A flu epidemic has hit the northern parts of the Czech Republic. Hospitals in the towns of Liberec and Jablonec are closed to visitors and doctors have warned people to avoid crowded places. Other parts of the Czech Republic report a high incidence of viral infections. Children and elderly people are considered particularly vulnerable. Thanks to the half-term holidays there is no need to close down schools and doctors hope that the cold weather will prevent a further spread of the flu epidemic.
The Czech financial group PPF, together with Slovakia's J and T and Inway, has placed the highest bid in a tender for the state's 51% stake in the telecommunications operator Telecom, according to an unnamed source close to the commission assessing the bids. Under the conditions of the tender, financial groups were not allowed to bid alone but had to team up with telecom operators. The source said five bidders had placed bids, some of them offering more than 69 billion crowns -around 3 billion US dollars for the majority share in Telecom. The ministerial commission which assessed the bids on Monday has recommended that the Cabinet should consider all five offers. The government has retained the option of selling the shares on financial markets if no direct sale has been agreed by the end of March.
The deputy director of the Prague police Zdenek Janicek has committed suicide. According to the CTK press agency Janicek hanged himself in the cellar of his home. It is not yet clear what motivated his actions. The Interior Ministry has refused to comment on the case and the police have placed an embargo on further information, pending the outcome of an investigation. Janicek was deputy director for criminal investigations. A high placed police officer, who requested anonymity said he had spoken to him recently and could not see any possible motive.
Michal Kraus was elected chairman of the deputies' group of the ruling Social Democrats on Monday, when he won the third round of a secret ballot. He replaces Petr Ibl who resigned from the post in January after the Prime Minister criticized the group's performance. Michal Kraus is known to be a staunch ally of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross.
Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has said he will undergo security screening to clarify his financial circumstances. In the past few weeks Mr. Gross has been under mounting pressure to explain how he paid for his luxury flat in Prague but has so far failed to do so in a satisfactory manner. The matter is to be discussed in Parliament on Thursday, where opposition deputies are preparing to grill the Prime Minister regarding the origin of the money with which he bought his luxury home. The opposition Civic Democrats say that unless the Prime Minister can provide a satisfactory answer he should resign from office. A petition demanding Mr. Gross' resignation appeared on the Internet on Monday.
The Czech men's tennis number one, Jiri Novak, beat South African Wesley Moody in Saturday's semi-finals of the Millennium International Tennis Championships at Delray Beach, Florida. He will meet third-seeded Xavier Malisse of Belgium in the tournament's final on Sunday. It is Novak's first tournament of the season; the 29-year-old took January off to spend time with his family.
The vice-chairperson of the lower house, Miroslava Nemcova of the
opposition Civic Democrats, has said that the Prime Minister Stanislav
Gross should clarify the origin of the money he used to pay for his luxury
flat in Prague. Speaking in a televised debate on Sunday, Ms Nemcova said
her party will demand that the matter be discussed as an extraordinary
item on the agenda of a forthcoming parliament session. Ms Nemcova said
the controversy surrounding the purchase of the prime minister's flat was
casting a bad light on the whole country.
Recently the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes discovered that Mr Gross's flat cost more than he had officially earned. The controversy surrounding the purchase took a new turn on Friday when former journalist Rostislav Rod said he had lent almost one million Czech crowns to Mr Gross's uncle, who in turn lent some of the money to the prime minister. The daily Mlada Fronta Dnes says this is a third explanation the public have been given by Mr Gross's family since the controversy broke out.
The Prime Minister and acting head of the Social Democrats Stanislav Gross has been nominated for the post of party chairman by the Central Bohemian branch of the party. So far Mr Gross has received eleven nominations from regional branches while his challenger Labour and Social Affairs Minister, Zdenek Skromach, has received only one. The Social Democrat Party will elect its new chairman at a national congress in March.
Czech officials have refused to reveal details about the companies that had submitted preliminary offers for the state's 51.1 percent stake in the telecommunications company Cesky Telecom. The deadline for submitting non-binding offers passed on Thursday. Six European telecommunications companies - France Telecom, Belgacom, Swisscom, Telefonica, TDC and Vodafone - as well as four financial groups had shown interest in taking control of Cesky Telecom. Denmark's TDC, however, announced that it had decided to pull out of the tender.
Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has said he won't comment further on how he financed the purchase of his luxury apartment in Prague. Recently the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes found out Mr Gross's flat cost more than he had officially earned. The controversy surrounding the purchase took a new turn on Friday when former journalist Rostislav Rod said he had lent money to Mr Gross's uncle, who in turn lent some of it to the prime minister. The daily Mlada Fronta Dnes says this is a third explanation the public have been given by Mr Gross's family since the controversy broke out.
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