Miroslav Slouf, who served as advisor to the former prime minister Milos Zeman, has been asked to leave the Social Democratic Party because of his contacts with people from the underworld. In an interview for the Mlada Fronta Dnes daily, Slouf admitted to having had frequent contacts with the murdered mafia boss Frantisek Mrazek who was suspected of extensive fraud and conspiracy to murder. Shortly after the interview was published Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek said Slouf should leave the party without delay and he advised the ruling Civic Democrats to cut all contacts with him immediately. During Milos Zeman's administration in the years between 1998 and 2002 Miroslav Slouf was one of the most influential figures behind the scenes. It is feared that the man who advised the then-prime minister was himself advised by a mafia boss.
News reporters at Czech Television are demanding an apology from the prime minister for saying that their reports were manipulative and biased. The news staff of Czech TV on Monday slammed the station's general director Jiri Janecek for not coming out in their defense and said that the accusations were so serious that Prime Minister Topolanek should either prove his claim or publicly apologize. They also want an apology from the outgoing deputy prime minister Jiri Cunek who accused them of buying information from the police and the state attorney's office. The accusations were made during heated debates relating to the case of Mr Cunek, who was forced to announce his resignation after Czech TV said it had proof that he had abused the country's welfare system.
The Supreme Administrative Court on Monday rejected Prague City Hall's complaint against the verdict of the Prague City Court which abrogated the City Hall's ban on a march by right-wing extremists through the Jewish quarter on November 10th. The Supreme Administrative Court agreed with the Prague City Court in that the City Hall had made procedural mistakes in justifying the ban. However it appears that the march will not take place anyway since the City Hall invalidated the request on other grounds. The planned march scheduled for the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the 1938 pogrom on Jews, sparked a wave of protests both in the Czech Republic and abroad. The City Hall has said it is determined to prevent it taking place.
Roman Linek, deputy chairman of the Christian Democratic Party, seems the most likely candidate to succeed Jiri Cunek as deputy prime minister and minister for local development. Mr. Linek told the daily Pravo on Monday that he was prepared to accept the posts if he received majority support from his party.
European representatives gathered at the European Energy Forum in Prague on Monday to discuss if a "nuclear energy renaissance" was feasible to cut the European Union's dependence on imported energy. Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek called on France, Finland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Italy and the Baltic countries to support a "nuclear energy renaissance" saying that it was necessary to confront Europe's shortfall. Participants at the forum will discuss a common energy platform and outline a plan on objectives for 2020 as well as commercial cooperation with Russia.
The heavy vehicle toll collected on Czech motorways will be a billion crowns higher than expected in the first year of the system's operation, experts in the field told the CTK news agency. They said the overall amount of money collected would be higher due to a significant growth in the volume of road transport thanks to the country's fast growing economy. The full year revenue is expected to reach 5.8 billion crowns. The system's operator Kapsch should receive 2 billion crowns for its services. Following some teething problems at the start of the year the system has run smoothly.
Interior Minister Ivan Langer said on Monday he considers the paramilitary unit recently established by the far-right National Party "personally unacceptable" and said the police would keep a sharp eye on its activities. The establishment of this right-wing paramilitary unit has also sparked criticism from the country's next-door neighbour Slovakia. Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic said in an interview for Slovak Radio over the weekend that he was greatly concerned by this development and what he called "Prague's lack of response to it". He said such a unit could fuel extremism in Slovakia.
The Zlin branch of the Christian Democrats has expressed support for the party's embattled leader Jiri Cunek, who last week announced his resignation from all government posts. Mr. Cunek is once again being investigated for fraud after the state attorney re-opened a case previously closed for lack of evidence and it has also emerged that in the 1990s he had abused the welfare system by taking social and housing allowances from the state at a time when he had millions of crowns in the bank. Many Christian Democrats have called on him to step down as party leader as well, but Mr. Cunek claims he is innocent and wants to defend his position as party head. He is expected to be quizzed about his finances at a party conference on Tuesday.
Visitors to the centre of Prague on Sunday were given the opportunity to take part in an original Czech "sport" called woodkopf, which involves two people with wooden boards on their heads take one another on. The light-hearted event was organised by a group of theatre actors, who have called for woodkopf to be included in the Olympic Games if Prague wins a competition to host the event in 2016. Actor Vladimir Cech, who has been playing for four years, said it was as integral to Czech culture as beer and knedlo zelo vepro (dumplings, cabbage and pork); one day, he said, woodkopf will be regarded internationally as a Czech word.
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