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05-03-2005

PM apologises to nation for giving rise to political row

The Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has officially apologised for giving rise to a political row by some of his ill-advised statements in connection with the controversy over the way he financed his apartment. In a live address to the nation in Czech Television's evening news programme on Saturday, Prime Minister Gross also announced his wife was going to terminate all her business activities in order to put an end to the current political crisis. The Prime Minister also pledged to put forward a bill shortly which would, as he said, clarify matters related to the private finances of politicians and state officials.

Mr Gross has been under fire for several weeks over questions as to where he got money to buy his apartment six years ago, and how his wife funds her business.

PM receives confidence from party leadership, says government crisis is over

Earlier on Saturday, the Prime Minister and acting head of the Social Democratic Party, Stanislav Gross, said that he considered the government crisis, triggered by the controversies surrounding his family's private finances, to be over. In a confidence vote on Saturday morning, the Prime Minister received the strong backing of the Social Democrat leadership in a move to put to rest a row over his personal finances that threatened to topple the government. In three weeks' time Prime Minister Gross will seek election as Social Democrat leader at the party's national congress.

No change in stance on Gross by other politicians after vote

In response to Saturday's Social Democrats' confidence vote, the head of the coalition Christian Democrats, Miroslav Kalousek, said it was the Social Democrats' internal decision. He repeated that his party had given the Social Democrats until after their party conference to deal with the problem. The chairman of the third government party, the Freedom Union, Pavel Nemec, welcomed the result saying it was a positive signal for the stability of the current coalition. The deputy head of the opposition Civic Democrats, Petr Necas, said that the Social Democrats' decision does not change the fact that confidence in the government has been compromised. The opposition Communist Party said it was up to the Social Democrats how they dealt with their own affairs.

Kuchma returns to Ukraine to face questioning after ex-minister's death

The former president of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma has cut short his holiday in the Czech Republic and left for Kiev, where authorities are seeking to question him over the gruesome death of a reporter. Prosecutors want to question the former president after Yury Kravchenko, who served as his interior minister, was found dead on Friday just hours before he was due for questioning on the murder of an investigative reporter five years ago. Mr Kravchenko reportedly accused Mr Kuchma and his entourage of leading to his suicide in a note. Mr Kuchma had been vacationing in the West Bohemian spa town of Karlovy Vary.

Sebrle trails in heptathlon at European indoors

Olympic decathlon champion Roman Sebrle trailed in third place after the opening three events in the European indoor men's heptathlon on Saturday. Defending champion Sebrle, collected 2,619 points from the 60 metres, long jump and shot put on the second morning of the three-day championships.

Weather

Meteorologists warn of heavy snowfalls and high wind in the coming days. Mountainous areas can see up to 40 centimetres of new snow and the speed of wind reaching 72 kilometres per hour. Daytime temperatures around the Czech Republic should range from minus 4 to plus 2 degrees Celsius.

05-03-2005