The chairman of the opposition Communist Party, Miroslav Grebenicek, has decided to step down from his post. In a statement for the CTK news agency, Mr Grebenicek said his staying at the head of the party would be pointless, stating the party's programme orientation as the main reason of his move. A spokesperson for the Communist Party said that until October 1 when his case will be discussed by the Central Committee, Mr Grebenicek will not talk to the media. The 58-year old Miroslav Grebenicek has been chairman of the Communist Party since 1993.
President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed an amendment to a law banning the transformation of hospitals owned by regions into business companies. The amendment will now go back to the lower house which is expected to override the president's veto as the two parties which pushed it through, the Social Democrats and the Communists, have a comfortable majority in the chamber. The Health Minister, Social Democrat Milada Emmerova, says she wants to prevent the transformation of hospitals as she believes they would no longer provide a full range of health care but concentrate instead on more profitable branches of medicine.
The leader of the Social Democrats, former prime minister Stanislav Gross has rejected the statements of some Polish MPs who link the Unipetrol corruption scandal with the controversy surrounding the purchase of Mr Gross's Prague apartment. Stanislav Gross denied the allegations saying the sale of Unipetrol to the Polish company PKN Orlen was approved by the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla last year whereas Mr Gross bought his flat in 1999. Some Czech media suggest that the privatisation of the oil and chemicals group Unipetrol might have been manipulated and bribes amounting to hundreds of millions of crowns were involved.
One of the two smaller parties in the ruling coalition, the Christian Democrats, have said they will not support the removal from office of the Supreme State Attorney Marie Benesova proposed by the Justice Minister Pavel Nemec of the Freedom Union. The Christian Democrats say they are convinced that politicians must not influence decisions in criminal cases. Relations between Ms Benesova and Mr Nemec have been tense for several months because of certain criminal cases and the crisis culminated a few days ago when Minister Nemec launched disciplinary proceedings against the Supreme State Attorney.
Customs officers have discovered an illegal distillery in the north Moravian city of Ostrava. On the premises of a former distillery, they found 750,000 empty bottles and 400,000 bottles filled with spirits, thousands of litres of flavouring agents and millions of labels and barcodes. The amount of consumption tax evaded has been estimated at 21 million crowns (under a million US dollars).
The weather in the Czech Republic should remain partly cloudy in the coming days with daytime temperatures hovering around 22 degrees Celsius.
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