The four young men who were behind Friday’s attack against Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolánek have turned themselves in to the police and are now being questioned. News of the development was confirmed by a police spokeswoman on Monday after appearing on TV Nova’s news website. Police on the case said earlier they had information suggesting the attack against the Civic Democrat leader may have been ordered.
The incident happened last Friday as Mr. Topolánek was holding an out-door election rally in Hustopeče, south Moravia. Four young men threw stones at him from a distance before jumping into a car with a Prague number plate and driving away. Mr. Topolánek was seen to be bleeding from a cut above his right eye but reports say he was only lightly injured. His Civic Democratic Party has filed a criminal complaint against an unknown perpetrator.
Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek has called on the rival Civic Democrats to sign a joint memorandum in which the parties would pledge to conduct a decent campaign ahead of the October early general elections. Mr. Paroubek made the call in reaction to the stone-throwing incident in which his main rival Mirek Topolánek was lightly injured. He said both parties should urge their supporters to refrain from any show of violence. Jiří Paroubek himself was the target of a highly coordinated egg-throwing camapaign ahead of the European elections.
The Christian Democrats have unveiled an election programme that promises to improve the social standing of families with children. The manifesto includes tax reforms which would introduce higher taxes for the rich and steep tax deductions for families with one or more children. People with three or four children would be exempted from paying taxes altogether. On the other hand childless taxpayers would pay more within the principle of solidarity.
The party, the second biggest in the last coalition government, has always advocated family values but has never gone so far in favouring families with children. Political analysts put it down to the party’s poor showing in popularity ratings ahead of October’s general elections.
The State Attorney has withdrawn embezzlement charges against three former top executives of the Czech Football Association. The association’s former chairman Pavel Mokrý, Deputy-Chairman Václav Chvála and former Deputy Minister of Education and Sports Ladislav Malý were detained by the police in July over controversial accounting surrounding ticket sales for the Euro 2004 championships in Portugal. The police said that Football Trading, the association’s marketing agent, had received 50 million crowns from selling tickets for Czech team games in Portugal five years ago. Allegedly, only 20 million appeared in the company's accounting books, and there was no trace of the remaining 30 million crowns. The State Attorney is said to have withdrawn the charges due to inadequate evidence and has called for further investigation.
David Vaculík who was involved in one of the worst cases of racist violence in recent years, is a regular sponsor of the far-right Workers Party, the daily Lidove Noviny wrote on Monday. Police are investigating possible links with the far-right party after journalists produced footage showing Vaculik and the leader of the Workers Party Tomas Vandas together at far-right marches. Mr. Vandas has condemned the arson attack which left a two-year-old critically injured and claims his party had nothing to do with it. Interior Minister Martin Pecina is taking steps to try and get the Workers’ Party banned.
The weekly Respekt claims that the recent expulsion of two Russian diplomats from Prague was allegedly the culmination of a several months’ long effort to break up Russia’s highly-organized network of agents operating in NATO member states. According to Respekt, which has not revealed its sources, NATO’s “defense operation” was launched last September following the arrest of Estonian officer Herman Simm on suspicion of espionage for Russia. During questioning Simm allegedly provided information about an extensive network of Russian spies operating in various NATO member states. A number of Russian agents were expelled from Britain and Poland in 2008.
The Czech Republic has come under criticism from the Transport Committee of the British House of Commons for putting unsafe trucks on British roads. According to a report commissioned by the committee Czechs are the worst offenders with 60 percent of Czech-registered Heavy Goods Vehicle trucks failing roadworthiness tests. Polish and Hungarian vehicles failed more than 50 percent of safety checks, while German and Italian lorries were found to have serious safety flaws in 40 percent of cases.
The state-run national carrier Czech Airlines (ČSA) posted a loss of 1.83 billion crowns in the first half of 2009, the internet news website iDnes.cz reported, citing from a report which the company will make public at a press conference on Wednesday. The loss is more than 0.5 billion higher than anticipated. For the full year, ČSA expects a loss of around 2 billion crowns. The loss is being attributed to a fall in passenger numbers by one-tenth and an overall decline in plane ticket prices resulting from fierce competition. ČSA did not want to comment of the results. The airline is undergoing privatization, the state having offered its entire 91.5 percent stake in the airline. Two companies had reached the second stage of privatization but last week Air France-KLM, Europe’s biggest airline, withdrew its bid leaving just one Czech bidder –Unimex Group in the running. A final decision is expected by September 30.
Czech tennis player Ivo Minář turned in a positive drugs test ahead of July’s Davis Cup match against Argentina. The news was confirmed on Monday by the chairman of the Czech Tennis Association and team coach Jaroslav Navrátil. According to the International Tennis Federation the forbidden substance was a derivate of pseudoefedrin which Minář claims may have come from his weight-loss pills. The news has dashed his chances of taking part in September’s Davis Cup match in Croatia, but should not alter the outcome of the quarter finals in Argentina since there he only played one match and lost.
The next few days are expected to be warm and sunny with day temperatures reaching 30 degrees Celsius.