Czech president Vaclav Klaus has come out with strong words against the current coalition government: in an interview for the daily Pravo, published Saturday, the president criticised the cabinet as being, in his view, "incapable of dealing with long-term problems" or presenting a "clear conceptual approach". The Czech president also criticised government ministers for being invisible to the public. The latest interview is hardly the first time Mr Klaus has criticised the government: the president also had strong words following a government crisis earlier in the year that led to the resignation of former prime minister Vladimir Spidla, replaced by Stanislav Gross.
Police in the town of Liberec are investigating an incident on Friday evening in which an unidentified man publicly doused himself in gasoline before setting himself alight. The incident took place in an area between the town's courthouse and local prison. Rescue workers who arrived at the scene were unable to save the man who died shortly after, having suffering burns on 100 percent of his body. The case of self-immolation is the 2nd in Liberec this year.
Members from two of the three government parties have - for the most part - rejected the president's view. On Saturday Social Democrat deputy chairman Zdenek Skromach said he believed the government of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross would manage to govern until the next election in 2006, and ruled out a shift to minority rule. Freedom Union deputy chairman Frantisek Pelc, also commented, largely rejecting the president's words. At the same time he did concede he felt there was some truth to the president's criticism of the government's health care reform, which the president had said lacked "strategic focus".
Czech Post is putting up the price of services and stamps from February; for instance it will cost 7.5 crowns to send a letter within the Czech Republic, up 1 crown from the current price. The company said the increases would boost both sales and net profits. "Ceska posta" posted net profits of 700 million crowns last year.
Terezin has failed to obtain European Union funding to start building a university and cultural centre on the site of the town's former garrison and World War II ghetto, a spokesman said on Friday. He said the main reason the grant application was denied was the fact the buildings have yet to be transferred from Ministry of Defence ownership to the local authorities. But the defence minister, Karel Kuhnl, has said negotiations on the transfer will begin in the New Year.
An accident in which five soldiers died when their military vehicle was hit by a train at a level crossing in south Moravia was probably caused by the Army driver, police said on Friday. They said the driver probably failed to notice the on-coming train, although an investigation into the tragedy is continuing. Eight other people were injured in Thursday's crash, which was the worst of its kind in the Czech Republic in some years.
The Czech power utility CEZ has agreed to pay compensation to the French company Dalkia after it pulled out of an agreement in 2000 that would have seen the companies set up of a joint-venture to operate in the Czech Republic. Dalkia had filed for arbitration in Paris earlier this year, estimating the damages at almost 19 million euros. A CEZ spokesman has said that the compensation offered was one third lower than that amount, but did not name the exact figure. He also said that the two companies also signed an agreement officially terminating the dispute.