The chairman of the ruling Social Democratic Party Stanislav Gross has resigned from his post. Mr. Gross, who resigned as prime minister in April amidst a scandal over his private finances, made the announcement shortly after the party voted that his successor Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek should lead the Social Democrats to the 2006 general elections. Stanislav Gross's popularity plummeted in the wake of the financing scandal and he said his resignation should help the party's prosperity.
Private physicians have announced they will go on a one day strike in protest of the poor payment morale of some health insurance companies, in particular the leading insurance company VZP. Payments allegedly arrive three to six months after they are due and physicians say the constant delays are endangering their livelihood. The one day strike is to take place sometime within the next fortnight and on the given day emergency medical care should be provided by hospital wards.
Czech director Bohdan Slama's film "Something like Happiness" won the best film Golden Shell award at the San-Sebastian film festival in Spain. The film, seen as a surprise choice for the main prize, is the story of a group of neighbours living in an industrial corner of a small Czech town. Czech actress Ana Geislerova picked up a Silver Shell award for best actress.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has accepted the role of election leader and said that Stanislav Gross's resignation was "a call to action" for the party, which trails the opposition Civic Democrats by more than ten percentage points in public opinion polls. In a rousing speech to the party leadership Jiri Paroubek said he was determined to lead the Social Democrats to a third election victory. He strongly criticized the party's coalition partners - the Christian Democrats - for allegedly undermining the work of the governing coalition and openly flirting with the opposition Civic Democrats. The Prime Minister said that if the Christian Democrats and the Civic Democrats wanted to cooperate they should propose early elections and he would readily accept the challenge.
Communist Party leader Miroslav Grebenicek on Friday confirmed his
decision to resign as party chairman. Grebenicek, 58, has headed the
party for 12 years. He said earlier he had decided to resign over party
A new party chairman is expected to be elected on October 1st at a meeting of the party's executive committee. Deputy chairman Vojtech Filip is a hot candidate for the post.
No Czech citizens were involved in the preparation of a terrorist attack which the Czech counter-intelligence service, the BIS, helped thwart in the past months, a spokesman for the BIS has said. The counter-intelligence service received the first signals that Arab-looking persons living in Spain were greatly interested in buying weapons in the Czech Republic in the summer of 2004. The information proved reliable and the suspects were later detained. The planned attack, thwarted in a joint Czech-Spanish operation, was not to be carried out in the Czech Republic.
Czech midfielder Karel Poborsky will join second division Ceske Budejovice on loan after being kicked out of Sparta Prague's squad. The 33-year-old Poborsky remains a Sparta player without any changes to his contract but will join Budejovice for three months, the club said on Friday. Poborsky is a co-owner of Budejovice, which was his first club. He stepped down as Sparta team captain on Wednesday and was thrown out of the squad after criticising coach Jaroslav Hrebik, who had put him on the bench for the last two league games. Poborsky and Sparta have agreed to resume talks after January 1. Poborsky, who has played for Lazio, Benfica and Manchester United, is the most capped Czech player in history.
The lower house has once again approved a bill banning the transformation of hospitals into commercial entities. The chamber overrode the president's veto on Friday and once again approved an amendment banning such transformations. Opponents of the amendment say it is in breach of the constitution. The Health Minister, Social Democrat Milada Emmerova, says she wants to prevent the transformation of hospitals as she believes they would no longer provide a full range of health care but concentrate instead on more profitable branches of medicine.
Some 2.9 million foreign tourists visited the Czech Republic in the first six months of 2005, the CzechTourism agency has said. Compared to the same period last year, the number increased by more than eight percent. The capital Prague, the Karlovy Vary region and the South Moravian region saw the most visitors, with Prague taking a 60-percent share in Czech incoming tourism.
Around 1,500 police, stuntmen and emergency service workers were involved in a counter-terrorism exercise in Prague and the town of Kralupy nad Vltavou early on Friday. Simulated bombs exploded in the carriage of a train at a metro station in the centre of Prague and in a train in the town of Kralupy around 1 am on Friday. Police also sealed off a Prague train station after discovering a suspicious bag and arrested an alleged 'terrorist' at the station. The two-million-crown (82,000-dollar) exercise, sparked by the July attacks in London, was watched by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan. The interior ministry said the objective of the exercise was to test emergency rescue plans and the preparedness of Prague's metro system to cope with such a situation.
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