The ice hockey stadium in the west Bohemian town of Litvinov is to be renamed the Ivan Hlinka Stadium, in honour of the much respected player and coach, who tragically died in a car crash last week. Mr Hlinka began playing for Litvinov in 1962 at the age of 12, and stayed at the club for 19 years. After a successful career as a player he coached the Czech team which won gold at the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Former dissident John Bok, who has been on hunger strike since Monday, says he wants to increase pressure on Stanislav Gross to resign as prime minister. Mr Bok said he was inspired to begin the hunger strike by protests against Mr Gross's appointment of Pavel Pribyl as head of the Office of the Government. Mr Pribyl resigned when evidence emerged a riot police unit he commanded in 1989 used violence against anti-Communist protesters.
The Czech National Bank has - as expected - decided to raise interest rates by 0.25 percentage points. On Friday the repo rate will grow to 2.50 percent, the discount rate will rise to 1.50 percent and the Lombard rate to 3.50 percent, a spokesman for the Bank said on Thursday. The increase will result in higher interest rates on loans and deposits at commercial banks.
One of the greatest Czech athletes of all time, javelin thrower Jan Zelezny, has been elected a member of the International Olympic Committee for the second time. Zelezny received the second highest number of votes among 29 candidates in Athens on Thursday. The javelin legend has three Olympic gold medals and will be hoping to add to that collection on Saturday evening, when he competes at the Games for the last time.
Austrian President Heinz Fischer, on his first state visit to the Czech Republic as Austria's head of state, met with his Czech counterpart Vaclav Klaus at Prague Castle on Wednesday. Besides the European Union, the main topics discussed were the Benes decrees and the Temelin nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia - a thorn in the side of nuclear-free Austria. Although both presidents agreed to foster good relations, Mr Fischer noted he would welcome a reconciliatory gesture from the Czechs regarding the Benes decrees, which sanctioned the expulsion of some 2.5 million ethnic Germans from post-war Czechoslovakia and have been criticised by Austrians and Germans, who want the decrees to be revoked.
Thousands of Czechs gathered at a cemetery in the northern town of Litvinov on Wednesday, to honour Czech ice hockey coach Ivan Hlinka. Hlinka, died tragically in a car accident last week at the age of 54. The funeral was also attended by Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, top model Eva Herzigova who comes from Litvinov, and Czech national ice hockey team members Robert Reichel, Martin Rucinsky and Jiri Slegr who chose to miss the preparatory match before the World Cup in Germany, to pay their respects to the man who led their team to victory at the 1998 Olympics at Nagano.
Police said on Wednesday the head of a monastery sold dozens of rare books that had been placed in his care by the National Museum in Prague. The old Cistercian monastery at Plasy, now state property, was used to store about 50 books from the museum collection, a police spokesman said. After removing the museum reference numbers, the monastery director allegedly sold them to two second-hand book dealers. The most valuable of the books was an 18th century atlas, valued at 31,500 euros, which was sold to an anonymous buyer and was not recovered.
The new coalition government of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has
passed its first crucial test, receiving a vote of confidence late
Tuesday, some 7 hours after deliberations began in the Chamber of
Deputies. Throughout the day Parliament heard extensive speeches from
MPs either for or against the government. The prime minister spoke at
length about the goals of his cabinet, saying it would make social
issues a priority. However, the opposition Civic Democrats, expressed
their dissatisfaction with the government's programme, warning it would
lead the country to stagnation and debt.
No MPs from either opposition party - the Civic Democrats or the Communists - voted in the cabinet's favour.
Finally, because the ruling coalition enjoys just the slimmest of majorities - 101 votes in a 200 member parliament - two ill MPs were required to leave their hospital beds on Tuesday to make an appearance in the Lower House. Their presence ensured the new government was able to clinch the minimum number of votes.
The Czech cabinet has approved the appointment of former dissident Ales Sulc as the new head of the government's office. Mr Sulc, the current head of the interior ministry's security department, replaces Pavel Pribyl, who resigned on Friday following growing public pressure over his past in the communist era police - he headed a riot police unit that violently dispersed anti-communist demonstrators in January 1989. His successor, Ales Sulc, is a human rights activist and signatory of the Charter 77 human rights manifesto.
Ahead of the Czech National Bank's meeting later this week, Finance
Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Tuesday the National Bank should not
rush an interest rate hike. It has been widely expected the bank will
raise rates by a quarter point to 2.50 percent. But, the finance
minister said he had a more optimistic prognosis for inflation in 2004
and 2005, expecting the inflation rate would stay below 3.00 percent.
The Czech National Bank is an independent institution on which the government wields only limited influence. Nevertheless, on Tuesday Minister Sobotka suggested the bank should "act responsibly" in lieu of the cabinet's plan to kick-off high growth.
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