Daily news summary News

11-02-2005

Sixty percent of voters want PM Gross to resign, suggests poll

Around 60 percent of Czech voters would like to see Prime Minister Stanislav Gross resign from office, suggests an opinion poll published in Friday's edition of the daily Lidove noviny. Mr Gross - who for some time was one of the most popular politicians in the country - has come under increasing pressure recently, after failing to explain how he had paid for his luxury flat in Prague.

The prime minister has insisted he will not step down over the affair, which he has described as "artificial", and part of an orchestrated campaign against him. Speaking in the Lower House on Thursday, Mr Gross reiterated that he would undergo security screening in order to clear his name.

President Klaus says Gross scandal discredits Czech Republic

Speaking on Czech Radio on Friday, President Vaclav Klaus said the scandal surrounding Prime Minister Gross was "most unfortunate". This will damage the Czech Republic's credibility both at home and abroad, the President said, adding that he personally regretted the fact that this affair would make Czechs more sceptical than ever about Czech politics and politicians.

Bill on same sex partnerships rejected

The Lower House of Parliament on Friday narrowly rejected a bill on same sex partnerships. Following heated debate and several previous rejections in the Lower House, the bill was short of just one vote for approval. Representatives of the Association of Gays and Lesbians said they were disappointed but would continue to lobby for it. The law would have given gays and lesbians the right to marry, to inherit property from their partners and enquire about their partner's state of health. It would not have enabled them to adopt a child. The bill's opponents, predominantly of the Christian Democratic Party, argue that it would undermine the institution of the family in Czech society.

Forty Czech soldiers to join NATO team in Afghanistan next month

The Czech Republic is to send another 40 soldiers to Afghanistan in March, according to the Defence Ministry. The Czech troops will serve in a German-led NATO reconstruction team, and will be based near the town of Fayzabad in the north of the country; they will focus on maintaining security, protecting international units and co-operation with local people. The Czech Republic already has a 15-member Army team in Kabul; it deals with explosives and takes part in weather and geographical observation.

Flu epidemic

Doctors report a flu epidemic in seven of the Czech Republic's fourteen regions. Elsewhere there is a heightened incidence of the flu and viral infections and doctors fear that the wave of milder weather will only make things worse. People have been advised to avoid crowded places and increase their intake of vitamin C. Children and elderly people are considered particularly vulnerable. Flu epidemics have been reported from a number of European countries over the past few days.

Czech ice hockey team loses first game of Swedish Games

The Czech Republic's ice hockey team have lost their first game at the Swedish Games in Stockholm. The Czechs were beaten 3:2 by the hosts after the game went to penalties. Their next match is against Finland on Saturday. The Swedish Games are part of the four-nation Euro Hockey Tour, in which the Czech Republic are ranked third.

Weather:

The weekend is expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with scattered rain showers and day temperatures between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius. Snow showers are expected in the mountain regions.

11-02-2005