The Czech Republic has welcomed Ukraine's Supreme Court decision to annul the results of Ukraine's bitterly disputed presidential election. The original poll, thought to have been rigged, had been criticised by foreign politicians, including Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, and former Czech president Vaclav Havel. On Friday Ukraine's Supreme Court said the country would see a new run-off with the original two candidates, opposition figure Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, by December 26th. A statement on the Czech Foreign Ministry's website released in reaction to the decision congratulated the Ukrainian people while welcoming the fact that Ukraine had dealt with its crisis independently, relying on democratic and constitutional means.
State attorney Josef Blaha has extended the deadline for police to complete an investigation in the so-called "Koristka affair", an alleged bribery case in which government MP Zdenek Koristka claimed he had been offered a bribe of ten million crowns - and a diplomatic post - if he helped bring down the government in a confidence vote during the summer. The MP has claimed he was offered the bribe by a lobbyist and an assistant connected to the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party. Currently, police are expected to wrap up their investigation by January 5th.
The Czech crown reached a historic high on Friday at the rate of 23 crowns to the U.S. dollar. A specialist for the economic web-site Patria on-line said the dollar has continued to weaken against the euro.
The Czech power giant CEZ has won a public tender for the privatisation of one of Romania's two main distribution companies, Electrica Oltenia. Germany's E.ON has won the acquisition of Electrica Moldova, the Romanian Ministry of Economy and Commerce has announced. The Romanian government is selling its 24.6% stake in each distributor, but the new owners are required to raise their stake to 51% through a share capital increase. CEZ is 67.6% owned by the Czech state and is also focused on privatization deals in Slovakia and Bulgaria.
The multinational concern Lasselsberger has been given the go-ahead to build a cement works in Stramberk, north Moravia, creating 130 new jobs in a region with a high unemployment rate. Construction is expected to begin in the first half of 2005. The project had been on the table for about three years but protests from several environmentalist groups delayed decision on the project. Earlier, an appeal was rejected by the Environment Ministry. As it stands the he new cement plant could start operations in 2006, reaching full capacity in 2007.
The European Union's statistics office, Eurostat, has rated the Czech Republic 22nd out of 32 countries in Europe, based on countries' GDP. Luxembourg finished atop the list, followed by Norway, and Ireland. The bottom three finishers were Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey, respectively.
The European Parliament has authorised Austrian representative, Maria Berger, to begin a fact-finding mission concerning Czech member of the European Parliament Vladimir Zelezny, after a Prague court asked that Mr Zelezny be stripped of parliamentary immunity. Czech officials are looking to summon Mr Zelezny to court in connection with an alleged case of customs fraud, in which Mr Zelezny may have failed to declare a number of valuable paintings brought into the country.
The country's highest administrative court has annulled senate election results in Prague 11, after finding substance in a complaint put forward by one of the beaten candidates, that his opponent's campaign had not been run in a fair and honest manner.
An exhibit featuring some 300 nativity scenes - including rare showpieces - has opened in the north Moravian city of Ostrava. Visitors will be able to see such rare exhibits as a mining-themed nativity scene that depicts a replica of a hoist tower and uses various nuts and bolts and other metal objects to represent traditional nativity figures. Other exhibits have been crafted from non-traditional materials like ceramics and even glass.
Czech swimmer Martin Kovar has been named Czech Paralympian of the year. The swimmer won three gold medals and set new world records at the Paralympics in Greece this year in 50,100, and 200 metre disciplines.
The award ceremony was held at Prague Castle's Spanish Hall.
It has been announced that Czech race-driver Roman Kresta will drive for 2004 runners-up Ford in next year's world rally championship. The 28-year-old will become team-mates with Finland's Toni Gardemeister, who signed a one-year contract with Ford last week.
The weather over the coming days is expected to be cloudy and dry with daytime temperatures between just 1 and 3 degrees Celsius.
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