The Austrian chancellor, Alfred Gusenbauer, is expected to discuss the Temelin nuclear power station in south Bohemia when he visits Prague in just under two weeks' time. While Mr Gusenbauer's office has not revealed particular details of his visit, the Czech foreign minister recently said a senior Austrian figure would discuss the power plant with Czech leaders soon. Opponents of Temelin say it is unsafe.
A Social Democrat politician died after being given hallucinogenic drugs while in prison in the 1960s, Pravo reported. It quoted an StB secret police file made public by the Czech foreign intelligence service. It said Bohumil Lausman had developed a weak heart after over a decade in jail, and failed to withstand the StB's drug experiment. Lausman had escaped to Austria but was kidnapped in 1953 and brought back to Czechoslovakia, where he received a 17-year prison term.
The governing Civic Democrats remain the most popular party in the Czech Republic, suggests a poll released by the STEM agency. The poll, conducted in February, indicated just over 31% of Czechs would vote for the party. The Social Democrats were second in the survey with 23%, followed by another opposition party the Communists on 12.7%.
The Czech army has sent a replacement plane to Japan to carry the Czech president, Vaclav Klaus. On Thursday the president was forced to cut short a visit to Hiroshima due to problems with his official jet, which had a battery fault. But Mr Klaus did get to visit a memorial to victims of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The president is on a four-day official visit to Japan with Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and a delegation of Czech businessmen.
The number of counterfeit banknotes detected in the Czech Republic fell last year. Some 7,800 fake notes were discovered, down almost 1,500 on 2005. However, the total value of counterfeit money found in 2006 was up compared to the previous year, said the Czech National Bank. A spokesperson said there was one counterfeit note to every 200,000 real notes in circulation in the Czech Republic; the European Union average is one fake note to 20,000 genuine ones.
A former finance minister, Vlastimil Tlusty, turned down the opportunity to become the Czech Republic's next European commissioner. He told the daily Pravo he had been offered the post by Prime Minister and Civic Democrats chief Mirek Topolanek. But Mr Tlusty said he would not accept any post that would entail giving up his seat in the lower house. Mr Topolanek left Mr Tlusty out of his cabinet despite the latter's long experience as shadow finance minister. The mandate of the current Czech Euro commissioner, Vladimir Spidla, expires in 2009.
Anti-terrorism measures at Prague's Ruzyne airport will remain in place until at least Sunday, after a woman claiming to be a psychic said an aircraft was going to be attacked. However there has been a reduction in the number of uniformed and plain-clothes officers on duty compared to Wednesday evening, when the police received the warning. A spokesperson said police were focusing their attention on flights to destinations regarded as relatively risky.
Ten Czech pop artists are to take part in a competition to become the country's first ever entrant in the Eurovision Song Contest. The country's representative will be chosen by viewers of Czech Television's national Euro Song competition between February 23 and March 10. The entrants are Kabat, Petr Kolar, Helena Vondrackova, Gipsy.cz, Samer Issa, Petr Bende, Vlastimil Horvath, Helena Zetova, Lili Marlen and LBP. Czech TV said a number of pop stars turned down the opportunity to take part.
Prague mayor Pavel Bem's plans to take two months of unpaid leave in order to climb Mount Everest have met with criticism from his Civic Democratic Party. Several high ranking party members, including deputy chairman Petr Necas, have publicly criticized Mr. Bem's plans, saying that as mayor of Prague he has a lot of responsibility and cannot walk away from the job for that length of time. Others have spoken out in the mayor's defence saying that his mountaineering expedition will attract a lot of publicity for Prague and arguing that this is part of the mayor's job.
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