On Tuesday officials in Azerbaijan blocked its citizen Saday Nazarov from departing for Prague from Baku's airport, even though Mr Nazarov enjoys political asylum in the Czech Republic and has a valid refugee passport. Mr Nazarov, a former government advisor in his home country, was first detained in Azerbaijan in January - charged with "high treason". He had travelled to his homeland to visit his father, who was seriously ill. Mr Nazarov's return to the Czech Republic was expected Tuesday when it was planned he would meet with Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda. The Foreign Ministry has expressed hope that his case will now be resolved and that Azerbaijani officials will allow Mr Nazarov to return to Prague in one day's time.
Footballer Milan Baros has been named to the line-up for Wednesday's Champions League semi-final which will see Baros' Liverpool face off against Chelsea. Liverpool is considered the underdog in the match-up, but could benefit from the Czech striker's speed. Baros had been doubtful for the match after receiving a minor knee injury in a league game at the weekend.
Police in the west Bohemian region of Cheb have admitted for the first time that cases of child prostitution in the area are more widespread than previously revealed. Detective Jiri Istavnik told public broadcaster Czech TV that police in the area had investigated 7 cases of sexual abuse of minors by visiting tourists since 1997. Police also cited 60 cases in which youths' moral upbringing had been put under threat. Last week the subject of child prostitution again made headlines after a German television reporter from Pro 7 taped secret footage of a 12-year-old girl being offered for sexual favours. Until now police in Cheb had denied child prostitution in the area had gone beyond the isolated case.
The respected Czech science fiction author Josef Nesvadba has died at
the age of 78. Mr Nesvadba's family made the announcement on Tuesday
without disclosing further details. Josef Nesvadba's death comes as a
blow to the Czech sci-fi literature scene which he so influenced in the
1960s and 1980s, continuing in the philosophical footsteps of Czech
writers like Karel Capek and Jiri Weiss. His many works include
"Einstein's Brain" and "Hell Benes" (2002) - his final book.
In 2003 Mr Nesvadba was a key guest at the annual Prague Writer's Festival, where he debated the nature of speculative fiction with colleague and fellow sci-fi writer Ondrej Neff.
Social Democrat MP Jan Kavan has told Czech Radio he knows of "around" five Social Democrat members of parliament who may choose not to support the new government led by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek. The government must face a confidence vote within 30 days. Mr Kavan told Czech Radio that he and colleague Vladimir Lastuvka would vote in favour of the new government if the Social Democrats were allowed a greater hand in foreign policy. But currently the Foreign Ministry falls under the jurisdiction of the Christian Democrats. The new prime minister, aware of Mr Kavan's and the other MPs' reservations, reminded them that if the current government fell it would lead only to early elections.
Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has revealed that the Czech government may try and sell North Bohemia's Severoceske doly brown-coal mine after it completes the privatisation of Vitkovice Steel and Karlovy Vary's Thermal Hotel. Mr Sobotka, however, suggested that - on the whole - large privatisation deals in this election term were over. Since 2002 the Social Democrat-led government sold oil and chemicals group Unipetrol as well as the fixed-line giant Cesky Telecom. Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Mr Sobotka rejected speculation over the privatisation of power producer CEZ, Czech Airlines and the Czech Post, saying such sales were unrealistic and would not even be "kicked-off" at this time.
President Vaclav Klaus said on Monday after naming Jiri Paroubek to his new post that he expects the lower house of Parliament to hold a vote of confidence on the new government as soon as possible. The incoming prime minister has said that his government - as per agreement of the three coalition parties - will focus on pushing through pension reform, lower taxes on employees, new bankruptcy and conflict-of-interest laws, and the 2006 state budget. Another top priority is the ratification of the draft European Constitution.
President Vaclav Klaus accepted the resignation of Stanislav Gross as
Prime Minister on Monday, ending weeks of political crisis. The Cabinet
was also dissolved, as is required by the Constitution, when a prime
minister resigns. Before tendering his official resignation, Mr Gross'
party, the Social Democrats, and their coalition partners, the Christian
Democrats and the Freedom Union, signed a deal for a new government. The
incoming prime minister is Jiri Paroubek, a vice chairman of the Social
Democratic party who was the Regional Development Minister in the previous
Stanislav Gross, a former interior minister, had led the government since last July; he remains Social Democrat party chairman. Calls for Mr Gross' resignation came after media coverage revealed that he had spent more to buy his Prague apartment than he could have afforded on a government salary. Mr Gross had offered several, contradictory explanations of how he had paid for the apartment. The controversial business dealings of his wife had also become a political issue.
Outgoing Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has said he will set all personal ambitions aside in order to help the Social Democratic Party prepare for national elections next year. On Sunday Mr Gross suggested the Social Democrats needed to come up with an attractive, perhaps new, list of candidates. The outgoing prime minister made the comments on a popular news talk show. During the broadcast Mr Gross rejected any suggestion he might step down as chairman of the Social Democrats, saying that he wanted his party to unite. In his words holding an extraordinary party congress now would be political "suicide".
Liverpool footballer Milan Baros looks doubtful to start in the
upcoming semi-final Champions League match: on Wednesday his side faces
off against London's Chelsea. Baros may miss the first-leg showdown
after he suffered a knee-injury in the English Premiership at the
weekend. He limped off in the 37th minute in a rough-and-tumble match
against Crystal Palace.
Afterwards, Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez defended Baros by indicating the striker had been the target of particularly physical play.
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