Jan Nadvornik has filed an appeal with the Constitutional Court over the invalidation of the Senate elections in the Prague 11 constituency. Last week the court invalidated the elections on the grounds that the election campaign had been conducted in a dishonest manner, in violation of the election law. This was in relation to a number of slanderous articles against the unsuccessful candidate which were published in the local papers. Jan Nadvornik who won the elections, has protested against the verdict, saying that he was in no way responsible for what the local papers had printed.
Arms imports to the Czech Republic have increased nearly fourfold in the past decade. A report, published on Tuesday, says that until 1989 Czech arms exports exceeded imports, but the situation changed radically in the 1990s. Last year the Czech Republic imported over 2,500 revolvers and pistols from Bulgaria, Austria and Ukraine and various types of rifles from Germany, the Netherlands and Russia. About a thousand sub-machine guns were imported from Belgium and Switzerland.
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski has called on Ukraine to focus on
the new presidential election and to put other problems such as the
resignation of the government and constitutional reforms on the back
burner. Speaking during an official visit to Prague, where he arrived just
hours after mediating talks in crisis-hit Ukraine, Mr Kwasniewski said the
election was the key to unlocking the situation in the country.
The political crisis in Ukraine was one of the main topics of debate with leading Czech officials during President Kwasniewski's one day visit to the Czech Republic. The two countries have traditionally good relations and cooperate closely within the Visegrad Group, a lose alliance of central European states. At Prague Castle President Kwasniewski was decorated with the Order of the White Lion, the highest Czech state distinction.
The Czech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has met the Czech Republic's EU Commissioner, Vladimir Spidla in Prague to discuss above all the European social policy and the Lisbon Strategy - the European Union's action and development plan. Mr Spidla, who was Mr Gross's predecessor in the post of prime minister and head of the ruling Social Democratic Party, refused to comment whether the current situation in the party, which is losing public support, was also discussed.
Several dozen conscripts have symbolically parted with the military at Prague Castle, on the eve of the abolition of compulsory military service in the Czech Republic. As of January 2005 the Czech military will become fully professional. The soldiers, coming from around 70 units from all over the country, represented the last 2,000 conscripts whose service will end before Christmas. Defence Minister Karel Kuehnl presented the conscripts with commemorative plaques and watches to mark what he called a closing of a historical period. Czech men were subject to universal conscription for the past 140 years. The length of the service had been gradually reduced to one year after the 1989 collapse of the communist regime.
The first 90 members of a new Czech and Slovak contingent have left Prague for the southern Serbian province of Kosovo to replace the members of the battalion who have served in the province since May. A special unit trained to suppress demonstrations will also operate in Kosovo. The new contingent will stay in the Balkans till July. It will guard a section of the provincial Kosovo-Serb border.
The Civic Democratic Party, which is slated to win the next general elections, has made it clear that it would fight the European Constitution. Addressing the conference the party's deputy chairman Petr Necas voiced radical opposition to the EU Constitution and said the party should explain its drawbacks to the public and recommend that people do not vote for it in a national referendum. The party's shadow foreign minister Jan Zahradil, said that the Civic Democrats did not want a federation of European states but a flexible structure in which countries could integrate according to their needs.
The Communist Party also planned its strategy for the months ahead at a meeting of its central committee this weekend. Opinion surveys suggest that the party would come second in elections if they were held today. Party leader Miroslav Grebenicek is advocating a change of style and rhetoric, which would attract more voters. He told the gathering that the party should make a point of distancing itself from the past and condemning the crimes committed in the 50s and in 1968. In advocating this new policy line, Miroslav Grebenicek has partly yielded to the party's reform faction headed by Jiri Dolejs and Miroslav Ransdorf. He made no mention though of wanting to change the party's name.
The country's main opposition party, the right wing Civic Democrats overwhelmingly re-elected Mirek Topolanek party leader at a national conference over the weekend. In a rousing speech to the assembly Topolanek vowed to lead the party to victory in the next parliamentary elections, in June of 2006. With the Civic Democrats far ahead in the polls and having scored decisive victories in the Senate, regional and European elections, Topolanek is a strong candidate for prime minister. He was recently voted one of the country's most popular politicians.
Meanwhile, the head of the ruling Social Democratic Party Stanislav Gross attempted to rally the weakened and divided party for a crucial confrontation with their main rivals in the remaining 18 months to elections. At a meeting of the party's executive leadership, Gross unveiled an eight-point plan which should help the Social Democrats to regain lost ground and restore public trust. Stanislav Gross strongly emphasized his party's pro-EU policy, warning Czechs that the right wing Civic Democrats would plunge the country into political isolation.