According to a poll released by the Factum Invenio agency, the ruling Civic Democrats would defeat the country's largest opposition party, the Social Democrats, were a national election held today. The poll suggests the Civic Democrats would win three percent more of the vote, earning 33.9 percent, while the Social Democrats would get 30.7 percent.
A Russian pilot and fellow crew member emergency ejected following an incident on Thursday in which the pilot apparently lost control during training of a Czech-made L-39 Albatross. The accident happened near a base in Central Russia; both men landed safely. Russian officials have not revealed additional details. L-39s - made between the years 1971 to 1999 by Aero Vodochody - are flown in training in some thirty countries around the world. The Russian Air Force is said to rely heavily on the planes for training purposes. Accidents there in the past have usually been attributed to pilot errors or poor machine maintenance.
Police are prosecuting a mayor in the Liberec area in North Bohemia for allegedly forging documents accompanying an application for an EU grant. The mayor allegedly forged and altered a building permit he needed for a project worth 38 million crowns, to be financed from EU structural funds. The man has been charged with abusing the power of a public official, forging and altering public documents, and attempted fraud. If found guilty, he could face up to 12 years in prison.
The country's largest opposition party, the Social Democratic Party, has pledged to strike down fiscal reforms planned by the government - if approved - once the party returns to power. Party leader Jiri Paroubek said as much at a press conference on Friday, criticising the reforms put forward by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. He called them "bad" and said they would lower the living standards of 90 percent of Czechs. MPs will begin debating the government's reform package next Tuesday. The ruling parties enjoy a slim majority in the lower house, but a number of their own MPs, too, have expressed reservations on a number of reform issues.
The High Prosecuting Attorney's Office in Prague has commissioned additional expert analysis to determine whether the leaking of a confidential dossier to the media last year was a criminal offence, write Czech dailies Lidove Noviny and Pravo. Christian Democrat MP Pavel Severa is suspected by police of having leaked the report following the meeting of a parliamentary committee. But the prosecuting attorney's office is reportedly not convinced the leak was intentional. The so-called Kubice report, presented to the defence and security committee last year by police specialist Jan Kubice, caused a stir because it suggested there were links between the state sector and organised crime. The contents of the report were leaked just days before the general election, which was won by the opposition Civic Democrats. The Social Democrats, who lost, accused their rivals of intentionally leaking the report, which they say "reversed" the election's outcome.
Two senators from the Independents' Association deputies group have come out against a possible presidential bid by fellow party member and Euro MP Josef Zieleniec. Earlier this week the 61-year old former foreign minister indicated he might consider a bid if he found broader backing in Parliament. But at the moment his chances of finding support appear slim. Mr Zieleniec's candidacy, at the very least, would be opposed by the Communist Party and would also be unlikely to get support from many ruling Civic Democrats. They have already declared the intention of supporting current president and honorary party chairman Vaclav Klaus.
The Czech Republic has signed a joint statement with five other new EU states expressing disappointment over new US legislation that was meant to loosen criteria for some countries being included in the US visa-waiver programme. The signatories made clear in their statement that from their perspective the US had not gone far enough. As it stands, of the six countries which include Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Latvia, and Lithuania, only the Czech Republic would likely meet current conditions for acceptance. The joint statement signed on Thursday said the US legislation retained "artificial barriers" for close US allies; the signatories made clear they would continue seeking changes.
After a pause of several months, the Czech Republic is once again allowing the adoption of Czech children by foreign couples abroad. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs banned foreign adoptions last years following the death of a three-year old Czech boy in an adoptive Swedish family due to alleged neglect. Adoptions will now be governed by stricter rules involving extensive psychological tests for both the children and their prospective parents.
Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek wants to call a meeting of the
leadership of the three ruling parties - for August 13th to propose an
individual income tax rate of 13.5 percent of the super gross wage (the
gross wage plus health and social insurance) next year and 12 percent in
2010. According to the daily Pravo, the proposal is a reaction to pressure
by fellow Civic Democrat Vlastimil Tlusty.
The governing collation of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens originally proposed a 15 percent individual income tax in a draft reform which was approved in May. Experts say fine-tuning of the proposal will be impossible to complete by August 14, when the draft is to be discussed at the Chamber of Deputies meeting.
The US Embassy has confirmed that a team of American experts will come to
the Czech Republic on Monday to examine the conditions for stationing a
possible US radar base at the village of Misov, some 90 kilometres
southwest of Prague, which was chosen as the most suitable location.
Municipalities near the Brdy military area, where the radar base is to be positioned, are against the plan, fearing the radar could affect the environment or the health of local residents. They have repeatedly rejected the base in locally- held referenda.
Social Democrat chairman Jiri Paroubek plans to marry his new partner
The chairman of the opposition Social Democrats, Jiri Paroubek, is planning to marry his new partner Petra Kovacova once he divorces his wife Zuzana Paroubkova, Pravo reported. Speaking to the daily, Mr Paroubek indicated that all of the media would have to write about Miss Kovacova "decently", referring to the fact that some tabloids had called his partner his "mistress".
The opposition leader announced a month ago that he and his wife were divorcing after 28 years and that Ms. Kovacova, some 20 years his junior, was his new girlfriend.
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