Czech right wing Petr Sykora signed a one-year National Hockey League contract to play for the Edmonton Oilers next season. Splitting last season between Anaheim and the New York Rangers, Sykora had a total of 23 goals and 28 assists in 74 games last season. The 2002 Czech Olympian scored 18 goals as a rookie with New Jersey in the 1995-1996 season and has surpassed 20 goals in each of the past seven seasons.
Czech political leaders have made a breakthrough in talks on the formation
of a new government, breaking a two months long deadlock. An agreement
reached on Friday envisages the election of Social Democrat Miloslav Vlcek
to the post speaker of parliament on a temporary basis, the resignation of
the old cabinet and the appointment of a prime minister designate, all
within a matter of days.
All parliamentary parties have agreed to the plan, although the centre
right parties have said they need guarantees from MP Vlcek that his
mandate would be temporary and that he would resign under precisely
Meanwhile, the Social Democratic Party has agreed to support a minority Civic Democratic Party government which would include both politicians and experts. The Social Democrats themselves would go into the opposition, and if all goes according to plan, party leader Jiri Paroubek would eventually become speaker of the lower house.
The leadership of the Social Democratic party has urged party members to take an active part in a discussion on the possible stationing of a US missile base on Czech territory. Party leader Jiri Paroubek said he wanted this issue to be one of the focal points of the party's campaign in local elections coming up in the autumn. The Social Democrats have been pushing for a national referendum on the US missile base to be part of an agreement with the Civic Democrats. Washington has not yet decided whether to locate the base in the Czech Republic or Poland, but the Czech foreign minister has indicated that some kind of offer will almost certainly be made. The only opinion survey available on the subject suggests that 82 percent of Czechs do not want a US missile base in the Czech Republic.
European decathlon champion Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic retained his title at the European championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, thanks to impressive performances in the long jump, high jump and 110m hurdles. The reigning Olympic champion and double world silver medallist finished on a season's best of 8,526 points after dominating the field in the 10 disciplines of the gruelling two-day event. He finished a massive 170pts ahead of Hungary's Attila Zsivoczky (8,356pts) in silver. Russian Aleksey Drozdov (8,350pts) took bronze.
Civic Democratic party leader Mirek Topolanek, who looks set to be the country's next prime minister, is now putting together a new cabinet. Ten of the cabinet seats should go to party members the remaining six will be filled by unaffiliated experts. A senior Civic Democratic Party official said the party was aiming to include two or three women in its cabinet set up. The choice of unaffiliated party experts will be consulted with the Social Democrats.
The Czech tennis player Tomas Berdych has caused a major upset by defeating world number two Rafael Nadal of Spain at the Toronto Masters. Berdych, who is 20, beat Nadal 6-1 3-6 6-2 in the third round of the competition. The Czech's previous biggest scalp was world number one Roger Federer, who he defeated at the Athens Olympics two years ago.
Prague's Ruzyne international airport has stepped up security following
the news on Thursday of thwarted terrorist attacks that were to have
targeted US bound planes from Britain. The additional security measures
concern primarily flights bound for Great Britain and the US, and are
in effect. Passport and security clearance have been tightened and
passengers are no longer allowed to take liquids or gels on board. A
spokeswoman for the airport recommended that anyone travelling to
either Great Britain or the US arrive well in advance of boarding - at
least two hours before take off.
A number of flights from Prague to London were cancelled on Thursday as London's Heathrow airport closed to traffic. Also on Thursday: Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek met with the heads of Czech Intelligence and requested the activation of a special team which will monitor the situation and coordinate security measures. The Czech Intelligence Service has issued a statement saying there is no direct threat to the Czech Republic at present.
The police anti-corruption unit has detained six suspects in a nine-year-old case of suspected fraud involving 1.2 billion crowns - around 55 million US dollars. The CTK news agency has reported it was told by an unnamed source that police have reason to believe the fraud - the illegal siphoning-off of assets from CS Fondy - was masterminded by Pavel Tykac and Jan Dienstl, the former heads of the now defunct Motoinvest financial company. Along with the two, four others have been detained for questioning. A spokeswoman for the state attorney's office has said that police may request some of the suspects be remanded in custody.
The Czech competition office has issued a record fine of 370 million crowns, the equivalent of around 17 million US dollars, on gas importer and distributor RWE Transgas for abusing its dominant position on the market. The fine is the biggest imposed on a single company by the Czech competition watchdog. According to the office, RWE Transgas discriminated in its gas supply contracts between regional gas distributors which belonged to the company and those which did not. The competition office found that the company, also banned its distribution companies from selling natural gas outside their territory, cutting competition on the market and charged excessive prices for storage of natural gas during 2005. Previously, the highest fine issued to a single company was given to the fixed-line giant Cesky Telecom, which had to pay a fine of 205 million crowns.
Following a day of talks between President Vaclav Klaus and the heads of
the five parliamentary parties, leaders appear to have reached a deal
solving the first step in the political deadlock that ensued following
June's national election. Until now, MPs had not been able to agree on a
candidate for speaker of the lower house, blocking the political process,
and preventing the president from naming anyone prime minister.
The candidate to serve temporarily as speaker is Social Democrat MP Miroslav Vlcek. If he is elected on Monday, President Vaclav Klaus will then appoint Mirek Topolanek whose party, the right-of-centre Civic Democrats won June's election, prime minister.
Mr Topolanek's party has been negotiating support for a minority government this week among the Social Democrats. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said on Friday that if his party's candidate is elected, his government will likely hand in its resignation on Tuesday. Mr Paroubek also confirmed that he would replace interim speaker Vlcek in the post if Mr Topolanek heads the new government.
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