The Civic Democratic Party, led by Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, has distanced itself from two of its MPs – Jan Morava and Vlastimil Tlustý – in a breaking scandal. The party has subsequently called on both to give up their posts. Journalists have revealed that 29-year-old Jan Morava allegedly spent months plotting against fellow MPs – most notably rebel figures within the ruling coalition – for political purposes. Green Party MP Olga Zubová was the main figure targeted, TV Nova and Mladá fronta Dnes have reported. Mr Morava allegedly had her daughter monitored and secretly photographed to try and create material to scare and blackmail the rebel MP into voting well within coalition lines. Mr Morava expressed an interest, also, in attaining compromising material on others, journalists reported.
The Prague daily Právo has reported that Ostrava’s Transport Authority has been handed a 200,000 crown fine for failings related to a section of tramway track in the city that was the scene of a deadly collision between two trams in April, killing three people and badly injuring 11 others. The authority reportedly knew of close calls in the past, where collisions were narrowly averted on the piece of single-track, with the vehicles managing to stop and back-up in time. The fine, Právo writes, is the second the authority has been handed by the Rail Safety Inspection office. An official announcement is expected on Monday.
The Czech Republic and the United States have agreed on the final formulation of the Status of Forces Agreement or SOFA treaty - defining the conditions for US troops who will serve at a proposed US radar base on Czech territory. The Czech government is to deal with the treaty within two week’s time. A team of US specialists had been in the Czech Republic to continue negotiations, the Czech Defence Ministry said. On Friday the ministry revealed that only minor details, such as proofreading, now remained. The contents of the final text have not been released. The main treaty on the US radar base was signed back in July and will now have to be ratified by the country’s parliament.
Martin Bursík, the head of the Green Party, will continue in his post as party leader. Early Saturday evening Mr Bursík was backed by a majority of delegates, defeating the former education minister Dana Kuchtová, his closest challenger. He was backed by roughly two-thirds of delegates, 227 votes, while Mrs Kuchtová received 109. Mr Bursík and Mrs Kuchtová and their supporters have been at odds over the course the party should take in the future: Mr Bursík, a moderate, had been criticised by a wing within the party for his positive stance on a US radar base proposal, as well as at odds with Mrs Kuchtová on other issues, such as nuclear energy. Saturday will also see the election of new deputy heads as well as discussion on proposed changes to the party’s organisation. Dana Kuchtová has already confirmed she will run for the post of first deputy leader.
A fire near Tachov close to the Czech-German border destroyed some 2,500 birds at a local pheasantry in the early hours of Saturday morning. Damages have been estimated at two million crowns. Police have not ruled out arson or technical malfunction as possible causes. Fire fighters were able to save roughly half of the animals in the building.
An increasingly wealthy and confident Russia has been testing the West with its invasion of Georgia and it is likely there will be more such crises in the region, Deputy Foreign Minister Tomáš Pojar has said. On Friday. Mr Pojar met with senior US officials in Washington this week to discuss plans for a US radar base in the Czech Republic. Reuters reported that in an interview with reporters at the United Nations, Mr Pojar outlined that the Czech Republic did not think that the Russian invasion of Georgia was the last crisis that would pit the new bolder Russia against the West. Some analysts have suggested that the Crimea region in southern Ukraine could be used by Russia to destabilize the country. The region hosts Russia's Black Sea fleet in the port of Sevastopol, and the majority of people living there are ethnic Russians.
Civic Democrat Vlastimil Tlustý has also come under fire from the Civic
Democrats for actively cooperating with investigative journalists in the
case: together with a female model he agreed to stage photographs to
fake compromising material, then used as bait by journalists trying to
uncover questionable practices in political circles. It was Jan Morava who
allegedly accepted the material as “real”. On Friday, Prime Minister
Mirek Topolánek railed against Vlastimil Tlustý, accusing him of
initiating the entire scandal.
In the case, he said that MP Jan Morava was “more a victim than a perpetrator”. But he also expressed disgust that anyone would target a politician’s family. In light of the developments, the Civic Democrats have apologised not only to Green Party MP Olga Zubová but also to Czech citizens.
Belgian club Anderlecht reportedly value Czech football midfielder Jan Polák at 15 million euros and won’t allow the Czech international to depart to any other club for less. The player recently told a Czech daily he had received an offer but admitted Anderlecht was against his leaving. The player first joined the club last year; unofficial estimates gauged his transfer from Nuremburg at around 3.5 million euros. Anderlecht coach Ariel Jacobs has called Polák one of the team’s “best players”, saying the midfielder had “enormous potential”. He also said he wouldn’t be surprised if Polák one day moved on to one of the richer leagues.
A state prosecutor has rejected a legal complaint by two employees of an Ostrava construction company charged in connection with a deadly train accident in August. Zdeňek Malý and Oldřich Magnusek could face up to ten years in prison for allegedly having failed to have taken steps to properly secure a bridge under construction over tracks in the eastern part of the country. On August 8 the bridge collapsed ahead of an oncoming train. Seven people were killed, and 70 were injured in the tragedy, described as one of the worst Czech railway accidents in recent memory. Both men charged have denied any wrongdoing; the police have not ruled out that others might still be charged in connection with the case.
In a different twist in the story on Friday, Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek suggested that Jan Morava is "more a victim than a perpetrator" in the breaking scandal. He called on MP Vlastimil Tlustý – a noted rebel within his party – to step down in connection with the case. The prime minister criticised Mr Tlustý for actively cooperating with reporters in their investigation. The MP agreed to take part in staged photographs to create fake “damaging” material. The subject of the photos was a “clandestine” meeting with an anonymous young woman at a hotel. The prime minister called Mr Tlustý’s cooperation with reporters on the story unacceptable; he also said that the media had no right to make use what he termed an "agent-provocateur".
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