Deputy PM and Regional Development Minister Jiri Cunek was interrogated for several hours by the anti-corruption police on Thursday in the Moravian town of Olomouc. He told the CTK news agency that he felt "quite good" after the questioning. Mr Cunek reiterated he was not going to step down over his corruption charges.
Police have arrested two men who are believed to have stolen an early version of the latest project by Slovak film director Juraj Jakubisko. The director, who lives in the Czech Republic, says the men threatened to illegally distribute his latest film if he failed to pay them half a million crowns. The premiere of the thriller about the 16th-century Hungarian serial killer Elizabeth Bathory is scheduled for this autumn.
The US Lieutenant General Henry Obering, director of the Missile
Defense Agency, has said the United States is open to European demands
that a missile shield system it plans to deploy in Poland and the Czech
Republic be brought under NATO. Mr Obering said on Thursday he would
not be averse to the shield being integrated into NATO's defensive
The United States says the missile shield is meant to protect Europe and US forces there from missiles fired by what Washington calls "rogue states", such as Iran and North Korea. Senior European officials, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, have called for the missile defence issue to be debated within the Alliance rather than on a bilateral basis.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek says he will not seek the dismissal of his deputy Jiri Cunek in the coming days. Deputy Prime Minister Jiri Cunek who is also Minister for Regional Development is facing corruption charges. Prime Minister Topolanek said earlier this week that mounting public pressure is likely to eventually force Mr Cunek to leave the cabinet.
The head of the Catholic Church in the Czech Republic has said the Church does not enjoy the best of relationships with President Vaclav Klaus. Speaking on a radio programme on Tuesday, Cardinal Vlk said that relations with the president were not very positive. In particular, the cardinal highlighted Mr Klaus's negative reaction to a memorandum drawn up by a number of Catholic organisations on defining the relationship between church and state and finally settling the issue of church property.
The US Congress has taken a first step towards cancelling the requirement for Czechs to get a visa for travelling to the United States. Senators have approved a proposal that would allow visa requirements to be cancelled for countries like the Czech Republic who are allies of the US in its so-called War against Terrorism. The proposed legislation would have to be passed by the House of Representatives in order to come into effect.
The Justice Ministry is preparing a new Penal Code that sees the age of criminal responsibility lowered from 15 to 14 years. Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil said on Wednesday that the bill should be ready by the end of next month. Unlike last year's proposal, which was not passed because it failed to deal with large-scale fraud, the new bill will have a clause on the issue; however, it will not have a clause on euthanasia, as it is to be dealt with by a separate law. The current Penal Code is considered outdated as it was written in the 1960s.
Austrian activists blocked four Czech-Austrian border crossings on Wednesday. The blockades were staged in protest at the Temelin nuclear power plant which is just 50 km away from nuclear-free Austria. Following two recent leaks of slightly radioactive liquid at the plant, the activists are planning more protests to call for an investigation into Temelin's safety.
Germany's Social Democrats would like the European Union to hold discussion on a US request to station part of its anti-missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Since EU members hold a joint foreign and security policy this issue should not be ignored, according to the head of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament Martin Schulz. German Chancellor and Christian Democrat Angela Merkel, on the other hand, says talks on the defence system should mainly involve NATO.
The Communists have failed to win support for a bill on national
referenda in the lower house of parliament. The bill needed the support
of 120 deputies in the 200-seat chamber as this is the majority needed
for a bill like the proposed national referendum law, whose enactment
requires an amendment to the constitution. The Communists' proposal was
rejected in the first reading on Wednesday when all 100 governing
coalition MPs voted against. If it were passed Czechs would have been
able to hold a referendum on whether or not a US radar station should
be built on Czech territory.
The Green Party, which generally supports the enactment of a national referendum law, is working on its own proposal.
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