The Czech inflation rate hit an 11-month high in November on rising prices of food as the central bank is debating whether to cut interest rates amid slowing economic growth. Food and non-alcoholic beverages led the price growth, rising 5.3 percent year-on-year, while the cost of alcohol and tobacco products rose 2.8 percent and transportation cost was up 4.4 percent from 2010, the Czech Statistical Office said.
The Tibetan spiritual leader, Dalai Lama, is expected to arrive in Prague on Saturday for a three-day visit at the invitation of ex-president Vaclav Havel and Forum 2,000 of which the Dalai Lama is co-founder. The Tibetan spiritual leader will be speaking at Charles University on the subject of China and its human rights record and he is expected to lead a debate on the search for happiness in an uncertain world. Dalai Lama is a close friend of Mr. Havel’s and visits the Czech Republic fairly often. He was last here two years ago.
President Klaus has criticized the centre-right cabinet saying it was weaker and less efficient than one would have expected from a government with a strong majority in Parliament. Speaking at a gathering of business leaders Mr. Klaus said this was due to both to differences over how to proceed with reforms and a series of scandals attached to cabinet members from all the coalition parties. Corruption scandals and political clashes have led to the replacement of 7 cabinet ministers within the space of a year. Despite these problems, the Necas cabinet has pushed ahead with reforms in the face of a looming recession in Europe.
According to the results of a demographic study the Czech Republic may face a sharp population decline in the coming decades. The study, which assesses the impact of various demographic developments on the pension system, says that if the present trend continues the Czech Republic could have only 6,5 million inhabitants in 90 years’ time compared to the present 10.5 million. Czech women now have 1.5 offspring on average and the dire forecast is based on a drop 1.4 in the near future.
Four of the five youths who are being tried for a brutal machete attack on a bar in the town of Novy Bor, in north Bohemia, will now be tried for attempted murder. The regional State Attorney’s Office re-assess the crime from inflicting grievous bodily harm to attempted murder on the grounds of fresh evidence and a new expert study. Three of the five suspects are behind bars, police are still searching for the other two.
Police are questioning a 20-year-old Greek national after customs officers discovered 2 kilograms of cocaine in his luggage. The drug was hidden in a spaghetti press and its value on the black market is estimated at around four million crowns. The passenger was travelling from Rio de Janeiro to Portugal and then Prague. If convicted of drugs smuggling he could face up to 12 years in prison.
The world famous Spanish tenor Jose Carreras will be giving a Christmas concert at Prague’s 02 Arena on Saturday. Mr. Carreras who will perform well-known pieces such as Cantique de Noel, I'll be home for Christmas or Ave Maria will be accompanied by Czech Radio’s Symphony Orchestra. At a press conference in Prague on Friday the world famous tenor said he regretted not having more time to enjoy the city. He has performed in Prague several times, most recently in 2008.
Prague Castle welcomed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev with official honours on Thursday morning. Czech President Václav Klaus received his Russian counterpart late Wednesday evening at the Strahov Monastery. After bilateral talks regarding economic issues and a ceremonial luncheon, President Klaus expressed his support for good aspects of the Russian bid for the completion of the Temelín nuclear power plant, saying that it provided the most subcontracts for Czech business. The Russian President later met with Prime Minister Petr Nečas, with whom he then travelled to Brussels. Mr Medvedev also opened an exhibition of artworks from the Kremlin collections at Prague Castle.
Representatives of Czech and Russian businesses concluded contracts worth tens of billions of crowns at Prague Castle on Thursday, in the presence of their respective presidents. The main deal is for the construction of a 400km railway line in the Ural Mountains worth nearly 40 billion crowns. The work is to be done under the management of the Brno-based company OHL ŽS and will be co-financed by Czech and Russian banks. Czech companies also secured three other multi-billion crown projects for the construction of fossil-fuel power stations and a chemical factory. A declaration of partnership for modernisation was also concluded between Russia and the Czech Republic, following negotiations between their delegations Thursday afternoon.
President Klaus drew fire from political pundits after Thursday’s state visit for his refusal to comment on the situation surrounding recent Russian elections. Mr Klaus summed up the question marks over the elections process and the police crackdown on antiestablishment demonstrators as Russia’s internal issue, adding that he himself did not appreciate foreign commentaries on Czech domestic affairs. Political scientists contacted by the Czech Press Agency were wholly negative, with some suggesting it showed needless or even harmful favouritism. The European Union has openly criticised the election, while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the poll was neither free nor fair. The Mr Klaus said he found the question as off the mark as asking Mr Medvedev what he thought of Wednesday’s teachers’ strike in the Czech Republic.