The deputy chairman of the Social Democrats Zdenek Skromach has said that university professor Jan Sokol is the only presidential candidate now being discussed by the three parties in the governing coalition. Mr Skromach said he did not expect hundred percent support from the junior coalition partners, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union, adding that a handful of Social Democrat MPs had not yet decided on whom to vote for in the upcoming election. However, Minister Skromach said he believed that politicians had learnt a lesson from the two previous inconclusive attempts to elect a Czech president, in which Social Democrat candidates, former Justice Minister Jaroslav Bures and former party chairman and Prime Minister Milos Zeman failed in the first round.
The chairman of the opposition Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek has said his party is not discussing possible support for their presidential candidate Vaclav Klaus with the Communists Party. Mr Topolanek also said the two unsuccessful attempts to elect a new president were not a failure of deputies and senators. According to him, the underlying cause was the method of elections to the lower house, which does not make it possible to form a strong government and subsequently to elect a president.
The Central Crisis Committee has decided to increase border control and protection of water sources and reservoirs. The committee has also decided to tighten security at Prague's international airport. Next week forty soldiers from the rapid response unit will be deployed at the airport. Interior Minister Stanislav Gross told journalists that intelligence services had no specific information about a possible terrorist strike and that the measures had only pre-emptive character.
Former communist secret police investigator Alois Grebenicek, accused of torturing prisoners in the late 1940s and early 1950s, will stand trial on February 24. Mr Grebenicek, aged 81, has not yet once appeared in the court - citing health reasons - although the court proceedings have lasted for five years. Alois Grebenicek, who is the father of Communist Party chairman Miroslav Grebenicek, has been charged with torturing political prisoners in his hometown of Uherske Hradiste. He faces up to eight years in prison for inflicting bodily harm.
The Transport Authority in Prague has said the remaining stretch of the B-line of Prague metro will return to operation on Monday. At the same time, the replacement tram service will be discontinued. Trains will run the full length of the B-line but they will not stop at four stations which have yet to be renovated. All repairs in the metro system should be completed by the end of March, more than seven months after it was damaged by devastating floods. The overall costs of the renovation are estimated at 7 billion crowns.
A strong gust of wind is said to have been the cause of the sudden breakdown of a ski lift that stranded about 140 skiers in their open-air chairs on Thursday morning at a ski resort in Spindleruv Mlyn in North Bohemia. All skiers were safely rescued by noon by some fifty fire-fighters, mountain crews, and lift workers who used ladders and a helicopter. Authorities say the lift halted automatically when an empty chair swung in strong wind and struck a pole.
Saturday is expected to be bright and sunny with daytime temperatures ranging from minus 3 to plus 1 degree Celsius. Sunday should be cloudy with isolated snow showers. Daytime temperatures on Sunday are expected to range from minus 5 to minus 1 degree Celsius.
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