Daily news summary News

10-05-2005

New Czech PM says ratification of EU Constitution top government priority

The new Czech prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, has laid out the policy programme of his coalition government. At a news conference in Prague on Tuesday, the prime minister said its main objective would be to ratify the European Union Constitution. He said he hoped the issue would be put to a public referendum at the same time as general elections next summer. The prime minister also said he would support exports and small and medium-sized businesses.

Mr Paroubek's new government faces its first test on Friday, when it will undergo a vote of confidence. The prime minister says he is positive it will receive the backing of all 101 government deputies.

Paroubek replaces spokesperson after 'unprofessional' interview

Jiri Paroubek also presented the new government spokesperson on Tuesday: Lucie Orgonikova will replace Veronika Skorepova, a former model who was forced to resign after giving a newspaper interview which the prime minister described as unprofessional.

Communist MEP Ransdorf sued over Romany concentration camp statements

Journalist and former government human rights commissioner Petr Uhl is taking Communist Party MEP Miloslav Ransdorf to court, over statements Mr Ransdorf made about a World War II concentration camp for Romanies in Lety, south Bohemia, the daily Pravo reported Tuesday. After the European Parliament called on the Czech government to remove a pig farm that now stands on the site, Mr Ransdorf said the Lety camp had not actually been a concentration camp. Mr Uhl says the MEP broke a law against denying or casting doubt on Nazi or communist genocide.

New Czech Railways boss aiming to prevent drivers strike

Josef Bazala has been made general director of Czech Railways, a week after the resignation of Petr Kousal, the company's eighth general director in 12 years. Mr Bazala said his first task would be to push through a collective agreement with engine drivers who have been threatening to go on strike. Czech Railways have been losing money for some time, although there has been a significant fall in losses in recent years.

Cesky Telecom boss apparently shoots at wrong car after attack

An investigation has been launched into an incident involving the general director of Cesky Telecom, Gabriel Berdar. Mr Berdar was beaten up by two men outside his Prague home on Friday evening, and later while on his way to hospital fired shots at a car he believed was carrying his assailants. However, police say it is likely the car did not contain the two men who attacked him. Nobody was injured in the shooting.

Olga Havlova Award presented to mental health group

The Olga Havlova Award has been presented to a group called Zrcadlo (Mirror), which shares its experiences of mental health problems with other sufferers. The committee of the Olga Havlova Goodwill Committee also paid tribute to Kuman Vishwanathan, an Indian man who set up a "Coexistence Village" to encourage white Czechs and Romanies to live together in north Moravia. Olga Havlova, the highly respected wife of former president Vaclav Havel, died of cancer in 1996.

Weather

The next few days should be cloudy with sunny spells. Temperatures are expected to range from 10 to 18 degrees Celsius.

10-05-2005