Parliament on Wednesday approved a bill which will substantially increase the salaries of police officers, customs officers and fire fighters. As of January 2005 people in these professions will receive an average 32,000 crowns (around 1,000 euros) per month. The bill was strongly opposed by the Christian Democrats and the opposition Civic Democrats who argued that it would raise mandatory expenditures to an unacceptable level. The head of Parliament's budget committee, Miroslav Kalousek, failed in his attempt to get the pay increase postponed by two years.
Police President Jiri Kolar has dismissed the statement by regional state attorney Zlatuse Andelova who said on Tuesday that the arrest of two men suspected of trying to bribe MP Zdenek Koristka was unlawful. Two close associates of opposition Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek were dramatically arrested two weeks ago on charges of a corruption attempt but were later released. The regional state attorney Zlatuse Andelova also cast doubt on the lie-detector test that MP Koristka passed, saying that some of the results were not clear. Following Ms Andelova's statement, the Civic Democratic Party called on Police President Jiri Kolar and Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan to resign.
The Czech defence ministry plans to reorganise its special forces into one unit to make their operations more efficient, a ministry spokesman said on Wednesday. The special forces teams were formed in reaction to the September 11 attacks in the US and include a biochemical detection and reaction unit, a hospital team for patients affected by biological weapons and units operating the Vera passive monitoring radar system. The biochemical unit was called on by NATO to help protect the summer Olympics in Athens from a terrorist attack. The Czech army is currently undergoing a major reform aimed at making it fully professional.
The colleagues of a Slovak humanitarian worker kidnapped in southern Russia have asked Czech President Vaclav Klaus to put pressure on his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to help free her. Twenty-eight-year old Miriam Jevikova is believed to have been kidnapped in June as she finished a one-week assignment for a Prague-based refugee aid organisation in the Stavropol region and planned to travel to Ingushetia. With no word on Ms Jevikova for months, her organisation contacted President Klaus's office to appeal to him to ask Mr Putin to intervene.
The Constitutional Court has abolished a by-law issued by the local authorities in the West Bohemian town of Cheb banning alcohol consumption on the streets. The Constitutional Court found there was not sufficient legal backing for such a regulation and it did not clearly state which public places it concerned. The by-law issued last summer has never come into effect as the Interior Ministry suspended it immediately.
Thursday should be partly cloudy with occasional rain across the country. Daytime temperatures are expected to range from 12 to 15 degrees Celsius.
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