The results of a poll conducted by the Median agency suggest that the centre-right Civic Democrats have been badly hit by the corruption and spying scandal that brought down the former government. If general elections were held today, the opposition Social Democrats would get 34 percent of the vote, followed by the Communist Party with 18,5 percent, and TOP 09 with 15 percent. The Civic Democrats would place fourth with a mere 13 percent of the vote. The only other party to cross the five percent margin needed to win seats in the lower house would be the Christian Democrats with 5.5 percent.
The authorities in the west Bohemian town of Pilsen are taking steps to diffuse growing ethnic tension in the city, following a wave of complaints against the local Romany minority. The city council and the local police have agreed on a number of measures including an increased police presence in problem areas, more surveillance cameras in the streets and Romany mediators in places where conflicts have escalated. City hall officials say the problems are exacerbated by developments in Ceske Budejovice, south Bohemia, where a conflict on a playground between Romany and non-Romas parents triggered protests and street violence for several weekends in a row.
President Miloš Zeman has met with Olomouc High State Attorney Ivo Ištvan to publicly voice support for his crusade against corruption. Mr. Ištvan is supervising the high profile case of alleged spying and corruption that brought down the centre-right government of former prime minister Petr Nečas. Thursday’s meeting between the president and high state attorney came in the wake of an angry statement from the former prime minister who accused state attorneys of “harassing politicians and trying to run the country”. President Zeman assured Mr. Ištan that he had his full support in conducting a thorough and independent investigation into the affair.
Police chased a speeding driver from Cheb all the way to Karlovy Vary early on Thursday. The driver eventually crashed on the outskirts of Karlovy Vary after the police fired several warning shots in a last-ditch attempt to prevent him driving into the town at full speed. The driver was found to be under the influence of drugs and even after the accident restarted his car and rammed it into the police vehicle. Both he and an officer suffered light injuries.
Police investigating a murder attempt against fugitive Czech businessman Radovan Krejčír suspect the attack may be linked to the Cape Town movie industry, according to The Star newspaper. Krejčír narrowly escaped death from a battery-operated, remote-controlled automatic weapon built into a parked car. A source close to the investigation told the paper that the attack could also be linked to Krejčír’s dealings with Cape Town gangsters over territory. The source indicated that Krejčír had allegedly met with one of Cape Town’s most notorious members of the underworld in an attempt to iron out their differences. Krejčír himself has refused to comment.
The ministries of foreign affairs and trade have signed an agreement on cooperation in promoting the country’s business interests. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said after the signing ceremony in Prague on Thursday that the agreement would end years of rivalry in this field and mark a new era in promoting Czech interests abroad. He promised better service both for Czech exporters and for potential foreign investors in the Czech Republic. Trade Minister Jiri Cienciala, welcomed the deal saying the trade ministry had handpicked 44 business experts who would be sent to Czech embassies around the world.
The UN Human Rights’ Committee has asked the Czech government to close down a pig farm located on the site of a former Nazi concentration camp for Romanies. The pig farm at Lety, in south Bohemia was built on the site of the camp by the communist regime in the 1970s and has been a source of embarrassment to post 1989-governments. Although the issue has sparked heated controversy the matter has not been resolved on the argument that buying the farm from its present owners and removing or relocating it would be too costly. More than 1,300 Romanies were held prisoner in the camp between 1942 and 1943. Over 300 Romanies died there, others were transported to Nazi extermination camps.
The first-ever Czech quintuplets, born in June, are reported to be doing well and may be released from hospital in early August, according to the family’s spokesperson. All five babies now weigh over two kilos each and have overcome the health problems connected with a premature birth. Although the babies’ birth generated enormous interest, their twenty-three-year old mother Alexandra wants as little publicity as possible for fear of envy and anti-Roma prejudice.
President Miloš Zeman is expected to sign several dozen decrees confirming appointments to ambassadorial posts. According to Hynek Kmoníček, head of the foreign department at Prague Castle, the president is expected to sign twenty to thirty decrees of nominees who have already been approved by the host country. The process of naming new ambassadors was stalled for several months after President Zeman and the former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg failed to agree on several names, deadlocking the process. It is now expected that President Zeman will push through his nominee Vladimir Remek as the country’s new ambassador to Moscow and ex-president Klaus’ wife Livia as the new ambassador to Slovakia.
The meeting between the president and the Olomouc high state attorney elicited a sharp response from TOP 09 deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek who said he considered it proof that the high state attorney was not acting impartially and independently. Mr. Kalousek said the meeting clearly indicated a link between the police operation that brought down the centre-right government and the political changes that President Zeman was trying to implement.
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