of their Christmas shopping this year. Most of those who travel abroad to shop come from regions bordering on Germany, Poland and Austria. Six percent of those polled said they shopped abroad on a regular basis, 24 percent only occasionally. According to the poll, people from the border regions mostly purchase groceries, while people from Prague and those with a higher education tend to shop for clothes and travel to more distant countries, such as Italy and the United Kingdom.