Police have charged the Civic Democrat deputy Vladimir Dolezal with assisting in attempted bribery. Mr Dolezal, who was stripped of his parliamentary immunity last month, denies any wrongdoing. He is accused of demanding the equivalent of some 35,000 US dollars from businessmen on behalf of a Prague district councillor on a local zoning development commission. Police reportedly have recordings of conversations of the alleged bribery attempt.
Winston Churchill wanted the British Royal Air Force to wipe out German villages in retaliation for the 1942 massacre of Czech civilians in the village of Lidice, The Guardian newspaper reported on Monday. Newly declassified wartime cabinet documents show Churchill wanted to attack small German villages "on a three-for-one basis." The plan, voted down by his Cabinet, was formed five days after German forces murdered most of the 450 occupants of Lidice, a village north of Prague. The Lidice massacre came in retaliation for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi governor of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and opposition leader Mirek Topolanek of the Civic Democrats, have agreed to join forces to try to block a doubling of the so-called "parental" subsidy. The lower house of Parliament had voted to increase to 7200 crowns per month the non-means tested subsidy as of next January. The subsidy is paid to families with children between 6 months and 4 years of age. The prime minister said the measure is too costly, as it would mean 12 billion crowns more in annual spending. He instead proposed spreading out the increase over a four year period. The Senate has yet to debate the proposal.
President Vaclav Klaus has urged Czechs to show initiative and personal responsibility in shaping their own future and that of the Czech Republic. In his New Years address to the nation Mr. Klaus said that all round it had been a good year and that he was proud that the country had managed to successfully overcome a government crisis. 2006 should not bring any major upheavals or about turns, since the country had inner stability, a state further enhanced by the country's membership in the EU and NATO, Mr. Klaus said. On the European front, the Czech president said he was glad to see that a real debate on the future of the EU was finally being allowed to develop. Speaking of the 2006 general elections in the Czech Republic, the president urged politicians to refrain from making empty promises and he urged Czechs to go to the polls because the future of the country depended on each and every one of them.
North Moravia was the region hardest hit by heavy snowfalls and freezing temperatures on Friday; the Karvina area declared a state of disaster and Ostrava's Mosnov airport was forced to close. Many parts of the Czech Republic have experienced major problems on the roads and power blackouts in recent days. Forecasters have warned of ice and frost over the holiday weekend.
The Czech Army is having trouble recruiting doctors and other health workers, and people able to operate specialist equipment, Pravo reported on Friday. The paper says relatively low salaries in the Army made recruitment more difficult, while an Army spokesperson said such skills were in short supply across the labour market.
The Ombudsman's office has uncovered over 50 cases of unlawful sterilisation of women. In an interview for Czech Television, Ombudsman Otakar Motejl said his office had been looking into the cases for over a year. Mr Motejl said Health Ministry documentation on the sterilisations did not contain written requests, or evidence that the women had been fully informed about the procedure. He said the cases, which mostly involve Romany women did not reflect racial discrimination.
Czech ski jumper Jakub Janda came third in the first event of the Four Hills tournament in Oberstorf, Germany. Janda came fifth in last year's Four Hills but this season has been dominating the sport of ski jumping. He will have a chance to catch up with leader Janne Ahonen of Finland at the German resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen on day two, New Year's Day.
The Interior Ministry has given the Union of Communist Youth until the end of March to change its policy programme. If they do not drop a call for a worker's revolution the group face a ban, on the grounds that they are registered as a civic association not a political party. The young Communists say they have no intention of changing their policies.
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