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Foreign Minister: Yasser Arafat played big role in Palestine's history

The Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has said the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has played a big role in the history of Palestine and that he will be greatly missed by the Palestinian people. Mr Svoboda added that the Nobel Peace Prize winner can be regarded as a controversial figure because he was connected with the complex issue of the Middle East conflict. The foreign minister will attend Mr Arafat's funeral in Cairo on Friday. In the 1970s and 1980s communist Czechoslovakia provided political and financial support to the Palestine Liberation Organisation, as well as arms and military training. Mr Arafat visited communist Czechoslovakia on ten occasions.

Senate discusses absentee ballots for Czechs living abroad

The upper house of the Czech Parliament, the Senate, is discussing an amendment to the election law which should enable Czechs living abroad to take part in elections to the lower house of parliament by sending absentee ballots. The amendment would also concern Czech citizens living in the Czech Republic. According to estimates, there are between 250.000 and 300.000 Czechs living outside the Czech Republic.

CEZ to buy 3 Bulgarian power distribution companies

The Bulgarian government has approved a draft privatisation contract for the sale of three power distribution companies to the Czech power utility CEZ. The Czech power producer is supposed to pay over 280 million euros for a 67-percent stake in the distribution companies in the capital Sofia, the city of Pleven and in the Sofia region. The head of CEZ, Martin Roman, said the purchase was a milestone in the development of CEZ and the Czech energy industry. He said it was the first step to becoming a leader on the Central and Eastern European electricity market.

Poll: Czechs want reform of health care and social sector

A poll carried out by the Stem agency suggests that most Czechs want the government to immediately start a fundamental reform of the health care and social areas. In the poll, about 60 percent of respondents voiced the view that the cabinet would finally have to resort to deep cuts in the health care and social areas. Although several health ministers have submitted their ideas of the reform, none of them has been accepted. The current Health Minister Milada Emmerova wants to present her draft reform at the beginning of next week.

Football federation official steps down after match fixing scandal

The vice president of the Czech Republic's football federation, Milan Brabec, stood down on Thursday after being heavily implicated in a match fixing scandal that has rocked Czech football. However, he denied any wrongdoing. Mr Brabec's position became untenable after police taped telephone conversations between him and Ivan Hornik, the former manager of the club Viktoria Zizkov. Mr Brabec, the then head of the federation's referee commission, and Mr Hornik were heard arranging referees for matches involving the club in a bid to fix results during the 2003/2004 first division season. The match fixing scandal in the Czech Republic erupted in May when police charged Jaroslav Hastik, the sporting director of FC Synot, with trying to bribe match officials. Around 30 referees were then charged with attempting to fix matches as a result of evidence from phone tapping by the police.


Friday is going to be a partly cloudy day with occasional rain. Daytime temperatures should range from 5 to 8 degrees Celsius.