The Czech Interior Ministry says there are no secret CIA facilities holding members of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group in the Czech Republic. Wednesday's edition of The Washington Post reports that the CIA's most important Al-Qaeda captives are questioned and held at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe. The Czech Interior Minister, Frantisek Bublan, says the Czech Republic is not the country in question. He added that one month ago, Prague declined a request from the US government to consider granting asylum to Guantanamo Bay detainees who were not linked to the Al-Qaeda and face persecution in their home countries.
Germany will most likely make use of the full seven years that it is entitled to restrict the movement of labour from the new EU member states. The Governor of the German state of Saxony, Georg Milbradt, told journalists in Prague on Wednesday that Germany's high unemployment rate and its lack of a plan dealing with the differences in salaries make it difficult to shorten the transition period.
Deputy Health Minister David Rath has confirmed a decision to step down as the head of the Czech Doctors' Association, an announcement made on a commercial radio station Tuesday morning. His decision will take effect on November 2nd. Until now, Mr Rath's position as head of the Doctors' Association has been a major hurdle preventing his being named health minister. President Klaus twice refused to name Mr Rath to the post, on the grounds his naming would be a clear conflict of interest.
People who have unresolved restitution claims to land or property have until the end of this year to file their claims. The opposition Civic Democrats on Tuesday failed to extend the restitution deadline by another four years, largely due to opposition from the Social Democrats and the Communists. The extension by four years was part of a proposed amendment to the law on land.
The first Czech on-line daily without a paper edition was launched on Tuesday. Aktualne.cz aspires to become a leader in the sector. Its founders believe that the initial investment of 35 million crowns /1.41 million dollars/ will be recouped within a year, with 90 percent of the magazine's revenues coming from advertising.
The lower house of Parliament has approved a series of tax cuts which will primarily benefit people whose monthly income is below 30 thousand crowns. The bill was approved unanimously, although the opposition Civic Democrats criticized the ruling coalition for not effecting tax cuts which would benefit higher income groups as well. Finance minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the measure would affect 90 percent of all tax payers and would reduce income into state coffers by an estimated ten billion crowns. Approximately four million people who make under 30 thousand crowns a month would save around four thousand crowns per year, higher income groups are expected to save less money. The bill has yet to be approved by the Senate.
The chairman of the Lower House Lubomir Zaoralek on Tuesday unveiled a deputies' Code of Ethics to the assembly but was challenged by senior members of the opposition Civic Democratic Party who said the move was an empty gesture and Zaoralek himself was untrustworthy. The proposed code is meant to set an ethical framework for relations between politicians and lobbyists, the acceptance of gifts by public figures and the practice of hiring family members as assistants. The Civic Democrats said they were willing to engage in a serious debate only if Mr. Zaoralek defended his own reputation first, apologized to the public for "his excessive use of government helicopters" and explained how he had hired his own assistants.
Senior officials from the ruling Social Democratic Party have called fugitive billionaire Radovan Krejcir a liar and coward for his claim that he had lent the party 60 million crowns (roughly 2.4 million US dollars) in return for a promise to help him obtain ownership of a state company. They also dared Mr Krejcir to file a libel suit in the Czech Republic. The Social Democrats have taken the view that Mr Krejcir aimed to intentionally harm their reputation, and coordinated their response. Krejcir who fled to the Seychelles in June is wanted for conspiracy to murder, extensive fraud and money forgery. Extradition efforts floundered after it became clear Mr Krejcir - and his family - had obtained citizenship in the Seychelles a few years ago.
A new poll has suggested that Czech assessment of the functioning of the
government and the Czech Parliament is at its highest since 2003. The
poll, conducted by the STEM agency, found that 43 percent of respondents
were satisfied with Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek's cabinet while some 36
percent assessed as positive the workings of Parliament. The last time the
Czech government enjoyed similar public support was in the year 2003 but
also the summer of 2002 when the Czech Republic was hit by widespread
The new STEM poll also gauged public support for the country's president, Vaclav Klaus: he was rated positively by some 72 percent of respondents.
The Czech Republic will - with minor exceptions - ban imports of exotic
birds from countries that are not EU members, to reduce the danger of
the spread of bird flu. The Czech Agriculture Minister Petr Zgarba said
on Monday that the measure was in harmony with a European Commission
directive. The ban concerns primarily commercial imports, while
individuals will be allowed to bring small number of birds - less than
five - into the country. All these imports will have to be made via
Prague's Ruzyne international airport. Birds will be kept in quarantine
for 30 days or have to be vaccinated or checked for the bird flu virus.
The import restrictions are expected to be kept in place for at least six months.