The country's Defence Ministry has awarded a contract, worth 28 million crowns, for the installation of radios and GPS equipment in Iveco armoured vehicles to the company MEDTEC-VOP, Defence Ministry spokeswoman Jana Zechmeisterova has told the Czech news agency. The representative said the firm won the deal in an open tender by offering the most advantageous price. The Czech Army was given the Ivecos from the US under a programme in which the US helps equip allied forces. "As the delivery of the goods from the USA lasted almost three years, the installation of the equipment could not be conducted as part of the contract concluded with PRAGA-Export in 2009" Ms Zechmeisterova said. The contract mainly relates to the installation of radios and receivers of the GPS signal. The donated Ivecos are already being used by various units in the Czech Army.
The Deputy Speaker of the European Parliament, Social Democrat Libor Rouček slammed presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney in a Social Democratic Party blog, writing that the world "did not deserve as its most powerful politician" another "paler version" of George W. Bush. In the blog, Mr Rouček referred to Mitt Romney's recent foreign trip to London, Israel and Poland, slamming the candidate for a number of controversial statements that stirred the political waters. in the past Mr Romney has referred to Poland's neighbor, Russia, as America's number one geopolitical foe. In Mr Rouček's view - the candidate went as far as to damage US interests in the Middle East through comments pertaining to the Palestinians and Israel, referring to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Polls in the US suggest that Mr Romney continues to trail incumbent Barack Obama, if only just.
Several dozen people took part in a special mass on Saturday at Prague's St Vitus cathedral marking 20 years since the death of Cardinal František Tomášek. The mass was led by Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka. The archbishop recalled Tomášek was persecuted by the former Communist regime, spending three years at a labour camp at the monastery in želiv before he was released in 1954. The cardinal had displayed unwavering strength and optimism despite living most of his life under the former regime, Archbishop Duka said.
Some 150 Czech Romanies to be evicted over poor technical and sanitary conditions from the Prednadrazi slum in Ostrava would not leave by a set deadline, Jan Bandy, a member of the local self-rule body created by the tenants, told the Czech news agency on Saturday. The relocation was ordered by the planning and building authority on the grounds that the buildings were no longer inhabitable. Mr Bandy said the locals had instead decided implement minor repairs; Bandy said there were still some 25 families or 180 people in the houses, many of them children. Indian-born activist Kumar Vishwanathan, from the civic group Co-Existence - helping the residents - confirmed that they had opted to repair the old homes gradually.
The regional leadership of Central Bohemia will take steps to try and end a contract with one its representatives in Brussels, Marek Semerád, says news website idnes. The Social Democrat representative, reportedly 10th on the candidates’ list in regional elections in the autumn, has come under media scrutiny – and criticism from the opposition – for an unusually ironclad contract he signed with former regional governor David Rath (currently awaiting trial on corruption charges). The contract apparently can only be dissolved through mutual agreement or will remain valid until 2013. According to the daily, in addition to his official activities, Mr Semerád also conducted private business in Brussels, raising questions over potential conflict-of-interest. The official denied he had received any word the region was planning to let him go.
Senator Jiří Dienstbier, the Social Democratic Party’s nominee for president, officially launched his campaign on Friday near the presidential Lány Chateau. As part of his campaign, the candidate intends to receive backing from at least 50,000 voters. Technically, as a parliamentary party nominee, Mr Dienstbier has no need of the signatures that non-party candidates must amass in order to run. But he made clear that he felt it was a minimal requirement he would fulfil. Thirteen others are at various stages of preparing their candidacies ahead of the country’s first-ever direct presidential elections, to be held early next year. One of those aiming to get elected, former prime minister Miloš Zeman, has already received the 50,000 signatures required.
Social Democratic Party leader Bohuslav Sobotka has told Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes his party was not in crisis despite the departure of several politicians – most recently Senator Vladimir Drmyl – who crossed over to the Party of Civic Rights (the so-called Zemanovci) headed by former prime minister Miloš Zeman. The party recently jumped in opinion polls, meeting the necessary five percent threshold to make it into the lower house of Parliament if elections were held today. Mr Sobotka suggested the boost was a result of Mr Zeman’s candidacy for president adding that the party would fold or fall part “when Mr Zeman lost his bid”. He also expressed the conviction that Czechs would not elect a “face of the ‘90s”; opinion polls, however, have put Mr Zeman in second place behind early leader Jan Fischer, also a former prime minister.