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New cabinet should be clear by Thursday: Paroubek

The politician chosen to replace Stanislav Gross as Czech prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, says the composition of his cabinet should be clear by Thursday at the latest. Mr Paroubek, a deputy chairman of the Social Democrats and currently minister for regional development, says he does not expect many ministerial changes. Representatives of his party, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union met on Wednesday to discuss their continued co-operation in government.

The coalition formed by the three parties after elections in 2002 broke down recently, after Mr Gross and his wife became embroiled in a scandal concerning their personal finances. The prime minister is expected to resign formally after a meeting of senior Social Democrats on Saturday

President Vaclav Klaus said on Wednesday he would not react to the latest developments until Mr Gross showed him a signed coalition agreement and tendered his resignation.

Klaus's arguments against EU Constitution untrue, says vice-president of European Parliament

The vice-president of the European Parliament, Alejo Vidal-Quadras Roca, has strongly criticised President Klaus's opposition to the European Constitution. The Spanish politician said Mr Klaus's arguments were prejudiced, misleading and untrue. He said Mr Klaus was the only head of state in Europe against the constitution, and it would be a pity if his euro-skepticism led the Czech Republic to isolation.

ODS deny internal studying showing voter loss over policy towards EU Constitution

Meanwhile, Mr Klaus's party the Civic Democrats have denied reports that their opposition to the European Constitution has led to a drop in support for the party. Tuesday's edition of Lidove noviny reported that a study commissioned by the Civic Democrats found that three to five percent of potential supporters had been put off by their policy on the constitution. Senior party figures said, however, that no such study existed.

Prison terms for two after group of youths kill woman, 81

Two people have received prison sentences for their part in the brutal killing of an 81-year-old woman near Hradec Kralove last year. Vladimir Gina, aged 34, was handed a 14-year sentence for driving a group of teenage boys to the woman's house, while a 16-year-old youth received a seven-year term. Five other youths - two of them Mr Gina's sons - also took part in the killing, but were below the age of criminal responsibility.

No increase in sentence for former Foreign Ministry man Srba

A Prague court has refused to increase an eight-year sentence handed down to former Foreign Ministry general secretary Karel Srba for ordering the murder of a journalist. The supreme state attorney had appealed the sentence, saying it was too low. Mr Srba was found guilty of planning the killing of journalist Sabina Snobkova, who had written about alleged corruption at the Foreign Ministry. A police investigation into those charges is continuing.

Roman Catholic churches flying Vatican flags in honour of Pope Benedict XVI

The Czech Roman Catholic church has called for churches around the country to fly the Vatican flag between Wednesday and Sunday in honour of the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI. However, due to a shortage of yellow and white Vatican flags, Czech church leaders have asked their colleagues in Slovakia to send some as soon as possible.

Pravo: Thousands of fake Harry Potter books sold in Czech Republic

The Czech publisher of the Harry Potter children's books says 10,000 fake copies of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire have been sold in the Czech Republic, the daily Pravo reported on Wednesday. Official publishers Albatros accuse the company Ottovo of being behind the fakes; a police source said the latter had invoiced bookshops for a non-existent book called Goblet of Fire. Over 800,000 Harry Potter books have been sold in the Czech Republic.

Czech footballers ranked second in world

The Czech Republic's football team have risen from fourth to second in the rankings of the sport's world governing body FIFA. Recent victories in World Cup qualifying games against Finland and Andorra lifted the Czechs to their highest position in six years. World Cup-holders Brazil are ranked number one.


It should be cloudy over the next few days, with rain in places. Temperatures are expected to reach 9 or 10 degrees Celsius.