The head of Vaclav Klaus's presidential office Jiri Weigl has conveyed the president's greetings to the Social Democrat conference in Brno. President Klaus - who is still honorary chairman of the right-wing Civic Democratic Party - said the Social Democrats were the oldest democratic party in the Czech Republic and their congress was a major event for the whole nation. He also added that even though they were now in opposition they still had a major role to play in ensuring the country's well being. Later, conference delegates passed a resolution calling on the Social Democrat deputies and senators not to vote for Mr Klaus in the next presidential elections, planned for next year. Party leader Jiri Paroubek described President Klaus as a populist and an ideological dogmatist.
Several hundred people congregated on Prague's Old Town Square on Saturday to attend an anti-abortion demonstration organised by the "Movement for Life" civic association. Altogether 27,554 abortions were carried out here last year, which was the lowest total ever recorded since abortions were made legal in the country. Saturday's demonstration was also attended by some Polish pro-Life activists who successfully managed to lobby for a ban on abortions in their country.
Czech and German police have arrested 126 suspected German football hooligans ahead of Saturday's international Euro 2008 qualifying match between the Czech Republic and Germany in Prague. 117 were stopped at the border between the two countries by German police while the remaining 9 were apprehended and sent home by the Czech authorities. Around 3000 German football fans are expected to travel to Prague for Saturday's match. Czech police also expect between 500 and 1000 hooligans to come to Prague for the sole purpose of causing trouble in the Czech capital. They have been given a list of these people by their German counterparts.
Social Democrat chairman Jiri Paroubek was re-elected as the party's leader at its annual conference in Brno on Friday evening. He received sixty percent of the delegates' votes, a total which was significantly less than the 92 percent support he received when first elected last May. Mr Paroubek was the only person standing for the post. Speaking at the conference, Mr Paroubek said the Social Democrats had to modernise in order to win the next election. He said that party needed to appeal more to younger and middle-aged people and also called for more women to be put on the party list of candidates, which he described as a sign of the party's modern thinking.
Prague's mayor Pavel Bem departed the Czech capital on Saturday morning for the Himalayas where he will attempt to climb Mount Everest. The mayor - who is a keen mountaineer - has taken two months' unpaid leave in order to try and climb the world's highest peak. He had earlier been heavily criticised in some quarters for taking so much time off from his duties as Prague mayor to do this.
Interior Minister Ivan Langer has announced that police chief Vladislav Husak - who resigned today - will be replaced by deputy police chief Jan Brázda. Mr Brazda, who previously worked as the deputy director of the west Bohemian police administration, will take up his new post on April 1st. He has been the deputy head of the police since January 2006 and came to the attention of the general public last year when he headed the Czech police team sent to last year's football World Cup to help the competition organisers with security arrangements concerning Czech fans.
According to a new poll, three out of every four Czechs doubt whether their country can attain the same standard of living enjoyed in western European countries within ten years. The survey conducted by the STEM research agency found that forty three percent of respondents don't believe the Czech Republic will reach Western living standards in less than 10 years. A further thirty one percent think the country will never reach these standards. This is a sharp increase from the seventeen percent recorded by STEM in a similar poll conducted in 2003.
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has said the party will adopt a constructive approach to being on the opposition benches in parliament. In an hour-long opening speech at the party's annual congress in Brno, Mr Paroubek said the Social Democrats were willing to cooperate with the new centre-right coalition government on pension, tax and health reforms as well as on reducing government bureaucracy and improving conditions for business. Nevertheless, he warned that the party could not countenance what he described as the government's "anti-social" fiscal reforms and the removal of the welfare state.
Czech Police chief Vladislav Husak announced his resignation on Friday afternoon. "After serious consideration, I have tendered my resignation," he told journalists following a meeting with Interior Minister Ivan Langer. Mr Langer said he respected Mr Husak's decision and added that he hoped that Mr Husak would stay in the police force. Mr Langer has offered him the post of deputy director in the police department responsible for border controls and foreign residents. The head of the police is accused of having warned key suspects in a number of corruption cases ahead of their planned arrest and of leaking sensitive information to a Russian agent. Mr Husak has rejected the allegations and says he is leaving his post because of media pressure rather than because of a bad conscience.
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