Interior Minister Jan Kubice has suggested that cooperation between different agencies in resolving the recent methanol crisis could serve as a model in the fight against illegal drugs in border areas. Illicit drugs smuggled into neighbouring Germany are largely produced in western border areas and 40 percent of drugs seized in the Czech Republic are uncovered in border areas with Germany. According to the National Anti-Drug Agency, that amounted to around one-eighth or even one-sixth of the drugs produced. Earlier this week the interior minister visited Warsaw to meet with his Polish counterpart to discuss anti-drug measures.
President Václav Klaus, in an interview for the Czech daily Lidové noviny, has said the government, through its actions, had only itself to blame for the loss of a comfortable majority in the Chamber of Deputies (formerly 118 mandates). The president suggested that the prime minister and other members of the centre-right cabinet needed to reflect on their manner of governing but denied he was laying obstacles in the government’s path. In the interview, Mr Klaus reiterated, for example, that pension reforms he recently vetoed were highly controversial and should be reconsidered. The president’s comments come a day after a new poll suggested that support for Petr Nečas’ centre-right government had fallen to an all-time low of just 17 percent.
Two female elephants obtained by Prague Zoo from the government of Sri Lanka, are Prague-bound, loaded onto a military Hercules plane for a roughly 17-hour flight. The animals, reportedly calm, are being attended to by zoo specialists. The elephants were loaded into special transport facilities at 9 pm local time in Pinnawala, and were driven to Colombo, where they were loaded onto the plane. Their arrival in the Sri Lankan capital was awaited by local politicians and journalists, ČTK says.
Late president Václav Havel would have been “caught off guard” if he could have known that Prague’s international airport would be renamed in his honour, former close aide Ladislav Špaček has said. Mr Špaček told the Czech news agency on Friday, following the official renaming, that the former president, who died last December, had no longer thought he was important for Czech society, and would have been surprised by the expression of loss and respect his passing aroused. The renaming of the airport in Ruzyně to Václav Havel Airport Prague (Letiště Václava Havla Praha in Czech) took place at noon on Friday - the 76th anniversary of the Mr Havel’s birthday; numerous politicians, celebrities and members of the public attended. The current president, Václav Klaus, and the prime minister were notably absent.
Two people were injured at Rabí near Klatovy on Saturday during an amateur car race. A 22-year-old driver lost control of his vehicle in a turn and hit two onlookers: a 45-year-old man who suffered a head and chest injury and a younger viewer who was hurt in the leg. The race was cancelled as a result of the accident. None of the injuries are life-threatening.
Preliminary tests, conducted on blood samples in Prague, have ruled out methanol poisoning in the case of a 60-year-old Czech man admitted to hospital in Cheb on Saturday morning. Poisoning was suspected after the patient collapsed in the emergency room, his nose bleeding; doctors were later informed the man had drunk around half a litre of spirits, vodka and plum brandy, the evening before. The patient, once stabilised, was transferred to a hospital in Sokolov. Some 80 people in the Czech Republic suffered methanol poisoning since September 14th after drinking laced bootleg liquor; almost 30 of them died. The outbreak forced the government to declare temporary partial prohibition and tough new measures.
A court has rejected a request from MP David Rath to be released from prison on bail. The District Court for Prague East made the decision on Friday citing concerns that the former governor of Central Bohemia could flee the country. Two other suspects involved in the corruption scandal were released on bail this week. Dr. Rath and five others have been in prison since May, when the then-governor of Central Bohemia was arrested after receiving seven million crowns in a box. He and ten others are charged with bribery and manipulating public tenders.
The absence of President Václav Klaus from Friday’s airport ceremony was remarked upon and even criticised by a number of the VIP guests in attendance. Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra and Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda both said they would have expected the president to attend. The author of the plan to rename the airport, producer Fero Fenič, said he was disappointed by the president’s absence, as he had hoped Mr Klaus would be consistent in the admiration he had shown for his predecessor at Mr Havel’s funeral last December. Mr Klaus did not give a reason for not attending and his schedule for the day was unknown. Presidents Klaus and Havel were generally considered to be heated political rivals and distant from one another personally and professionally.
Confidence in the government is at an all-time low, according to a new poll by the STEM agency. The survey suggests that confidence has sunk to 17%, a five-point drop since February. Confidence among followers of the senior ruling party, the Civic Democrats, dropped heavily over the course of the year, from 52% to 38%. The office of the president, meanwhile, showed a 70% confidence rating in September. The Senate and Chamber of Deputies showed results of 28 and 24%, respectively, meaning a decline of two points for the lower house.
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