The English football club Everton are reportedly ready to offer Liverpool £6 million pounds for Czech striker Milan Baros. Aston Villa have already had a £5 million pound offer for Baros rejected, while West Ham confirmed an interest in the Czech Republic international last week. Meanwhile, West Ham have signed on the Czech Under-21 striker Petr Mikolanda, who plays for Viktoria Zizkov in Prague.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has responded to critics of Saturday's police action to shut down the annual CzechTek rave party in a front page editorial published in the daily Lidove Noviny on Tuesday. In justifying the police action to shut down the techno party, which took place in a field in West Bohemia, Mr Paroubek wrote that the participants were not innocent "dancing children" but rather "people with anarchist proclivities and international links." He said they were known to "provoke massive violent demonstrations, fuelled by alcohol and drugs, against the peaceful society" throughout Europe.
The foreign ministry has released some grim statistics on the number of Czech holidaymakers to have died abroad this year: a record sixty-six Czechs in total. Most died in traffic accidents. There were 13 deaths in neighbouring Slovakia, and 11 in Croatia, where some 800,000 Czechs will spend their summer holiday this year. The first Czech victim of terrorism died last month in an explosion in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el Sheikh.
A family friend of former prime minister Stanislav Gross has been sentenced to five years in prison for insurance fraud. The Prague City Court ruled on Tuesday that businesswoman Libuse Barkova had made false property damage claims in 2001 and 2002, which netted her several hundred thousand dollars. Ms Barkova, who has also been investigated for tax evasion, immediately appealed Tuesday's verdict. She first came to national attention in 2003 when her conversations with Interior Minister Gross and a Defence Minister were caught up in a police wiretap, and it was revealed that Ms Barkova owned a building housing a brothel. Stanislav Gross resigned as prime minister this spring in part because of questions about his wife's business dealings with Ms Barkova.
In related news, former president Vaclav Havel, who appeared at a rally on Monday to lend his support to the CzechTek partygoers, has offered to act as a mediator between the government and the rave's organisers. Police announced on Tuesday that 10 people have been charged in relation to Saturday's events, most with assaulting a public official. At least two private citizens have filed complaints against the police. Meanwhile, according to a lightning poll conducted for the daily Mlada fronta Dnes, seven out of ten Czechs believe that the police action to shut down CzechTek was 'too severe'. The Czech police used tear gas, stun grenades, batons and water cannons to disperse the CzechTek crowds, whom the government says were trespassing on private property.
After protesting in the thousands in front of the Interior Ministry on Sunday, dozens of protestors met again in front of the ministry on Monday afternoon, carrying placards criticising police action at CzechTek. Protestors are continuing blame the prime minister and the interior minister for what they see as unjustified police intervention at the weekend. An additional demonstration has been planned for Wednesday.
A decision by Czech police to break-up a techno music festival in Mlynec,
west Bohemia, at the weekend has continued to draw political fire - from
both the opposition and some members of the government. On Saturday around
1,000 police in riot gear forcibly broke up the techno party - attended by
some 5,000 visitors - at the request of landowners who claimed visitors
had damaged their property. Police clashed with dozens of partygoers,
using tear gas and water cannons - leading to score of minor injuries on
both sides. Around 20 people required medical attention.
Although the Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan defended police steps as "necessary", others, including the country's president, Vaclav Klaus, have criticised the move, with the president saying that the use tear gas and water cannons was "inexcusable". Mr Klaus called the move a "gross blunder" and has already said he will call on the country's prime minister for an explanation.
Others, including opposition MP for the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, Ivan Langer, called Saturday's use of force "unprecedented" - in his view evocative of police brutality in former Czechoslovakia preceding the fall of Communism in 1989.
In related news, the Justice Minister Pavel Nemec, too, has asked Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan for a detailed report on police operations at CzechTek - saying that the media had raised some doubt on steps taken by police. Mr Nemec also said that the State Attorney's Office had not given instructions to the police on how to proceed - contrary to statements made by the prime minister and Mr Bublan at the weekend.
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