The Czech National Library has outbid all competitors and purchased a 14th-century manuscript of a Latin translation of the "Chronicle of Dalimil" - the oldest Czech language chronicle in verse and one of the fundamental documents of Czech historiography. The library bought the 24-page illuminated fragment for 300,000 euros in a Paris auction room on Thursday. The Czech state was prepared to pay up to 340,000 euros for the manuscript.
The Labour and Social Affairs Minister and deputy head of the Social Democrats Zdenek Skromach has said that support for separating the posts of Social Democrat chairman and prime minister is growing within his party. Mr Skromach is running against Prime Minister Stanislav Gross for the post of Social Democrat leader at the party's national conference at the end of March. According to speculation, other possible candidates could be the chairman of the lower house Lubomir Zaoralek, Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Education Minister Petra Buzkova and Local Development Minister Jiri Paroubek.
A poll released by the STEM agency has shown that voter preferences for the ruling Social Democratic Party have continued to fall. The poll suggests the party would place 3rd if elections were held today, garnering a little over 13 percent of the vote, behind the Communist Party at 2nd, with 18 percent, and the opposition Civic Democrats at 1st, with around 35 percent of the vote.
Two people were killed and three injured on Wednesday morning when a Prague streetcar derailed and collided with waiting pedestrians. Tram no. 22 derailed as it made a right turn at Prague's busy Charles Square, its rear wagon hitting those on foot. A 59-year-old man and a 64-year-old woman did not survive the accident. Two people are in hospital with serious injuries. The police are investigating the cause of the accident.
An Irish investment and development company, Markland, has bought Kotva - the popular Prague department store built under Communism in 1975. Markland is estimated to have paid more than 67 million US dollars for the store, located in central Prague. Company representatives told journalists on Wednesday that they were confident they could raise consumer interest to pre-1989 levels, when Kotva was Czechoslovakia's most visited shopping centre.
The Czech cabinet has reached a decision on a strategy for increasing public awareness on the EU constitution prior to a possible referendum. The campaign will be headed by the prime minister's office, though the Ministry for Foreign Affairs had expressed an interest. It is estimated that the campaign, which would begin this year and last into 2006, will cost almost 10 million US dollars. The campaign will be run mostly through the media, but it is unclear whether it will be strictly informative or in open support of the constitution treaty.
The Association for Health Care Insurance Consumers has released figures showing the country's health services spent more than one quarter of their funds on patients' medication last year. According to the association, expenses for medication have risen six-fold since 1992, with consumption rising two-fold. Last year some 52 billion crowns - around 2.3 billion U.S., from expenses of around 200 billion crowns, were spent on medication.
The Christian Democrats will leave the coalition government if Stanislav Gross remains Prime Minister after his party, the Social Democrats, hold their conference at the end of the month, the Pravo newspaper reported on Wednesday. Prime Minister Gross has been at the centre of a government crisis after he failed to explain how he paid for his luxury flat in Prague. After exerting pressure on him to resign from office, the Christian Democrats agreed to give the strongest party in government more time to resolve the matter in its own way.
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