The Speaker of the Lower House Lubomir Zaoralek has called a meeting of
all parliamentary party leaders, ahead of Tuesday's debate. They are to
discuss a scandal which erupted in Parliament last week when Freedom
Union deputy Zdenek Koristka accused the opposition Civic Democrats of
offering him a ten million crown bribe to bring down the government in
Mr. Koristka said later he was not the only one approached and he urged other MPs with similar experiences to speak out. The incident has resulted in counter accusations levelled against the Social Democrats, and the Civic Democrats say they will file charges against Mr. Koristka for allegedly spreading lies about them. The Speaker of Parliament said the accusations were a serious blow to Parliament's credibility and should be thoroughly investigated.
The police have arrested a youth who beat up a doctor called out to attend to an intoxicated man. The emergency medical team was called out to attend to a man who had allegedly collapsed but when they arrived on the spot they found a group of highly intoxicated men - with the alleged patient being merely very drunk. When they were getting back into the ambulance one of the men - a 19 year old - attacked the doctor and smashed the ambulance window. A night watchman who arrived on the scene and attempted to help was injured in the face by bits of flying glass. The doctor suffered concussion and a broken nose. There have been several cases of doctors and ambulance personnel attacked by drunks since the beginning of this year.
The Lower House of Parliament is to meet on Tuesday to discuss the government's policy agenda, ahead of a confidence vote in the new administration. Since neither of the two opposition parties are expected to support the government, the coalition will have to rely entirely on its own deputies. Although at present two Social Democrat deputies are in hospital they are expected to be in their benches for the vote itself. With all coalition deputies present the new administration has a slim majority of 101 votes in the 200 seat Lower House.
Ales Sulc, the current head of the interior ministry's security department, is to replace Pavel Pribyl as head of the government's office. Pribyl was forced to resign from the post due to growing public pressure when it emerged that in 1989 he commanded a riot police unit sent to break up anti-communist protests in the streets of Prague. Ales Sulc is a former dissident and signatory of the Charter 77 human rights manifesto. Mr. Sulc has confirmed that he accepted the Prime Minister's offer on Friday. His appointment has yet to be approved by the government.
President Klaus has vetoed a bill on the European arrest warrant. The bill would have made it possible for Czech citizens to be extradited to other EU countries to face trial. The President said that to pass such a bill would mean to hand over a part of the country's sovereignty and its right to protect its citizens. The bill was introduced in some EU states for the first time last year. It is designed to tackle the problem of cross-border crime within the European Union.
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.
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.
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.
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