The interior minister, Stanislav Gross, has dismissed press reports that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, could be in danger during a planned visit to Prague. The daily Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Friday that Czech intelligence agents had learned that Mr Putin and his wife could face an unnamed threat during the visit, the date of which has not been confirmed. Mr Gross said the Russian president would receive the same level of security as had been put in place for a visit by his United States counterpart, George Bush.
Meanwhile, Minister Gross is considering pushing for stronger penalties for attacks on ambulance staff and other health workers. Mr Gross said on Friday that he would first ask the Health Ministry to prepare an analysis of such attacks. Earlier, the minister of health, Marie Souckova, had asked for an increase in protection against aggressive patients, following an incident last weekend in which a member of the Prague Emergency Service was left with concussion after a brutal attack.
Representatives of the Visegrad Four countries have said they believe a compromise can be reached soon on a European Union constitution, and that the document could be accepted by the end of the year. The state secretaries of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia were speaking after a meeting in Prague on Friday. The Czech representative, Jan Kohout, said Prague had a "flexible" position as regards the constitution. Talks on the EU constitution collapsed last month due to disagreements over key issues such as voting rights.
Authorities in Austria have banned a blockade of the Czech-Austrian border in protest at the Czech Temelin nuclear power station planned for this weekend. The district governor's office in Gmeund said on Friday the arguments protesters had put forward for carrying out the blockades were groundless. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the group Stop Temelin said the anti-nuclear activists would not hold an unofficial blockade. Temelin's opponents say it is not safe because it combines Soviet design and Western technology.
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel is still fighting a bronchial infection which forced him to cut short a visit to Asia last week, his doctor told Friday's edition of the newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes. Mr Havel's condition has worsened since his return, though he has not been hospitalised. The former president has had serious health problems since undergoing a lung cancer operation in 1996.
Czechs are using the internet more, according to statistics released by the group iAudit on Friday. Internet use was almost 30 percent higher last month than it was the previous December, with almost 3.6 million people logging on. The Czech Republic has a population of around 10 million.
Saturday should be cloudy around the country with rain or snow showers in places. Temperatures are expected to range from +1 to +5 degrees Celsius.
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