Daily news summary News

23-07-2004

The Czech's EU Commissioner, Pavel Telicka, says he only officially learned he may be replaced in Brussels after a public news conference.

The Czech's EU Commissioner, Pavel Telicka, first learned that he may be replaced in Brussels by outgoing Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla from a friend. Mr Telicka told the CTK news agency that he only received official news of that possibility on Friday, after a public news conference. The post of EU commissioner was first offered to Mr Spidla by the acting head of the Social Democrats and Prime Minister-designate, Stanislav Gross, who is now putting together a new cabinet. The Christian Democrat party, which will be part of the new government coalition, has pushed for Mr Telicka's replacement due to his past membership in the Communist party.

Russian neo-Nazi band leader Denis Gerasimov officially charged with supporting a movement aimed at suppressing the rights of others while on Czech territory

A Prague district attorney has filed formal charges against the leader of the Russian neo-Nazi band Kolovrat, Denis Gerasimov, for supporting a movement aimed at suppressing the rights and freedoms of others. Kolovrat played at a neo-Nazi event in central Bohemia in January and Mr Gerasimov was arrested several days later. Other members of the Moscow-based skinhead band had already left the country when Mr Gerasimov was arrested. The head of a Czech anti- extremism police unit was quoted by the CTK news agency as saying that Mr Gerasimov had neo-Nazi propaganda on his person when he was arrested and that, while in the Czech Republic, the band performed songs with racist lyrics.

Another Finance Ministry official sacked for allegedly having collaborated with the Communist-era secret police (StB)

A high-ranking official in the Ministry of Finance suspected of having collaborated with the Communist-era secret police, the StB, will be forced to step down. The official, a department head at the ministry by the name of Karl Bidlo, allegedly provided a cover address for the use of the secret police and was known by the code-name "Monet." Mr Bidlo is currently on holiday in France and could not be reached for comment. This is the second time in recent months that a high-ranking official from the Finance Ministry has been alleged to have been a former StB collaborator. Under the Czech Republic's lustration, or vetting, law, StB collaborators are banned from holding high-ranking posts in the public administration.

Returning Czech military police from Iraq and SFOR soldiers receive medals for service

Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka on Friday awarded overseas service medals to 97 military police officers who had been deployed in Iraq as well soldiers returning from the territory of the former Yugoslavia, who had served with the U.N. peacekeeping force SFOR. Five of those who served were also awarded the Cross of Merit. The military police contingent was deployed in southern Iraq from April to June this year. They trained over 2,000 Iraqi police officers and police instructors. The Czech military contingent served mainly in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Czech mezzo soprano Magdalena Kozena and British conductor Sir Simon Rattle publicly acknowledge relationship

Czech mezzo soprano Magdalena Kozena, one of Europe's most sought-after classical vocalists, has left her husband, French baritone Vincent Le Texier, and will move from Paris to Berlin to live with her lover, Sir Simon Rattle. After numerous reports about their relationship appeared in the tabloid press, a spokesman for the couple confirmed for the German paper Bild that the two artists were together and said the pair's spouses were aware of the situation, but would not comment further. Sir Simon, currently the artistic director of the Berlin Philharmonic, is considered to be Britain's foremost conductor.

Weather

Saturday should be slightly cooler than in recent days, with highs of about 27 degrees Celsius. Scattered thunder showers are likely throughout the country.

23-07-2004