The Christian Democrats, a junior party in the ruling coalition government, have returned to their earlier position demanding that Prime Minister Stanislav Gross step down for failing to make fully clear how he financed his luxury Prague flat and how his wife secured business loans to buy other property. After a meeting on Saturday morning between with the Christian Democrats leader, Miroslav Kalousek, the prime minister said Kalousek's party should leave the Cabinet if its members did not trust him. Mr Gross also threatened to ask President Vaclav Klaus to sack the three Christian Democrat ministers. For his part, Mr Kalousek told the media that his party's ministers have no intention of quitting their posts. He said it was the "prime minister's scandals" that had led people to question the government's trustworthiness. Mr Kalousek said that the future of this government is danger if Mr Gross remains at its helm.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, who is also chairman of the Social Democratic Party, has said that deputy party chairman Zdenek Skromach will take formal control of the party for a few days, to allow its members to consider their position on the matter. So far the Social Democrats have supported Mr Gross. Even so, the prime minister said he feared the crisis could result in the collapse of the government. The top three leaders of all three coalition parties, the so-called "K9", are due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the situation further.
In related news, the State Attorney's Office will hand over two criminal complaints linked to the funding of Mr Gross' luxury flat over to police investigators. One complaint, filed by an unnamed resident of Teplice, in north Bohemia, accuses Mr Gross, his wife, and his uncle, of accepting bribes and of tax evasion; the latter charge is the sole charge of a second complaint, filed by a Prague resident. A third citizen filed a complaint in Beroun, central Bohemia, charging the prime minister with abuse of office. A state district attorney has said the complaints are "fairly vague" and appear to be based solely on media reports.
Fewer police were accused of committing criminal acts in 2004 than in the previous year. Men and women in police uniform committed roughly 600 crimes in 2003 and 325 last year, according to newly released information from the Interior Ministry. Observers credit a change in the law that would strip sacked police workers of their pensions. Previously, even police who had committed criminal acts were entitled to benefits unless a separate court action was taken to discontinue them. The most common crime remains the abuse of authority.
The Prague neighbourhood of Jizni Mesto may become home to the tallest building in the entire Czech Republic. Construction plans for the thirty-storey building, which would include apartments and offices, have not yet been formally approved; but, the Prague 11 town hall, which would also partially be housed within the building, is in favour of the project.
A survey by a U.S. magazine has confirmed that Czechs are among the least religious people in Europe. The Reader's Digest poll of 14 European nations found that the Polish people are the most religious, with 97 percent of those surveyed saying they believe in god. On the other end of the scale, only 37 percent of Czechs said they were religious, the lowest percentage off all nations surveyed.
Light snow fall is expected over the coming days with temperatures dropping to as low as -9 degrees Celsius overnight.
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