Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has revealed the name of the person who
guaranteed a six million crown loan for his wife's company. Speaking on a
political talk-show on Czech Television, Mr. Gross admitted that the loan
had been guaranteed by a friend of the family, Libuse Barkova, who has
since been charged with insurance fraud. The Prime Minister said that Mrs.
Barkova was not being prosecuted at the time when she helped his wife to
acquire the loan.
The Prime Minister, who has been under growing pressure to resign in the wake of a scandal over his private finances, said he had no intention of doing so. He reiterated that he would undergo security screening to clear his name and that an inspection team would look into his wife's company finances.
The Czech Republic is ready to send more police instructors to Iraq, at the request of the Iraqi government. Defence minister Karel Kuhnl said another three to five military instructors could be added to the 100 member contingent of Czech military police now operating at the Shaiba military base in the south of the country. Parliament would not need to approve the reinforcement of the Czech mission since the total number of soldiers would not exceed the limit approved by Parliament in January.
A charity concert in aid of south-east Asia has raised over six million crowns. The money will be used to buy medical equipment and supplies for a mobile children's hospital in Sri Lanka which is run by Czech paediatricians. The hospital was set up shortly after the tsunami disaster and is expected to remain in operation for a period of six months. The concert was organized at the initiative of several Czech artists who were in the region at the time of the tragedy. The Czech public has contributed over 200 million crowns / 6.7 million euros/ in aid to the stricken region and another 200 million has been earmarked by the Czech government for reconstruction.
Twenty six people were injured in a pile up on the Prague-Brno highway on Saturday, two of them seriously. Rain and fog caused a pile up of 40 vehicles bringing traffic to a standstill for over ten hours. The accident happened when a car collided with a coach, creating a domino effect along a 4 kilometre stretch of the road. Eleven lorries, a tanker four coaches and an ambulance were involved in the pile up. Ten ambulances were called to the scene of the accident. Preliminary damage estimates are at around 5 million crowns.
The right wing opposition Civic Democrats would win a landslide victory if general elections were held today. Polls suggest that the party has retained a strong lead over all others on the Czech political scene. Voter preferences suggest that the Civic Democrats would capture 32 percent of the vote, the Communists would get 15 percent, the ruling Social Democrats 14,5 percent while the Christian Democrats would come fourth with around 10 percent of the vote. No other party would win enough votes to acquire seats in Parliament.
Doctors report a flu epidemic in seven of the Czech Republic's fourteen regions. Elsewhere there is a heightened incidence of the flu and viral infections and doctors fear that the wave of milder weather will only make things worse. People have been advised to avoid crowded places and increase their intake of vitamin C. Children and elderly people are considered particularly vulnerable. Flu epidemics have been reported from a number of European countries over the past few days.
Fifty three percent of Czechs would like to vote on the EU Constitution in a referendum, according to an opinion poll commissioned by the daily Lidove Noviny. Close to 50 percent of respondents said they would like the referendum to be held within the framework of the parliamentary elections in 2006. Sixty percent of Czechs said they were ready to go to the polls. One third of respondents said they would prefer for Parliament to ratify the EU Constitution.
The Czech Republic's ice hockey team won its match against Finland at the Swedish Games in Stockholm. The Czechs won 3:2 in an extended game, with Jaroslav Bednar scoring the winning goal in the 63rd minute. The Swedish Games are part of the four-nation Euro Hockey Tour, in which the Czech Republic is ranked third.
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Czech wage rises continue apace, low earners seeing larger increases