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 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.
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.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus swore in 44 new judges at Prague Castle on Tuesday. The judges will be working in district, regional and town courts across the country. According to the Justice Ministry, there were 2,696 active judges in the Czech Republic at the start of the year. Over 100 are currently on maternity leave and the ministry hopes to see the number of active judges rise to 3,054 by the end of the year to focus on improving procedures criticised by the Czech people and international organisations. While President Klaus said in January that several verdicts are inconsistent the European Human Rights Court has pointed out that courts are much slower in the Czech Republic than in other similar European states.
The Brno-based tractor manufacturer Zetor announced on Tuesday, it plans to increase production to reach a yearly output of 10,000 units within two to three years. Zetor, which is now owned by the Slovak company HTC Holding, after it was bought from the Czech state two years, used to be a thriving manufacturer under Communist Czechoslovakia in the 1980s, when it exported tens of thousands of tractors to Africa and Asia. Today, its key markets are Poland, Britain, and the United States.
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