Louis Vuitton may back out of plans to hold a private party on Prague's famous Charles Bridge after the city council put its foot down about closing the bridge to the public. The news that the bridge would be closed to the public for two days because it had been leased to Louis Vuitton for a private party and fashion event has provoked criticism from all sides. It appears that the mayor of Prague 1 Vladimir Vihan approved the plan without consulting the other city councilors, on the grounds that it would be good publicity for the Czech capital. The mayor of Prague Pavel Bem has now moved to correct the decision, saying that Charles Bridge should not be closed to the public even for an hour and laying down strict conditions under which the fashion event can take place. The city hall has also offered Louis Vuitton alternative locations where it would be far less restricted.
The Civic Democratic Party, which won the largest share of the votes in June's general elections, says a minority cabinet with a restricted agenda which would prepare the country for early elections in 2007 is the best way out of the current political stalemate. The Civic Democrats are seeking support for such a cabinet from both the Green Party and the Christian Democrats. Negotiations with the Social Democrats look uncertain. Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has put an embargo on talks with the Civic Democrats until the confidence vote in Parliament, saying his party members would not so much as respond to a phone call from the rival party. Prime Minister designate Mirek Topolanek has until the end of this week to produce a new cabinet and if it is appointed by the president he must ask Parliament for a vote of confidence within 30 days.
A regional court has acquitted Bohumil Kulinsky, former choirmaster of Bambini di Praga, of sexually abusing two teenage choir girls. Kulinsky was acquitted in these two particular cases for lack of evidence. However he has been charged with abusing 47 young girls in all over a period of twenty years. If found guilty, Kulinsky could spend up to 12 years in jail.
Social Democrat leader and outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said on Tuesday that he expects to be entrusted with the task of forming a new government in October, since he does not believe that a minority Civic Democrat government can win a confidence vote in the lower house. He said that in the coming weeks his party would go into the opposition, prepare for local and Senate elections and refrain from any negotiations on a future government.
A Czech online news server claims that the radar which could be built in the Czech Republic within a projected US missile base in central Europe could jam TV, radio and mobile phone signals. Citing a military specialist, the iDnes server writes that the XBR radar is the size of a small space station and would be the only one of its kind in Europe. The specialist suggests that given the country's relatively small size the radar could also prove to be a threat to air transport. Available surveys suggest that most Czechs are opposed to the idea of having a US missile base on Czech territory and politicians are debating the possibility of holding a referendum on the issue, should the US make an official request.
Following talks with the Civic Democratic Party on Tuesday, the acting chairman of the Christian Democratic Party Jan Kasal said his party would not actively support a minority Civic Democrat cabinet. Mr. Kasal said that once the new cabinet was unveiled his party would decide whether to vote against it or tolerate it by leaving the chamber during a vote of confidence. There is no question of active support, we are not in favour of early elections, Mr. Kasal told journalists. Former Christian Democrat leader Miroslav Kalousek, who resigned last week after a rank and file rebellion over the prospect of cooperating with the Communists, was not on the negotiating team. Three deputy chairmen resigned in his wake, accepting co-responsibility for a bad decision. The party's negotiating team is now led by the former first deputy chairman Jan Kasal who will serve as acting chairman until the party elects a new leadership at a national conference in December.
Customs officers have confiscated around 3,000 pairs of counterfeit brand shoes worth several million crowns in shopping centres around the country. All the fake brand products belonged to one company based in the eastern city of Ostrava, according to the CTK news agency owned by a Polish businessman.
The Civic Democratic Party which won the largest share of the votes in June's national elections, is considering the possible types of government that party leader and Prime Minister designate Mirek Topolanek is going to propose to President Vaclav Klaus on Friday. Mr Topolanek speaks of three versions of temporary cabinets which would lead the country to early elections next year. Some party officials also speak of the possibility of a regular government which could serve a full term on condition that outgoing Prime Minister and chairman of the Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek steps down as party leader, thus allowing for a compromise deal on the future government. The June elections produced a deadlock on the Czech political scene where no political block has a clear majority in the lower house of parliament.
The Interior Ministry has said that some 90 refugees, who had applied for asylum in the Czech Republic, escaped from two refugee centres in North Moravia and Central Bohemia at the end of last week. The ministry says it was most likely an organised escape masterminded by people smugglers and the asylum seekers are expected to try and cross the Czech border to get further west. Under Czech legislation, an escape from a refugee centre is an infringement on the asylum law. The Interior Ministry added most of the refugees were economic migrants who would not have qualified for asylum in the Czech Republic.
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