Russian democracy is young and fragile, but there is no evidence to claim that it is heading for dictatorship, the Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, said in reaction to the letter in which 100 influential figures called on heads of state and government leaders of EU and NATO member states to question the policies of the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The signatories from Europe and the United States, including the former Czech president Vaclav Havel, said earlier this week that they fear that the measures Mr Putin had taken after the Beslan tragedy threaten to undermine democratic developments in Russia.
The Czech Republic is in favour of Germany, Japan and a representative of Africa, Asia and South America being given permanent places on the United Nations Security Council, the Czech Foreign Minister, Cyril Svoboda, said in a speech to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. He said the Czech Republic would itself like to have a seat on the Security Council in 2008 and 2009. Mr Svoboda also said no one could remain neutral in the fight against international terrorism, which, he said spared no one, anywhere in the world.
Police say they have detained two men who are suspected of attempting to bribe government coalition MP Zdenek Koristka ahead of a crucial vote in parliament. The men are Marek Dalik, an adviser to the head of the opposition Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek, and lobbyist Jan Vecerek. Last month, Mr Koristka told a leading Czech daily that an unnamed figure from the Civic Democrats had offered him the equivalent of 300,000 euros in exchange for a "no" vote in a confidence vote, which would have brought down the new government of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross. If found guilty, the two men detained on Thursday face one to five years in prison.
In related news, Civic Democrats leader Mirek Topolanek has said the police have been bugging his telephone since he was elected to the post in December 2002. In an interview in Thursday's edition of Mlada fronta Dnes, he says the bugging has been 'legalised' since an investigation began into allegations by Mr Koristka. Mr Topolanek also says the Interior Ministry and the police are trying to damage his party.
A 24-year-old Czech citizen has been given a life sentence in Germany for the murder of a 17-year-old German youth in March 2001. The court in the city of Hof found the Czech guilty of killing his young German acquaintance with seven gunshots in the Bavarian village of Geroldsgruen. The sentenced man is the fifth Czech to receive a life sentence abroad since 2000.
Friday should be partly cloudy with occasional showers in East Bohemia. Daytime temperatures are expected to range from 15 to 18 degrees Celsius.
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