The Czech Minister for Legislation, an independent nominated by the ruling Social Democrats, tendered his resignation on Wednesday, making good on his promise of last week to quit the Cabinet should all ministers not agree to step down en masse by this time. Jaroslav Bures is the fifth minister to resign from government in recent days.
The ministers of foreign affairs, the environment and transport -- all three Christian Democrats -- quit last week, after their party left the governing coalition of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross. They did so in protest of Mr Gross' failure to explain away allegations of questionable family business dealings. The Minister of Informatics, Vladimir Mlynar, resigned after Mr Gross survived a related no-confidence vote on Friday, thanks onlt to the abstention of Communist deputies.
Meanwhile, the ministers of justice and defence, like Mr Mlyar, both members of the centre-right Freedom Union party, have said they will remain in the government until at least next week when Prime Minister Gross is expected to decide about a collective resignation of the Cabinet.
The Czech Republic signed a contract on Wednesday to buy 24 medium-range "smart" missiles from the United States. The new weapons will primarily be used to realise the full capabilities of the new Jas-39 Gripen fighter jets that the Czech Republic has leased from Sweden. Observers say the deal, worth about $30 million U.S. dollars, should help to smooth over relations between the Czech Republic and the U.S., which had hoped to sell its NATO partner F-16 fighters, but lost out to Sweden in the multi-billion dollar deal two years ago. The U.S.-made Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) can lock on a target up to 30 kilometres away and can be used in all types of weather.
The Czech generic drug-maker Zentiva reportedly plans to take retaliatory legal steps against U.S. pharmaceuticals firm Pfizer Inc. over a cholesterol-reducing drug. Last week, a Czech court issued a preliminary injunction saying Zentiva must cease advertising its drug "Torvacard" as a cheaper, generic equivalent to Pfizer's drug "Sortis" until the case comes to court. A spokesperson for the Czech drug-maker said Zentiva has pulled its advertising campaign for now, but believes that the American company has acted in violation of both Czech and European law in seeking to prevent Zentiva's "identical" product from reaching the market.
New Zealand film-makers shooting a screen version of British author C. S. Lewis's "The Chronicles of Narnia" are facing a fine for breaching conditions negotiated with Czech authorities, Australian radio reported. A manager of the protected sandstone reservation of Labske Piskovce in Tisa where filming has been taking place, said the film crew had brought more people and vehicles on site than had been agreed, and broke a promise not to put equipment arbitrarily on sandstone rocks. The film crew could be fined the equivalent of some $4000 US dollars.
A British taxi company has begun actively recruiting drivers in the Czech Republic due to a shortage of applicants in the United Kingdom. Station Taxis, which is based in Darlington, County Durham, has even set up a training school in Prague. Three Czech drivers are now working for the British firm and another four are expected to arrive in the U.K. by the end of the month.
The forecast for the next couple of days is for more rain, with daytime highs of about 12 degrees Celsius, but the sun should be out again for the weekend.
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