A group of anti-communists including former president Vaclav Havel have called on Czechs to go to the polls in ten days' time. They say many people who did not vote in the 2002 elections would have voted for somebody other than the Communists, and an increased turnout could mean fewer seats for the party, who are currently third in the opinion polls. Mr Havel and a number of other personalities will appear in a series of photographs with their heads wrapped in barbed wire.
Meanwhile, the director of the German film Good Bye Lenin! says he does not understand why the right-wing Civic Democrats have used the movie in their election campaign. Wolfgang Becker said in a statement that the party's PR people could only regard the comedy as a warning against the dangers of communism if they were in a coma when they watched it.
The Czech international football goalkeeper Petr Cech has passed his maturita school leaving exam. The 24-year-old got a "one" in Czech, English and Social Science and a "two" in German in the exam, which took place at the Sportovni gymnazium in his home town of Plzen. Immediately afterwards he returned to Seefeld in Austria, where he is preparing for the World Cup with the Czech squad.
Neither the governing Social Democrats nor the opposition Civic Democrats have a clear position on the possible building of a United States anti-missile site in the Czech Republic, Lidove noviny reported. Social Democrat Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said he knew nothing about the project and would have to learn more about it. By contrast, Poland - the other candidate to host the site - has shown interest in further negotiations with US officials. The New York Times wrote on Monday that Czech parties were trying to avoid debate on the issue because of the upcoming elections.
A cinema in Jirkov, north Bohemia is refusing to show the hit film The Da Vinci Code. Manager Milos Kubelka told the newspaper Deniky Bohemia he was a Christian and said The Da Vinci Code undermined the values this country's democracy was founded on. Both the film and the novel it is based on have been slammed by Roman Catholic groups.
A bill aimed at increasing state support for the Czech film industry has been thrown out. The Chamber of Deputies had previously approved it, but on Tuesday failed to overturn a veto by President Vaclav Klaus. Under the bill cinemas, TV stations and video and DVD distributors would have had to contribute three percent of their sales to the state cinematography fund. The Czech Republic's stand at the Cannes film festival closed on Wednesday in protest at the bill's failure.
Social Democrat and Communist deputies also joined forces on Tuesday to override a presidential veto of a bill on non-profit hospitals. The bill, part of health minister David Rath's extensive reform of the health sector, is opposed by thousands of health workers, who say it is part of a plan to nationalise hospitals. In a desperate attempt to persuade deputies not to vote for the bill, representatives of smaller hospitals forwarded a petition with 230,000 signatures to lower house deputies before the vote was held. The influential Trade Union of Physicians, on the other hand, supports the law, saying it will guarantee affordable hospital care to all.
The number of people in the Czech Republic paying social security is growing faster than the number of pensioners, the Czech Social Security Office says. At the end of March, there were around 110,000 more social security payers than five years ago; the number of pensioners, on the other hand, had only risen by 47,000.
The Government Commissioner for Human Rights, Svatopluk Karasek, has said the Czech Republic is aware of human rights violations criticised in Amnesty International's annual report. The human rights organisation criticises the Czech Republic on numerous fronts - the country discriminates against the Roma, uses controversial caged and netted beds to restrain people in mental institutions, and fails to stop police officers from abusing their authority. Mr Karasek says the Czech Republic has already been taking steps to improve the situation.