The remains of around 4,000 world war two German soldiers are to be stored at a Czech military facility for two years, before being buried in a German cemetery in the town of Marianske Lazne. They were exhumed around the Czech Republic and have been lying in a disused factory for three years, after the German organisation behind the project ran out of funding.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has made an unusual challenge to Civic Democrats chief Mirek Topolanek. Mr Paroubek sent a letter written in archaic Czech to his rival, challenging him to a television "duel" before the elections. It was delivered by an old-fashioned horse and carriage. Mr Topolanek has accepted.
Senator Martin Mejstrik is again pushing for Good Friday to be made a state holiday in the Czech Republic. Currently a bill on the issue also includes the scrapping of the International Women's Day as a day of national significance. But Mr Mejstrik says if that issue is dealt with separately, making Good Friday a holiday would have a greater chance of being passed in the left-dominated Chamber of Deputies.
The Czech foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda, is refusing to appear before a German parliamentary committee to answer questions about allegations that secret CIA planes stopped over in Prague. MP Max Stadler of Germany's Free Democratic Party called on Mr Svoboda to discuss the matter in Berlin. But he said it was unthinkable for a minister of the sovereign Czech state to be questioned by German deputies. Amnesty International reported last week that over 20 CIA planes had landed in Prague, an allegation denied by both the Czech foreign and defence ministries.
The second biggest party in the governing coalition, the Christian Democrats, is in danger of not winning enough support to remain in the Chamber of Deputies. A poll by the SC&C agency suggests the party would receive only 4 percent of the vote, falling below the necessary 5-percent threshold. The Civic Democrats are expected to come first in general elections in June, followed by the Social Democrats. Polls suggest the Green Party, who have no MPs at the moment, are now supported by around ten percent of the electorate.
The European Democrats, one of the smaller parties running in the June general elections staged a demonstration outside the government's headquarters on Wednesday in protest of alleged political discrimination. The party's leader Jan Kasl slammed the Finance Ministry's decision not to pay the party a 12 million crown subsidy which it had a right to on the basis of its results in the municipal elections. Kasl said that withholding the money two months before the elections amounted to political discrimination.
The Czech interior and defence ministries claim they have no proof that CIA planes carrying suspected terrorists and war prisoners had made several stop-over landings at Prague's Ruzyne Airport. Interior ministry spokeswoman Radka Kovarikova, told the CTK news agency the ministry had received no information about such flights. The human rights watchdog Amnesty International alleged last week that CIA planes had made a total of twenty stopovers in the Czech capital in the last couple of years. There has been ongoing speculation in the world media that the CIA transported suspected terrorists to jails in countries where they could be tortured. Amnesty asked Czech government officials for an explanation, saying that the Czech Republic may have assisted the CIA in violating international law.
A new network of high speed trains should be in place in the Czech Republic by the year 2020, Hospodarske noviny reported on Wednesday. Under a plan due to be approved by the government, the purchase of land for the creation of new rail corridors should begin next year. Currently the country has just one high speed train, the Pendolino, which has been running between Prague and Ostrava since December.
Doctors are planning more protest actions against Health Minister David Rath. The minister's radical reforms have met with opposition from a considerable number of doctors, dentists and medical staff who claim that they are undermining the quality of medical care. Rath's opponents say he has failed to consult any of the planned reforms with specialists in the field. A week of protests is being planned for mid-May although it is not yet clear what form they will take.
Czech football authorities have called off two matches involving first division FC Brno after 17 players came down with a flu like infection and have been quarantined for five days. FC Brno, currently just above the relegation zone, were due to host the team below them, FK Chmel Blsany, on Wednesday night. The away game to Slavia Prague on Saturday has also been postponed.