Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has sacked Trade and Industry Minister Jiri Rusnok, two days after the coalition government won a vote of confidence in parliament. Mr Spidla said in a statement that he would propose Mr Rusnok's dismissal to President Vaclav Klaus, who must formally approve the decision. A government spokeswoman said Mr Rusnok's removal had nothing to do with the rebellion of several dozen coalition deputies in the recent presidential election, which allowed Mr Klaus to win the post. Observers, however, say Mr Rusnok was a key ally of Mr Spidla's predecessor, Milos Zeman, and that the prime minister is sending a clear message to opponents in his Social Democrat party. Mr Rusnok is expected to be replaced by his party colleague Milan Urban.
The Interior Minister Stanislav Gross has said the Czech state is being blackmailed by an anonymous attacker. The blackmailer is asking a ransom of several million crowns, threatening to plant a bomb in a public place. A functional explosive was discovered on a railway bridge in Olomouc on Wednesday. Minister Gross said police had been investigating the case for the last few days but declined the threat was a terrorist attack. Mr Gross said, however, the case was serious.
President Vaclav Klaus and his predecessor Vaclav Havel have both sent telegrams of condolence to the Serbian government following Wednesday's assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. Mr Klaus said he was all the more shocked because he had known Mr Djindjic personally. Former President Havel said he was appalled by the killing.
A 33-year-old man who shot dead his doctor before turning the gun on himself has died in hospital from head injuries. The man tried to kill himself after shooting dead the 52-year-old orthopaedic surgeon outside his apartment in Prague on Wednesday morning. A police spokesman said the man apparently shot the surgeon because he was dissatisfied with the results of a hip operation.
A 22-year-old policeman has died after accidentally being shot by his colleague. The man died immediately after being shot at the Cercany police station near Benesov, south of Prague on Wednesday. The incident was not an isolated one. On Monday a Prague policeman was shot in the leg after lending a colleague his privately-owned pistol. Last May a policeman from Olomouc accidentally shot another officer in the ear while he was cleaning his gun.
Friday will be cloudy with snow showers in most parts of the country. Daytime temperatures are expected to range from 1 to 5 degrees Celsius.
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