Representatives of a Polish prosecutor's office have met their Czech colleagues in Prague to discuss cooperation in the investigation into alleged corruption in the privatisation of the Czech petrochemical company Unipetrol, the Prague City State Attorney's Office said. According to unofficial information, the Polish prosecutors will also want to interrogate leading Czech politicians, including Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and ex-prime minister Stanislav Gross, both from the ruling Social Democrats.
The Czech Republic has banned all imports of live poultry, birds and related commodities from Romania where tests have confirmed the bird flu virus in farm poultry. The Czech State Veterinary Office says it is stepping up preventative measures. The Health Ministry has held talks with pharmaceutical companies about the supply of some 2 million vaccines against bird flu, which will be developed once a human-to-human transmittable virus emerges.
The construction of a new post office building at the peak of the Czech Republic's highest mountain Snezka should be finished by August next year. The new post office will be built on the foundations of the Ceska bouda chalet that was recently demolished. The wood and glass construction will also have a lookout terrace and sell refreshments to tourists.
The European Parliament has decided to strip Czech MEP Vladimir Zelezny, the former director of the Czech commercial television station Nova, of immunity. The Czech judiciary has asked for Mr Zelezny's parliamentary immunity to be removed as he is under investigation for tax evasion and damaging a creditor.
Police has once again shelved the case of the flooding of Prague metro in August 2002. No one will be prosecuted for the 7-billion-crown damage caused by the flood even though investigation revealed construction faults in several stations. The investigators were unable to determine who was responsible for the construction of the stations back in the 1970s.
The government has approved measures aimed at boosting the country's record-low birth rate by allowing maternity leave for up to eight years after a child's birth and boosting fathers' roles, the Labour Ministry has announced. Under the new plan, mothers would be able to take their three-year maternity leave not only during the first 36 months of their child's life, as now, but at any time until the child is eight years old. The national family concept agreed by the government late on Wednesday also entitles fathers to receive financial support if they decide to care for the child at home or take time off work if their child is ill.
The Czech Republic have reached the playoffs for next year's football World Cup, after a convincing 3-0 win against Finland in Helsinki on Wednesday evening. The Czech goals were scored by Tomas Jun, Tomas Rosicky and Marek Heinz. The Czech Republic won despite the absence of key players such as Jan Koller and Marek Jankulovski. Their opponent in the play-offs will be decided on Friday.
The Seychelles will not release fugitive billionaire Radovan Krejcir, who is being prosecuted for extensive fraud and conspiracy to murder in the Czech Republic. Seychelles authorities are cooperating with the Czech police but have refused to extradite Krejcir on the grounds that he is a Seychelles citizen. Krejcir bought Seychelles citizenship back in 1996, a fact that has evoked criticism in the local press. He escaped from the Czech Republic this summer during a police raid of his villa.
The lower house of the Czech Parliament has approved the state budget for 2006 with a deficit of 74.4 billion crowns (an estimated 3.1 billion US dollars). The budget deficit should not exceed 4.6 percent of the GDP if the Czech Republic is to meet conditions under the EU convergence programme paving the way for the country to adopt the euro. The lower house will decide at the end of the year how the 2006 state budget is to be divided among individual ministries.
The Czech Republic remains one of the worst polluters and least efficient users of energy within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an OECD report says. The production of hazardous waste remains three to four times higher than elsewhere in Europe and limits on the levels of dangerous substances in water were often significantly exceeded during the review period between 1998 and 2005. Moreover the poor air quality, particularly in Prague and the industrial regions in the north and north east of the country pose a threat to people's health, the report warned.