Following a day of talks between President Vaclav Klaus and the heads of
the five parliamentary parties, leaders appear to have reached a deal
solving the first step in the political deadlock that ensued following
June's national election. Until now, MPs had not been able to agree on a
candidate for speaker of the lower house, blocking the political process,
and preventing the president from naming anyone prime minister.
The candidate to serve temporarily as speaker is Social Democrat MP Miroslav Vlcek. If he is elected on Monday, President Vaclav Klaus will then appoint Mirek Topolanek whose party, the right-of-centre Civic Democrats won June's election, prime minister.
Mr Topolanek's party has been negotiating support for a minority government this week among the Social Democrats. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said on Friday that if his party's candidate is elected, his government will likely hand in its resignation on Tuesday. Mr Paroubek also confirmed that he would replace interim speaker Vlcek in the post if Mr Topolanek heads the new government.
The Czech competition office has issued a record fine of 370 million crowns, the equivalent of around 17 million US dollars, on gas importer and distributor RWE Transgas for abusing its dominant position on the market. The fine is the biggest imposed on a single company by the Czech competition watchdog. According to the office, RWE Transgas discriminated in its gas supply contracts between regional gas distributors which belonged to the company and those which did not. The competition office found that the company, also banned its distribution companies from selling natural gas outside their territory, cutting competition on the market and charged excessive prices for storage of natural gas during 2005. Previously, the highest fine issued to a single company was given to the fixed-line giant Cesky Telecom, which had to pay a fine of 205 million crowns.
Czech police detained a journalist on Friday who tried to test airport security at a regional airport. A police spokesman criticised the move under the current circumstances, referring to the foiled terrorist attempt to bomb airplanes leaving London's Heathrow airport. It has not been decided whether the journalist, from a local Czech newspaper, will face criminal charges. In testing security measures the journalist climbed over a fence and strayed into off-limit areas of the airport.
Czech league champions Slovan Liberec have announced the signing of Brazilian striker Joao Francisco de Sales. De Sales, who previously played for Brazilian top flight team Sao Caetano, signed a one year deal with a further two-year option. Slovan Liberec are hoping to qualify for the Champions League group stage following a 0-0 draw at home to Spartak Moscow in the final qualifying round first leg.
A French tourist coach collided with a train at a crossing near Brno on Friday, killing the driver and injuring nine others, including the train driver. There were more than forty tourists from France, Spain, and Mexico on board the bus. Most of those injured were Spanish nationals. The cause of the accident is not yet known. The crossing that was the scene of the accident was equipped with a traffic warning signal but no barrier.
Prague's Ruzyne international airport has stepped up security following
the news on Thursday of thwarted terrorist attacks that were to have
targeted US bound planes from Britain. The additional security measures
concern primarily flights bound for Great Britain and the US, and are
in effect. Passport and security clearance have been tightened and
passengers are no longer allowed to take liquids or gels on board. A
spokeswoman for the airport recommended that anyone travelling to
either Great Britain or the US arrive well in advance of boarding - at
least two hours before take off.
A number of flights from Prague to London were cancelled on Thursday as London's Heathrow airport closed to traffic. Also on Thursday: Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek met with the heads of Czech Intelligence and requested the activation of a special team which will monitor the situation and coordinate security measures. The Czech Intelligence Service has issued a statement saying there is no direct threat to the Czech Republic at present.
The Czech tennis player Tomas Berdych has caused a major upset by defeating world number two Rafael Nadal of Spain at the Toronto Masters. Berdych, who is 20, beat Nadal 6-1 3-6 6-2 in the third round of the competition. The Czech's previous biggest scalp was world number one Roger Federer, who he defeated at the Athens Olympics two years ago.
The police anti-corruption unit has detained six suspects in a nine-year-old case of suspected fraud involving 1.2 billion crowns - around 55 million US dollars. The CTK news agency has reported it was told by an unnamed source that police have reason to believe the fraud - the illegal siphoning-off of assets from CS Fondy - was masterminded by Pavel Tykac and Jan Dienstl, the former heads of the now defunct Motoinvest financial company. Along with the two, four others have been detained for questioning. A spokeswoman for the state attorney's office has said that police may request some of the suspects be remanded in custody.
Japan's largest glass maker, Asahi Glass, said Thursday it plans to invest 100 million euros (128 million dollars) in the building of a new glass furnace in the Czech Republic. Construction of the furnace with a capacity of 700 tonnes a day will start later this year at a factory owned by its European subsidiary Glaverbel S.A., the Japanese company said in a statement. Full-scale production of float glass, which is mainly used for construction and automobiles, will begin at the furnace in 2008.
The Civic Democratic Party has said that it finds the president's proposal acceptable on condition that the interim head of the lower house would not in any way try to influence the choice of prime minister. Mr. Topolanek, who is most likely to be appointed prime minister designate, said that the mandate of the new Czech government should exceed 2009, when the Czech Republic will preside over the European Union. A shorter term in office would be meaningless, he said. The Social Democrats have indicated that they would be ready to support a minority Civic Democrat government that would include both politicians and experts. There is still controversy between the two parties over who would pick the experts.