The results of two opinion polls released on Thursday suggest the Civic Democrats would get the most votes in the Czech Republic's first ever elections to the European Parliament in the middle of June. The Communists would come second, according to the polls by the STEM and TNS Factum agencies. The largest party in the governing coalition, the Social Democrats, would finish third, the polls found.
The cabinet has approved a package of measures aimed at fighting corruption. They include a tougher conflict of interest law, allowing undercover agents to offer bribes and greater transparency in banking transactions. The measures - agreed on Wednesday evening - must now be approved in parliament. Meanwhile, the opposition Civic Democrats have described the measures as inadequate.
A Prague tram burnt out on Wednesday evening, the second tram in the city to go on fire in the space of just two days. Nobody was injured in the latest fire, which broke out on the number 8 tram on Milada Horakova Street in Prague 7. An investigator said the fires might have something to do reconstruction work on the capital's tram system.
Meanwhile, the Freedom Union, which one of the polls suggested would receive only 1.1 percent of the vote, suffered another blow on Thursday with the resignation of Senator Robert Kolar from the party. Mr Kolar, who had been a critic of the Freedom Union for some time, said he would join either the Civic Democrats' or the Christian Democrats' group in the upper house.
The government has decided to revoke the licences of Czech companies selling an advanced radar system to China. At a meeting on Thursday the cabinet said selling the Czech-made Vera radar system to China was not in the Czech Republic's foreign policy interests. A decision earlier this year to grant licences to export the radar system to China met with criticism from the United States and some Czech politicians; Vera is a passive surveillance system and the successor to the Tamara system, which is said to be able to detect US stealth aircraft.
Around 4,000 people die in the Czech Republic every year due to combining inappropriate medicines, a spokesman for the Czech Medical Chamber said on Thursday. Lubomir Chudoby said that only around a half of people suffering from chronic illnesses use medicines correctly, adding that the consumption of medicines in general was on the increase in this country.
The Czech Republic is preparing to send six army doctors and nurses to Iraq, where they will reinforce medical staff at the Shaiba base near Basra. The move comes in response to a British request. Czech army doctors and nurses worked in Basra till the end of 2003 when the 7th field hospital ended its operation in southern Iraq and was replaced by a team of 80 military police officers. The medical team should be ready to depart in June.
Several members of the Czech parliament's health committee have been warning Health Minister Jozef Kubinyi not to make personnel changes without a clear concept for a new health reform plan. In the month that Mr Kubinyi has been in the post of health minister, he has sacked the head of the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine, put pressure onto the director of the country's biggest health insurer, Vseobecna Zdravotni Pojistovna, to step down, and has fired his deputy Jaroslav Civin.
Petr Johana scored six minutes from full time to give Sparta Prague a 2-1 win against league champions Ostrava in the Czech-Moravian Cup final on Tuesday. Jan Rezek also scored for the Prague side in the first ever cup final between teams placed first and second in the Czech league. It was Sparta's first cup win since 1996, and their 15th overall including results from the former Czechoslovakia. Ostrava, who trailed 1-0 until Mario Licka's 56th minute shot drew his team level, won the league title by five points over Sparta, who had won the title in 10 of the previous 11 seasons. Ostrava had been looking to become the first club to win a Cup-League double since Sparta accomplished the feat in 1989.
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