The Czech president, Václav Klaus, met with the Russian leader, Dmitry Medvedev, in Moscow on Wednesday. Mr Klaus told reporters after a two-hour meeting that he would not abandon the condition he had set down for finalizing the ratification of EU’s Lisbon treaty but that he wouldn’t “send out signals” about his next steps concerning the document’s ratification. Both politicians discussed issues related to Czech-Russian cooperation; Mr Klaus invited his Russian counterpart to visit Prague.
Last week, Václav Klaus announced he would not complete the ratification of the Lisbon treaty unless the Czech Republic is granted an exception form the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. He said it could lead to property claims from ethnic Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after WWII.
In related news, the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, dismissed on Wednesday reports on increased activity of Russian intelligence in the Czech Republic. Speaking after meeting with Czech President Václav Klaus in Moscow, the Russian leader said such reports were “Cold War era conspiracy theories”. Mr Medvedev added that Czech-Russian relations were very good and friendly.
Two Russian diplomats were expelled from the Czech Republic in August this year for alleged espionage. Moscow later retaliated by expelling two Czech diplomats from Russia. The Czech intelligence had also warned that Russian spies were particularly interested in in the Czech army and US plans to build a radar base in central Bohemia.
Czech police have arrested 160 members of an alleged child porn distribution network, a Prague police spokeswoman told reporters on Wednesday. In one of the biggest cases of its kind in the country’s history, the police carried out 150 home searches, confiscated 342 computers and other devices, and arrested some 160 suspects aged 20 to 70, including two current and one former police officers. Most of them have reportedly confessed.
The police was alerted by one of the suspect’s girlfriend who went to the police in Prague. Most suspects, some 40 of whom are women, were arrested in the capital and north and south Moravia.
The European Commission highlighted on Wednesday the poor state of Czech public finances. It kept the Czech Republic in a group of EU member states with the worst finances due to high deficits and the impacts of the economic crisis. The Czech Republic is in the worst of three groups, alongside the UK, the Netherlands, Ireland, Slovakia and others. The commission noted that any improvement in Czech public finances would require an ambitious consolidation programme to lower its debts and deficits in the coming years, as well as a thorough reform of the social welfare system.
The Czech Republic has relatively low overall debt; however, it is growing fast. This year, the state budget deficit is expected to reach 5.5 percent of gross domestic product.
US Vice President Joe Biden is set to visit Prague on October 23 for talks with the Czech president, Václav Klaus, and Prime Minister Jan Fischer, the ČTK news agency reported on Wednesday. Mr Biden is coming some five weeks after the administration of Barack Obama scrapped plans to position elements of a US anti-missile defence shield in the Czech Republic and Poland. The vice president is expected to assure Czech officials of the importance the region has for the United States. Mr Biden will also visit Poland and Romania during his European tour.
The former Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, and education minister Ondřed Liška, launched an intelligence operation during their term in the government against the country’s biggest lottery operator Sazka, the news website aktualne.cz reported on Wednesday. The Czech intelligence service, BIS, concluded that some of Sazka’s operations posed a security threat for the Czech Republic. The report highlighted Sazka representatives were connected to various public officials.
Two Czech nationals were arrested in Havana, Cuba in June this year over “homosexual behaviour”, and are awaiting trial, Frekvence 1 radio reported on Wednesday. The Czech Foreign Ministry confirmed the report, although did not comment on the cause of the arrest. A spokesman for the ministry said both Czechs had regularly been in touch with the Czech embassy in the Cuban capital.
Czech tennis player beat Russia’s Marat Safin at the Shanghai Masters on Wednesday 3:6, 6:4 and 6:4, and advanced into the tournament’s third round. The Russian player then refused to shake hands with the Czech, arguing Berdych feigned injury during the game.
The International Tennis Federation on Wednesday suspended Ivo Minář, a member of the Czech Davis Cup team, for eight month for doping. The federation said a sample the Czech tennis player provided after the Davis Cup quarterfinal against Argentina in Ostrava in July, contained a prohibited stimulant.
Severe weather conditions, particularly snow and strong winds, have caused problems in several regions of the country. The end of the week will be chilly, with overcast skies and rain and snow expected. Highest day temperatures should not exceed 4 degrees Celsius.