The Czech state last year helped to repair over 17,000 flats in the modern apartment blocs known colloquially as "panelaky", about 3,700 flats more than in 2003. The general director of the Union of developers and builders said that to keep the apartment blocs in ideal condition, about 100,000 flats per year would need to be repaired. But cooperatives often fail to agree on scheduling repairs, and private owners are reluctant to pay for maintenance on building occupied primarily by people paying regulated rent.
President Vaclav Klaus was due to meet on Sunday evening with the embattled Prime Minister, Stanislav Gross, who is under pressure to resign his post from both opposition leaders and a junior party in the ruling government coalition. Mr Klaus, on an official visit to Saudi Arabia, told journalists on Sunday before his return to Prague that the two would discuss the latest developments in what he called the coalition crisis.
Some 150 skinheads from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland attended a concert near the Moravian border town of Opava late on Saturday night. The mayor of Jamnice denied organisers permission to hold the concert in the town's cultural centre, but they found another venue some 25 kilometres away, in Suche Lazce. Police videotaped the gathering of far-right extremists, and are still reviewing the footage, but said that no related incidents of violence were reported as of Sunday.
And now to the sport: It was a big weekend for Czech tennis. In the doubles final at the Brazil Open on Saturday, Frantisek Cermak and Leos Friedl won their second consecutive ATP Tour title, beating Argentina's Jose Acasuso and Ignacio Gonzalez King 6-4, 6-4. On Monday, fourth seeded Andre Agassi of the United States faces off against the Czech Radek Stepanek in the first round pairings of the Dubai Open Tennis Championship. Stepanek, an up-and-comer now seeded 12th, marked an upset win last year against the defending champion, Roger Federer of Switzerland.
For his part, Stanislav Gross said on Sunday that he would not resign, and said that the Christian Democrats had violated the coalition agreement by calling on him to do so. Mr Gross said that he did not believe that the Christian Democrats could remain in his government if its leaders continued to question his trustworthiness. Party chairman Miroslav Kalousek, after meeting privately with Mr Gross the previous day, had told journalists that the prime minister should step down for having failed to provide clear answers over the questionable financing of his luxury Prague flat, and his wife's business dealings.
In related news, the State Attorney's Office will hand over two criminal complaints linked to the funding of Mr Gross' luxury flat over to police investigators. One complaint, filed by an unnamed resident of Teplice, in north Bohemia, accuses Mr Gross, his wife, and his uncle, of accepting bribes and of tax evasion; the latter charge is the sole charge of a second complaint, filed by a Prague resident. A third citizen filed a complaint in Beroun, central Bohemia, charging the prime minister with abuse of office. A state district attorney has said the complaints are "fairly vague" and appear to be based solely on media reports.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, who is also chairman of the Social Democratic Party, has said that deputy party chairman Zdenek Skromach will take formal control of the party for a few days, to allow its members to consider their position on the matter. So far the Social Democrats have supported Mr Gross. Even so, the prime minister said he feared the crisis could result in the collapse of the government. The top three leaders of all three coalition parties, the so-called "K9", are due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the situation further.
Fewer police were accused of committing criminal acts in 2004 than in the previous year. Men and women in police uniform committed roughly 600 crimes in 2003 and 325 last year, according to newly released information from the Interior Ministry. Observers credit a change in the law that would strip sacked police workers of their pensions. Previously, even police who had committed criminal acts were entitled to benefits unless a separate court action was taken to discontinue them. The most common crime remains the abuse of authority.
The Christian Democrats, a junior party in the ruling coalition government, have returned to their earlier position demanding that Prime Minister Stanislav Gross step down for failing to make fully clear how he financed his luxury Prague flat and how his wife secured business loans to buy other property. After a meeting on Saturday morning between with the Christian Democrats leader, Miroslav Kalousek, the prime minister said Kalousek's party should leave the Cabinet if its members did not trust him. Mr Gross also threatened to ask President Vaclav Klaus to sack the three Christian Democrat ministers. For his part, Mr Kalousek told the media that his party's ministers have no intention of quitting their posts. He said it was the "prime minister's scandals" that had led people to question the government's trustworthiness. Mr Kalousek said that the future of this government is danger if Mr Gross remains at its helm.
Meanwhile, the State Attorney's Office will hand over two criminal complaints linked to the funding of Prime Minister Gross' flat over to police investigators. One complaint, filed by an unnamed resident of Teplice, in north Bohemia, accuses Mr Gross, his wife, and his uncle, of accepting bribes and tax evasion; the latter charge is also the subject of the second complaint, filed by a Prague resident. A third citizen filed a complaint in Beroun, central Bohemia, charging the prime minister with abuse of office. A state district attorney has said the complaints are "fairly vague" and appear to be based on media reports.