Czech police have completed the investigation of alleged corruption concerning the privatisation of oil and chemicals concern Unipetrol, in which a former head of the prime minister's office, Zdenek Dolezal, was accused of trying to bribe a Polish lobbyist. The amount: five million crowns. The incident was recorded by hidden camera and broadcast by commercial broadcaster TV Nova, triggering the scandal. Police have not yet decided whether to recommend Mr Dolezal be prosecuted. If he is - and is found guilty - he could face up to 12 years in prison.
Zoologist and former director of the Prague Zoo Zdenek Veselovsky has died at the age of 78. The former director was often credited with helping transform the Prague Zoo into an important European institution. He headed the facility from 1959 to 1988 and also authored dozens of books popularising nature and the natural sciences.
The Civic Democrat MP David Seich has admitted to drinking and driving. The member of Parliament was stopped late at night by police this week after driving the wrong way on a one-way street. A breathalyser revealed a high alcohol level, but the MP refused a blood test and has said he had only one drink.. The MP apologised to the media and the public, saying he was giving up Parliamentary immunity in favour of a police investigation. He called his actions "a mistake" and said he would accept the consequences.
Prague Civic Democrats have agreed with the Green Party that the new city council will not be bound by an official coalition agreement. After consulting with the Greens, the right-of-centre party will now draw up conditions for cooperation on the municipal level. It is proposed that the new city council - which is made up of 11 councillors including the mayor - will include nine Civic Democrats, one Green Party member, and one member of the centre-right European Democrats. Voting on the council will take place at the end of November. The new council will the see the end of an eight-year coalition with the Social Democrats at the municipal level, after the Civic Democrats won an outright majority in Prague in the recent local elections.
The Czech airline CSA has said it has given up plans to buy new
long-haul aircraft and might even sell its current four Airbus 310
planes. Earlier, the carrier had sounded out both Boeing of the United
States and Europe's Airbus about the purchase of new aircraft. But, a
spokeswoman said on Friday intentions had changed. CSA,
majority-owned by the state, will decide whether to sell its existing four Airbus aircraft by next summer. The planes are currently used on scheduled routes to New York, Toronto, Montreal and Dubai, as well as on charter flights. Their sale will not necessarily mean that CSA will abandon its long haul routes. The carrier can decide to lease long haul planes instead.
This year the airline expects to post a full-year loss of around 500 million crowns (the equivalent of around 23 million dollars). It is hoping to return to profit in 2008 following major restructuring.
Police have reportedly arrested a man being described as the main heroin supplier for the city of Ostrava in eastern Moravia. The suspect is believed to have trafficked heroin to the area for the last two years. The suspect was arrested with 130 grams of the drug on his person. The amount is worth around 500,000 crowns - the equivalent of more than 23,000 US dollars. Police monitored the suspect over the period of several months. Recent statistics suggest there are some 18,000 - 20,000 drug users in Ostrava, the hardest drugs including heroin and a local methamphetamine known as pervetin.
A new poll released by the STEM agency has suggested that a majority of
Czechs are dissatisfied with the continuing political deadlock.
According to the poll, only sixteen percent of respondents said they
were happy with performance by the government as well as Parliament.
Another poll, conducted by CVVM, showed the number even lower: at just
The highest satisfaction with the government in recent years came in 2002 - shortly after the country was hit by catastrophic floods; the lowest was then during the leadership of former Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, who faced allegations of irregularities in his personal finances.
Czech Foreign Minister Alexandr Vondra received a special "ambassador"
on Thursday - a barrel of beer. The barrel, delivered by a horse-drawn
carriage from the country's brewing capital, Pilsen, was given the red
carpet treatment at the foreign ministry. Signed by Czech President,
Vaclav Klaus, sporting personalities and citizens from the West Czech
city, the "ambassador at large" will be dispatched on a special mission
to Brussels next Tuesday to help the Czech Republic fight an EU
proposal to increase excise taxes on beer.
EU finance ministers are due to debate the issue with the Finnish EU Presidency trying to win backing for a compromise proposal that can be swallowed by Europe's traditional beer drinking giants, such as the Czech Republic and Germany.
The Civic Democrats are to start talks with the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Green Party on forming a four-party coalition government with a mandate until early elections in May or June 2008. Prime Minister designate Mirek Topolanek announced the plan after a meeting with representatives of the Greens on Thursday. Mr Topolanek said he was going to inform President Vaclav Klaus on Monday about the outcome of the talks. Next week will be devoted to negotiations about the government's programme. PM Topolanek also said a four-party cabinet is unlikely to be able to push through thorough reforms and that is why, he said, early elections should be held in eighteen months time.
The Christian Democrats have said they are prepared to join a cabinet of four non-communist parties which would lead the country to early elections in 2008. The Green Party, the fourth partner in the project, have also approved the plan. The coalition would have 174 votes in the 200-member lower house. The Communists would be the only opposition party.