Police say they have detained two men who are suspected of attempting to bribe government coalition MP Zdenek Koristka ahead of a crucial vote in parliament. The men are Marek Dalik, an adviser to the head of the opposition Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek, and lobbyist Jan Vecerek. Last month, Mr Koristka told a leading Czech daily that an unnamed figure from the Civic Democrats had offered him the equivalent of 300,000 euros in exchange for a "no" vote in a confidence vote, which would have brought down the new government of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross. If found guilty, the two men detained on Thursday face one to five years in prison.
The Czech Republic is in favour of Germany, Japan and a representative of Africa, Asia and South America being given permanent places on the United Nations Security Council, the Czech Foreign Minister, Cyril Svoboda, said in a speech to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. He said the Czech Republic would itself like to have a seat on the Security Council in 2008 and 2009. Mr Svoboda also said no one could remain neutral in the fight against international terrorism, which, he said spared no one, anywhere in the world.
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel is one of 100 influential figures who have signed an open letter calling on European Union and NATO member states to change their approach to Russia, where they say President Vladimir Putin is using the Beslan school massacre as a pretext to undermining democracy in the country. Other signatories include former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt and political scientist Francis Fukuyama.
Cage beds may be used in social care institutions in cases where clients threaten their own health or the health of others, according to new rules approved by the government on Wednesday. The use of cage beds would also have to be registered under the regulations, which have yet to be discussed by parliament. Former health minister Josef Kubinyi banned cage beds in July, after criticism by Joanne Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books.
The Supreme Audit Office has criticised the manner in which the Defence Ministry spent NATO funds between 1999 and 2003. The Office pointed to inconsistencies, poor accounting and confusion in the Ministry's records in a report released on Wednesday. The Defence Ministry's right hand often did not know what its left hand was doing, said a spokesman for the Supreme Audit Office.
Jaroslav Svoboda of the Dallas Stars agreed on Monday to play for a Czech hockey team, raising to 173 the number of National Hockey League players set to compete in Europe during the NHL lockout. Svoboda, a forward, will play for Olomouc. One hundred and seventy three NHL players have agreed to play for Euroean teams during the lockout; the Czech league will have nearly 50 NHL players, including Jaromir Jagr of the New York Rangers.
Some 300 people demonstrated on the main square of the Czech border town of Cheb on Tuesday against the supposed "Germanisation" of the Czech Republic and its loss of sovereignty. The Club of Czech Demonstrators (KCP) was protesting against what members see as excessive German ownership of formerly fully Czech-owned businesses.
A 22-year-old university student fell to his death from the window of his seventh-floor dormitory room in Plzen during the early hours of Tuesday morning. The young man's roommates told police they had gone to bed Monday night without incident. The students had been drinking and initial information points to an unfortunate accident rather than suicide or foul play.
Czech senator Petr Pithart was made a knight of France's "Legion of Honour" on Tuesday. The ceremony, presided over by Christian Poncelet, the president of the French senate, took place at the historic Czech embassy in Paris. The embassy officially reopens Tuesday night after two years of reconstruction. Poncelet praised Pithart as a former dissident who remained engaged in politics by working to further European integration. He also praised Pithart for supporting the French position during the lead-up to the war in Iraq. Other Czechs in the Legion of Honour include former Czechoslovak presidents Tomas Garrigue Masaryk and Vaclav Havel, as well as the writer Milan Kundera and director Milos Forman.
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