Customs officers in the Czech Republic's second largest city of Brno confiscated counterfeit goods on Sunday worth an estimated 80 million crowns - the equivalent of around 3.7 million US dollars. Police moved in at a supplier's in what was the third day of raids at markets in various parts of the country. A spokesman said that it was one of the most successful raids ever in the south Moravian region. Most of the products confiscated are imitation brand-name goods: perfumes, textiles, and entertainment goods, weighing in at a total of around 50 tonnes. The Brno site raided on Sunday is not open to the general public but strictly to retailers.
The leader of the Social Democratic Party, Jiri Paroubek, has suggested it
would be better for his party not to join a four-party ruling coalition
being proposed by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. Speaking on a Czech TV
news programme on Sunday Mr Paroubek stressed that he couldn't imagine the
Social Democrats joining a government that would rule for only one a half
years; the prime minister's plan suggests the government would run the
country until the spring of 2008. On Sunday, Mr Paroubek said that his
party had already rejected similar proposals in recent months, and
indicated preference for a proposal counting on just two other parties
with a longer mandate.
The Social Democrats are to make public their decision on Monday. Politicians are now in a second attempt to try and form a viable government after elections ended in stalemate in June.
A World Cup ski jumping event at the Czech resort of Harrachov is reportedly at threat of being postponed unless weather conditions improve soon. Namely, temperatures must drop in order to allow for the production of artificial snow. Around Europe the dates for competition have been widely pushed back for lack of proper conditions. Harrachov was supposed to see the Continental Cup next weekend, also cancelled. Meteorologists have forecast that temperatures in most parts of the Czech Republic will remain above zero degrees Celsius until the end of November.
The Minister for Regional Development Petr Gandalovic has said he is in favour of eventual changes that would redefine the legal relationship between landlords and tenants, namely in cases of apartments falling under regulated rent. In the 1990s in the Czech Republic many property owners gained tenants along with previous property confiscated by the communist regime. Mr Gandalovic, speaking on TV Prima on Sunday, said he imagined a "socially-acceptable" period that would act as a buffer before decrees on apartments were replaced by mutually agreed contracts between landlords and tenants. Mr Gandalovic was debating Social Democrat MP Stanislav Krecek, who opposed the idea. Mr Krecek countered by saying that young families starting out couldn't be expected to sign leases limited to terms of one or two years.
A sixteen-year-old boy and his twenty-year-old accomplice have been charged with theft with regards to an attack on a loans & debts representative on Friday. The two, using a meat tenderiser, attacked a representative of Provident Financial home credit when he came to their address. A third person, a female, was also present. The man attacked suffered a blow to the head but managed to escape and is being treated in hospital. Police arrested the two suspects within twenty-four hours.
In related news, Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek suggested to the
press on Sunday that further negotiations between his party and the
right-of-centre Civic Democrats led by Mirek Topolanek - would be
halted unless the prime minister explained comments by a close aide -
as revealed by the Czech newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes. According to the
Saturday edition, Mr Dalik has been trying to woo a number of Social
Democrat MPs - including one who recently left the party's deputies'
club - to support a three-party coalition excluding the Social
Democrats. Mr Dalik denied the story but his remarks were reportedly
recorded by hidden camera.
Earlier, Mr Paroubek called on the prime minister to apologise for his aide's words; he has since indicated he will be seeking reassurances from Mr Topolanek that talks between the Social and Civic Democrats are being taken seriously if they are to continue.
New Czech troops have arrived in Afghanistan as part of rotating forces serving in the multi-national ISAF mission under NATO. The Czechs will serve at Kabul airport for a period of four months, beginning on December 1st. For the first time a Czech, Colonel Bohuslav Dvorak, will take over the command of forces at the airport - some 500 soldiers and specialists from NATO member states, as well as Afghanistan. The Czech unit alone is made up of 47 specialists.
The leader of the Communist Party Vojtech Filip has warned against what he has called "fascistic tendencies" by those in power, indicating some circles were bent on banning ideas and not defending the rights of individuals. Mr Filip was speaking at an international conference titled "Communists and other Democratic Forces for Human Rights and Democracy in Europe and the World". At the conference, the party leader also reportedly criticised a recent ban on the Communist Party's youth organisation by the Interior Ministry, and also criticised steps taken by city hall in the Moravian town of Vsetin, where rent-defaulters were moved to new facilities. The Communist Party led by Mr Filip remains the sole unreformed communist party in the former eastern bloc, criticised by many as "Neo-Stalinist".
Footballer Stephen Hunt, who plays for Reading in the English premiership, has indicated he would like to meet with Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech, recovering from skull surgery that followed the pair's horrific collision during a match in October. The midfielder, who said the collision was an accident, has told the newspaper The Times he would like to meet with Czech during the upcoming Christmas holidays. Earlier, the player sent the Czech keeper a letter but received no reply. It is thought that Cech, who plays for Chelsea and is also the national team's No. 1 goalkeeper, will be out for months before he fully recovers.
The Czech newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes has reported that a close aide to
the prime minister has been attempting to win over a Social Democrat MP
- who recently left his deputies' group - to back a three-party
government excluding the Social Democrats. The news comes ahead of what
many see as a crucial week in talks. The Saturday edition of Mlada
Fronta Dnes writes that the aide, Marek Dalik, claimed he had MP Michal
Pohanka in his camp. The news, however, has been denied by Mr Dalik,
according to a government spokesman. The Social Democrats' Jiri
Paroubek has also reacted, saying he felt that the prime minister
should apologise for his aide's words.
As it stands, the Social Democrats are weighing a four-party proposal put forward by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek this week. They have said they will make public their decision on Monday. But, many are sceptical the party will agree to a deal, given the Social Democrats have opposed early elections in 2008.
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