News sites, including Czech Position, have reported that preparations are well underway for a first official visit to Prague by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The internet daily on Friday cited sources at Prague Castle who indicated the visit is planned for December. It is likely to coincide with an exhibition of artefacts from the Kremlin at Prague Castle beginning on December 9th. The Czech and Russian presidents met in Prague in April of last year during the landmark signing of a new nuclear arms reduction deal by Mr Medvedev and US President Barack Obama.
According to sources, discussions during the December visit will focus on numerous topics, including a major tender on the construction of two reactors (with options for an additional three) at the Czech nuclear power plant Temelin. The Russian company Atomstrojexport in partnership with the Czech engineering company Škoda JS is competing for the deal with the US-based Westinghouse and France’s Areva.
Czech police will maintain a heightened presence in areas of North Bohemia for at least two or three weeks, the police president Petr Lessy announced late Thursday after meeting with officials in Rumburk. Patrols in the area have been reinforced in reaction to growing tension between members of the local Roma and non-Roma community, and are intended to drive local crime down. The town of Šluknov has registered a number of violent incidents in recent weeks, while Rumburk was the site of a street fight and allegedly racially-motivated attack last weekend involving more than 20 people. On Friday some 200 police officers will monitor demonstrations that are expected to go ahead in Rumburk and Varnsdorf. In roughly three weeks, the police will assess developments and consider further steps, the police president said.
In related news, demonstrations – which have not been sanctioned by local authorities -began in Varnsdorf and Šluknov on Friday afternoon. More than 200 people in Varnsdorf turned up. A third demonstration also got under way in Rumburk, but shortly after five pm only several dozen people were on the square. Local politicians were most wary of the demonstration in Rumburk, which was originally planned by a group with reported ties to the neo-Nazi movement. In the end the demonstration was taken up by local Social Democrats who booked the square earlier.
Czech Prime Minster Petr Nečas met with his Belgian counterpart Yves Leterme in Prague on Friday – an informal meeting, ČTK reported, which included sightseeing in the historic centre. The Belgian prime minister is in the Czech Republic on a working and also private visit, heading to Příbor, near Ostrava in the east of the country later on Friday. He will be marking the 20th anniversary of Belgian company Primus CE’s operations on Czech soil. The last time a Belgian prime minister visited the Czech Republic was seven years ago: Guy Verhofstadt in 2004.
Education Minister Josef Dobeš has confirmed that teacher salaries will not suffer in 2012, but will see a promised overall financial injection of four billion crowns. He made the statement after meeting with union officials on Friday, but did not say how much actual salaries would go up. The minister indicated that 700 million crowns could come from savings this year, if agreed by Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek, and that further funds could be saved by curtailing further investment.
The leader of Public Affairs, a member in the coalition government revealed on Friday the results of a recent audit proving there was no money laundering within the political party. Radek John presented the findings, saying also that a separate audit into the finances of fellow party member Michal Babák had also found no irregularities. The report by the auditing company BDO, said it had found no signs of expedient distortion of the party’s accounting data, but stressed that there had been major shortcomings of a procedural nature. Mr John has said those will be remedied soon.
The Czech Republic could donate Russian-made An-26 Antonov transport planes – decommissioned earlier this year after 30 years of service – to Afghanistan or Iraq, a Defence Ministry spokesman has said. But he stressed that no decision has been taken yet. The move could help either country build up its own aerial defences. In the past, the Czech Republic donated 12 Russian Mi-17 and Mi-24 helicopters to Afghanistan. The Czech military has also been trying to sell off L-159 fighter planes in Asia, sources report. One of the goals of the ISAF mission in Afghanistan is to build up the country’s aerial forces by 2016.
A 44-year-old snake breeder from Ostrava-Přívoz was transported to Prague’s General Teaching Hospital on Friday after being bitten by a viper, ČTK reported. The accident took place at around 7 am; his wife called an ambulance as he began to collapse in reaction to the venom. Doctors in Ostrava, who treated the patient, opted for his transfer after consultation with toxicology specialists in Prague. The man was flown in stabilised condition and is to receive anti-venom at the hospital. But the doctor who treated him said a worsening of the patient’s condition could not be ruled out.
Last year, in a similar incident, a Czech snake breeder miraculously survived a black mamba bite which is almost always fatal. Quick reaction on the part of the breeder, who drove himself to the hospital, helped save his life.
Six people died in traffic accidents on Friday, making August 26th the worst day on Czech roads since June 30th, when seven people were killed. One motorist died on Prague 5’s busy Plzeňská street after a collision with another car sent his vehicle into a tram stop. A pedestrian was hit in the accident and was lucky to escape uninjured.
Sparta Prague beat FC Vaslui 1:0 in the second leg of the Europa League’s play offs in Prague on Thursday night; however, the hosts dropped out of the competition as they lost the first leg 2:0. Sparta, with a two-goal deficit from the first leg, pushed to score early but the Romanian team's defence resisted. With time, the visitors had some good opportunities but it was Sparta that went ahead on a goal from Manuel Pamič in the 59th minute. Sparta tried to score a second goal but ran out of time.
Clear skies are expected at the start of the weekend but Saturday will see a gradual worsening of conditions and a chance of thundershowers. Daytime temperatures on Saturday should reach highs of around 29 degrees Celsius.