Influential Civic Democrat Petr Bendl, the outgoing governor of central Bohemia, has revealed he is not giving high chances to Prague Mayor Pavel Bém in defeating party leader Mirek Topolánek at an upcoming party congress. Just last month, Mr Topolánek’s future at the head of the party was put in doubt after the Civic Democrats suffered disastrous results in regional and Senate elections. But Mr Bendl – who is a Bém supporter - has suggested the prime minister has been able to consolidate his position. He said that support for the leader has remained strong outside the capital and suggested that Civic Democrats are worried that voting against Prime Minister Topolánek could cause a rift in the party.
Union leaders have called off a readiness to strike at Tesco stores in the country after reaching agreement with management on the increasing of personnel at sites. Tesco representative Milan Matušík confirmed on Friday that steps had been taken to boost staff numbers ahead of the holiday season. Union members had complained of understaffing and had threatened protest action. Tesco Stores first entered the Czech market in 1996, and now operate more than 80 supermarkets throughout the country.
Police have detained a 39-year-old Slovak national in connection with a bomb uncovered last year at Brno’s town hall. Luggage containing what specialists have labelled an exceptionally dangerous explosive device, ended up at the town hall’s lost & found after being left at the city’s Main Station. Around 400 people were evacuated from the building after the contents of the case were discovered. The case contained 6.5 kilograms of plastic explosives together with an explosives system. The police say had the bomb gone off, it could have easily killed any bystanders within a 400 metre radius.
Four people involved in the Kuřim child-abuse case, which shocked the country two years ago, have appealed guilty verdicts handed down by a Brno court in October. In the Kuřim case two boys were repeatedly tortured at the hands of their mother, their aunt, and other accomplices. The four who have appealed so far include Barbora Škrlová, a woman in her thirties who was apprehended posing as a child. She was found guilty of severe cruelty and grievous bodily harm and was given a sentence of five years in prison last month. The two central figures in the case – the boys’ mother Klára Mauerová and their aunt Kateřina - have not yet appealed; their lawyers say they will do so ahead of nearing deadlines. Klára Mauerová is reportedly seeking her nine-year sentence to be shortened by six months.
Czech model Karolina Kurková has been voted the ‘World’s Sexiest Woman’ by the US E! television, beating actresses Scarlett Johansson, Angelina Jolie and others for the top spot. Second place went to another top model, Israel’s Bar Rafael. Ms Kurková is estimated by Forbes magazine as being one of the world’s best paid in the modelling business.
A new poll conducted by the CVVM agency has suggested that if elections were held today the opposition Social Democrats would win the most voter support. Voter preference for the party, the survey suggests, has now risen to 43 percent, a 9-point increase over the last two months. The ruling Civic Democrats’ popularity among voters, meanwhile, stands at 27 percent, the poll suggests.
The Secretary-General of the European Council Javier Solana will arrive in Prague to meet with President Václav Klaus as well as the country’s prime minister in early December. It will be Mr Solana’s first official visit as the EU’s High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy. Topics that are expected to be discussed in Mr Solana’s meeting with Mr Klaus include foreign policy issues as well as the Czech Republic’s upcoming six-month EU presidency. The talks are expected to be closely-watched not least because Mr Klaus is a well-known critic of further European integration, as well as the Lisbon treaty.
Members of the legendary British rock group ELO are set to perform two concerts in Prague on Sunday. Organisers added a second concert in the afternoon after tickets for the evening were largely sold out. ELO Former Members will perform with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. It will be the band’s second appearance in the Czech Republic.
Czech prosecutors are to ask for the extradition of suspected criminal gang member Tomáš Půta. Mr Půta – a member of the so-called Berdych gang - was arrested in Ireland in 2003. He is wanted by the Czech authorities for an alleged role in the ‘crime of the century’: the holding up of an armoured van in Prague 6 for 153 million crowns (the equivalent of around 7.5 million US dollars). The robbery took place in September 2002. In the incident, masked men flagged down the vehicle and threatened to use explosives unless the money was handed over.
The small far-right grouping the Workers’ Party are planning another protest in Litvínov, where they clashed with police on Monday after attempting to attack a largely Romany neighbourhood. The spokesperson who announced the follow-up demonstration said only that it would take place in the near future. On Monday, a state holiday, hundreds of Workers’ Party members fought a three-hour pitched battle with police in the north Bohemian town, after they were barred from entering the Janov estate; sixteen people were injured and a number of arrests were made. The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, has given his support to an Interior Ministry proposal to ban the Workers’ Party.
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