A new party, called the Independent Democrats, has been founded in Prague, former Social Democrat MP Jana Volfova announced on Thursday and said its manifesto was put together by MEP Vladimir Zelezny, the former CEO of the successful commercial TV Nova. Mr Zelezny who is not a member of the Independent Democrats said the manifesto will be released in late July or early August after it is approved by the party conference. Mr Zelezny also said the party will mainly focus on the defence of Czech national interests and it will also address EU-related issues.
The Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek who is on an official visit to East Asia, has met Japanese Emperor Akihito in Tokyo. After the meeting on Thursday, Mr Paroubek said they spoke about Prague, culture, music, issues related to global warming and also about the former Czech president Vaclav Havel. Mr Havel was host to Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko who visited Prague in July 2002. Prime Minister Paroubek started an eight-day visit to Asia in Tokyo on Wednesday, he is due to visit China next.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) which represents the recording industry worldwide has included the Czech Republic among a group of 31 countries where more counterfeit CDs than original ones are sold. According to the federation the situation in the Czech Republic is getting worse. The IFPI did not disclose the source of its data.
The chief executive of Cesky Telecom, Gabriel Berdar, credited with transforming the company, has been replaced as Telefonica of Spain has acquired the business. An annual meeting of Cesky Telecom shareholders on Thursday replaced Mr Berdar with Jaime Smith Basterra, chief financial officer at Telefonica, as well as nine out of fifteen members on the company's supervisory board. Last week, Telefonica paid 82.6 billion crowns (3.36 billion dollars) for the government's 51.1-percent stake in the Czech Republic's dominant land line operator.
The Czech Statistics Office has released new statistics which show that the number of divorces in the Czech Republic has increased by a third over the 15 years since the fall of communism. According to statistics, marriages in the Czech Republic most often break up between their third and sixth year. Statisticians predict the Czech Republic's divorce rate should stabilise this year at just below 50 percent. In the first three months of 2005 almost 5,500 couples were married in the Czech Republic which is by 250 fewer than in the same period of last year.
A faction within the ruling Social Democrats, called the Platform for the Renaissance of the Social Democratic Party, has announced its plan to call an extraordinary party conference to deal with personnel changes at the party head, the election manifesto, next year's general election campaign and a change in the party statutes. The faction said on Thursday that the continued chairmanship of Stanislav Gross markedly decreased the party's chance for a good result in next year's elections. A spokesman for the platform said it supports Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, party deputy chairman, who since taking office last month has been able to reverse the plummeting voter support for the party.
Elton John entertained over 10,000 fans at Prague's Sazka Arena on Tuesday night. It was the British singer's first concert in the Czech capital since 1984. Accompanied by a five-piece band and a small gospel choir, Sir Elton played many of his biggest hits, including Candle in the Wind and Your Song.
The lower house of the Czech parliament has agreed to introduce a point-system to clamp down on negligent drivers. Drivers gain points for every violation and upon the accumulation of twelve demerit points, the driver's licence is taken away. If approved by the Senate and signed by the president, the point-system takes effect in mid-2006. A similar system was introduced by the Czechoslovak government in 1951 but was abolished two years later.
Czech scientists, on Wednesday, tried to recover a signal from the US-Russian Cosmos 1, the world's first solar sail-powered spacecraft. According to the Russian Space Agency, the spacecraft crashed back to earth when the engine of its booster rocket failed minutes after takeoff from the Barents Sea on Tuesday. But weak signals received by tracking stations in the Pacific Ocean, Russia and the Czech Republic seemed to show it had made it into orbit.
The Constitutional Court has ruled against a lower house approval of an amendment to the conflict-of-interest law. The amendment, which came into effect in March, has been under much criticism mainly because it prohibits councillors from heading regional or district organisations and has thereby forced several to resign from their posts. The amendment also changes local election rules, which according to the Constitutional Court can only be approved by both houses of parliament. Since it made it through parliament only because the lower house overrode the Senate, the court says the amendment has been approved unlawfully.
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