The Czech unemployment rate slipped by 0.1 of a percentage point to 7.4 percent in June, the national labour office announced on Tuesday. The overall total of those without work still stands above half a million at just over 537,000. The latest fall is said to be largely due to recruitment for summer jobs and the ongoing recovery in the economy. The unemployment total has been dropping consistently since January.
Four Czech soldiers were killed and several more injured in a suicide terrorist attack in Afghanistan’s Parwan province, where the massive Bagram air base is sited, in the early hours of Tuesday, according to Czech Defence Ministry. The attack is reported to have killed ten civilians and two Afghan policemen.The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message to the media. Czechs have a contingent of around 150 which helps to protect the air base. Nine soldiers Czech soldiers have died in total during the Afghan mission.
The Brno-based travel agency Monmare has announced it has gone out of business and declared bankruptcy. It is the second major Czech travel agency to crash so far this year. The company said that low prices on the travel market meant that it could not cover its costs and continue. The agency said it has 86 Czech tourists abroad at the moment, most in Bulgaria but some in Turkey. They will not apparently be forced to cut short their holidays and special measures to get them home will not be required.
A court in Plzeň has been forced to reopen a murder trial because of a mix-up over the age of the accused. The man, Hieu Nguyen Manh, was originally sentenced to four years for the murder of his girlfriend on the grounds that he was 17 years old at the time of the crime. In now turns out that he is 21 months older than he appears on his passport given out when he arrived in the Czech Republic aged 13. As a result he counts as an adult and could face a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka started a tour of all ministries to check up on their progress on Tuesday. And he said it was not by chance that he selected the Ministry of Culture as the first stop on his ministerial tour. He said that it had become a Cinderella ministry over recent years and had borne the brunt of spending cuts. He said he wanted to change that and by the end the government’s term to boost its budget to around one percent of Gross Domestic Product. The prime minister also said steps would also have to be taken to address lower than average wages in the culture sector although many employed there are graduates. But he also suggested that the ministry become more involved in preparations to marks major events, such as next year’s 600th anniversary of the death of Jan Hus, and a Czech-Bavarian exhibition being prepared.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka is to pay a series of inspection visits to all ministries in the next few days to be briefed in detail on their plans and priorities. On Tuesday he is to visit the Ministry of Culture where Culture Minister Daniel Herman will inform him on the reconstruction of Czech cultural monuments, support for Czech film and other plans in the pipeline. The Czech government wants to gradually increase financing for culture to 1 percent of the GDP, which is the present European standard.
Slovak President Andrej Kiska is due to arrive in Prague on Tuesday for a two-day visit. He is to be received with military honours at Prague Castle by President Miloš Zeman and later meet with Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Senate chairman Milan Stěch. The Czech Republic and Slovakia spent 73 years in a common state and the two countries enjoy above-standard bilateral relations.
The head of the Energy Regulatory Office Alena Vitásková has criticized the government-proposed amendment to the energy law. At a press briefing in Prague on Monday Ms. Vitásková said that the law should guarantee fair and equal rights to all players on the energy scene, noting that in its present form the draft law would create a privileged space for monopoly producers and distributers and disadvantage consumers. The Industry and Trade Ministry which drafted the amendment has not so far responded to the criticism.
A group of Vietnamese police officers and lawyers are due to arrive in the Czech Republic later this month to help the Czech authorities deal with the Vietnamese community’s growing involvement in drug-related crime. The officers will serve as undercover agents and try to infiltrate Vietnamese drug gangs which are involved in growing marihuana and trafficking the home-made drug crystal methamphetamine not only in the Czech Republic but to neighbouring Germany. Following Czech-German talks on cracking down on cross border crime last month, Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec on Monday met with his Vietnamese counterpart in Prague to consider effective means of addressing the problem.
The British authorities have declassified part of a large collection of KGB files smuggled out of Russia in 1992 by senior KGB official Vasili Mitrokhin, the AP news agency reported on Monday. The so-called “Mitrokhin archive” is considered to be the biggest and most significant collection of documents relating to the work of the KGB and its agents. Among others, the files list undercover agents sent to Czechoslovakia to infiltrate the dissidents behind the 1968 Prague Spring pro-democracy movement. The declassified files can be viewed at Cambridge University.