The Czech Republic took two silver medals at the Olympic Games in Athens on Sunday. Lenka Smidova came second in the women's Europe sailing category, while a silver medal was also awarded to the Czech men's coxless quadruple sculls comprising Tomas Karas, Jakub Hanak, David Jirka and David Kopriva. This brings the Czech team's tally at Athens to five medals - two silvers and three bronzes.
Freedom Union MP Zdenek Koristka, who says he was offered a bribe by the
opposition Civic Democrats to bring down the government, has called on
other coalition deputies who have had similar experiences to say so
publicly. Mr Koristka says the Civic Democrats offered him 10 million
crowns (over 300,000 euros) not to support the government in a vote of
confidence on Tuesday.
The party strongly denies the claim, and chairman Mirek Topolanek said he was considering filing slander charges over the matter, which is currently being investigated by the police.
President Vaclav Klaus commented on the issue on Sunday, saying he knew Mr Koristka and did not regard him as completely trustworthy. Mr Klaus said he hoped people would think twice before starting "artificial affairs".
Tuesday's confidence vote will be the first test of the three-party coalition led by Stanislav Gross, which - like the previous government - has a majority of just one seat in the Chamber of Deputies. Two Social Democrat MPs are seriously ill and may not make the vote.
On Sunday, senior Civic Democrat Vlastimil Tlusty said the party would consider "pairing" with one of the ill deputies, Hana Orgonikova, thus cancelling out her lost vote. But he said his party would not pair with Miloslav Vlcek, who has been ill for a long time and had "plenty of time" to resign his seat.
Tuesday's vote of confidence in the new government will go ahead as planned; Lower House chairman Lubomir Zaoralek had suggested on Friday the vote be suspended, after allegations the opposition Civic Democrats tried to bribe Freedom Union MP Zdenek Koristka not to support the government in the vote. The Civic Democrats strongly deny the claim, which is being investigated by the police. The coalition has a majority of just one.
The prime minister, Stanislav Gross, has accepted the resignation of
Pavel Pribyl, the man he recently chose to head the Office of the
Government. Mr Pribyl stepped down on Friday after evidence emerged
that members of a riot-police unit under his command attacked
anti-Communist demonstrators in 1989.
Opposition to Mr Pribyl's appointment had been mounting; hundreds of people gathered outside the Office of the Government on Tuesday to call for his sacking, and another demonstration had been planned for next week.
The Czech Republic's rowers failed to reach the podium during
Saturday's finals at the Olympic Games in Athens. Vaclav Chalupa, who
took silver at the 1992 Games, came fifth, as did Ondrej Synek and
Milan Dolecek in the two-man event. Miroslava Kapkova came fourth in
the women's race.
So far the Czech Republic has taken three medals in Athens: a silver and a bronze in women's shooting, and a bronze in the men's two-man kayak slalom.
A remembrance ceremony has been held in front of the Czech Radio building
on Prague's Vinohradska St, the site of the bloodiest fighting on August
21, 1968, when Soviet-led troops invaded Czechoslovakia to crush the
reform movement known as the Prague Spring. More than 90 people were
killed and several hundred wounded in the first weeks of the invasion.
Speaking at Saturday's ceremony - which was attended by around 100, mostly elderly people - the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, Lubomir Zaoralek said efforts to create a more free life in Czechoslovakia did not die under the invading armies' tanks, but a year later in August 1969, when Czechoslovak security forces suppressed protest demonstrations.
The mayor of Prague, Pavel Bem, warned of the dangers of forgetting the past, pointing out that one in five Czechs now vote for the Communist Party. He thanked those who had shown opposition to the occupying troops in 1968, and those who survived the following two decades unbowed.
Pavel Pribyl announced on Friday evening that he was resigning as head of the Office of the Government, saying evidence had come to light that members of a riot-police unit he led beat up anti-Communist demonstrators in 1989. Opposition to Mr Pribyl's recent appointment by Prime Minister Stanislav Gross had been mounting; hundreds of people gathered outside the Office of the Government on Tuesday to call for his sacking, and another demonstration had been planned for next week.
The Czech team have taken their third medal at the Olympic Games in
Athens, bronze for Jaroslav Volf and Ondrej Stepanek in the men's
two-man kayak slalom. Stepanek said the two had felt under immense
pressure for the previous two days, and were extremely relieved
Friday's final went well. Slovak twins Peter and Pavol Hochschorner
took gold in the event.
Meanwhile, Czech tennis player Tomas Berdych was knocked out in the quarterfinals at the Olympics by Taylor Dent of the USA on Thursday evening. The 18-year-old from Prostejov had earlier beaten world number one Roger Federer. And Martina Navratilova will not realise her dream of crowning her career with a first Olympic medal, after she and her US doubles partner were beaten in the quarterfinals.
Among Czech medal hopefuls on Saturday will be Vaclav Chalupa, who won silver in rowing at the 1992 Olympics, and Vera Pospisilova-Cechlova in the discus.
Freedom Union deputy Zdenek Koristka has said he was offered a large bribe
by the opposition Civic Democrats not to support the government in a vote
of confidence next Tuesday. Mr Koristka told Friday's edition of the
newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes a person acting on behalf of the Civic
Democrats had offered him 10 million crowns (over 300,000 euros), a claim
which has been strenuously denied by the party. Chairman Mirek Topolanek
said he was considering filing charges of slander against Mr Koristka, who
said he rejected the alleged bribe but did not report the matter to the
police at the time. He has since been questioned.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, Lubomir Zaoralek said the affair cast doubt on the credibility of Parliament, and Tuesday's vote of confidence might have to be postponed. The government has a majority of just one in the 200-seat Lower House.
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