The former Czech foreign minister Josef Zieleniec, now a member of the European Parliament, will be the national leader for two small parties competing in next year's general elections. Mr Zieleniec will campaign for the Association of Independent Candidates (SNK) and the European Democrats (ED). He will also be the two parties' joint candidate for the post of prime minister, although he will not run for parliament in the Czech Republic. The Association of Independent Candidates and the European Democrats expect to fully merge and become one party in January.
A "tell all" book by the fugitive Czech billionaire Radovan Krejcir was to be published on Monday. In the book Krejcir -- who is wanted for conspiracy to murder, counterfeiting, forgery, tax evasion, extortion, and abduction -- claims to have lent the ruling Social Democrats tens of millions of crowns in return for special favours. In the book he also describes in detail the alleged corrupt practices of police and governmental authorities, but doesn't name names. Radovan Krejcir escaped from police custody this autumn. He was later found to be living in the Seychelles islands, where he and his family obtained citizenship many years ago.
Jakub Janda of the Czech Republic won a World Cup ski jumping event on Sunday in Harrachov, Czech Republic to claim his third victory of the season. Janda led after a first-round jump of 138.5 metres and his 141-metre leap was also the longest of the second round. He collected 287.1 points on the K125 hill. Janne Ahonen of Finland finished second with 281.7 points and Switzerland's Andreas Kuettel was third with jumps of 132 and 137.5 metres for 268.6 points. Janda now leads the overall standings with 452 points, followed by Kuettel and Ahonen.
The regional court in Brno on Monday refused to extradite a Czech businessman to Romania, where he faces an eight-year prison sentence for incitement to murder. Frantisek Priplata was implicated in the murder of a Romanian official killed in 2000. Romanian prosecutors said that Priplata wanted to end a series of strikes at a local plant that had been bought by a Czech company. He escaped while being transferred to a local prison in Romania and returned home via Hungary this year.
The Czech capital, Prague, has been named the wealthiest city in the ten countries that joined the European Union in May last year. A European Commission survey known as the Urban Audit also measured the quality of life in 258 cities in the European Union. Prague did especially well in terms of culture, ranking fifth in terms of the number of museums per capita and seventh in the number of theatres.
The Czech Republic is on target to end the year with its best annual growth rate since 1995. Although GDP growth slowed to 4.9 percent in the third quarter, economists polled by the CTK news agency said they expect it to top 5 percent, which is three times that of the European Union average. The export of automobiles and high-tech products to other EU countries is expected to contribute most to GDP growth.
Deputy Prime Minister Martin Jahn will reportedly become a board member at Skoda Auto. The outgoing minister for economic development, who announced two months ago that he would quit politics by year's end, declined to comment on a report in the business daily Hospodarske Noviny that he would be joining the German-owned carmaker. Mr Jahn did however confirm that he had been approached by the state carrier Czech Airlines (CSA).
Transport Minister Milan Simonovsky says an electronic road toll
system, which is to be introduced in 2007, could bring in up to 20
billion Czech crowns (a little under 860 million US dollars). If only
lorries above 12 tonnes are tolled, the Czech state would make around
10,5 billion crowns a year but if vehicles above 3,5 tonnes are
included in the toll system then the country could get up to 20 billion
crowns, Mr Simonovsky said on Sunday.
At the moment, the state makes around 1 billion crowns off special coupons that drivers have to buy to use the country's motor-ways. The new electronic toll system is to be provided by the Austrian company Kapsch.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek says three police officers who were caught on
tape beating a young man cannot go unpunished. Speaking in a TV discussion
programme on Sunday, Mr Paroubek criticised an Interior Ministry
investigation, which concluded that the police officers had not broken the
law. A video tape shows how the officers beat and kick a defenceless man
lying on the ground at last July's CzechTek music festival.
Mr Paroubek says the young man would surely win his case if he turned to the state prosecution for help. The leader of the Christian Democrats, Miroslav Kalusek, also criticised the investigation, saying the system that monitors police action is inefficient because it is controlled by the Interior Ministry.
The Bethlehem light, a light which symbolises hope and peace every Christmas, is now in the Czech Republic. Every year, a child collects the light from the grotto in Bethlehem where Jesus Christ was born. It is then flown to Vienna and distributed to scouts from across Europe who take it back to their own countries. The first time the light was distributed to the Czech Republic was in December 1989. As has become tradition, the light also shines in the lobby of the Czech Radio building, from which people can light their own candles.
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