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.
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.
Communist MP Josef Vondruska, who was asked by the Czech police to be
stripped of his political immunity, should offer to give it up himself,
deputy chairman of the Communist party Jiri Dolejs told the Czech Press
The police want to question Mr Vondruska as part of their investigation into the abuse of prisoners in Minkovice jail where he was a warden throughout the 1980s. It is alleged that he treated political prisoners with particular severity. The Committee on Mandate and Parliamentary Privilege will discuss the matter next week before referring it to parliament.
Police suspect Christian Democratic deputy Pavel Severa of having leaked
the so-called "Kubice report" to the media. The controversial
report claimed that the state administration had been infiltrated by
organized crime. Mr Severa has denied the accusation but has refused to
Jan Kubice, head of the anti-organised crime unit, presented the report last year to the lower house's defence and security committee, of which Mr Severa was a member. The report was leaked only four days before parliamentary elections. The then ruling Social Democrats accused the Civil Democrats - the largest opposition party at the time - of being responsible for the leak which they say "reversed the election outcome".
Guns from Ceska zbrojovka arms producer were stolen during their transport to the US in the past few days. The damage amounts to more than 80,000 Czech crowns (USD 4,000). According to the Pravo daily, it was the second arms theft from the delivery over the Atlantic Ocean in the past months and the third in the past year.