Former prime minister Vladimir Spidla has been questioned by police over the Unipetrol privatisation deal that went ahead under the Social Democrat government. Mr Spidla - now an EU commissioner -was the last of a number of high-profile individuals in Prague questioned over the sale following an investigation by Polish state attorneys looking into bribe allegations. The Czech stake in Unipetrol was sold to Polish concern PKN Orlen in 2004. On Friday Mr Spidla, speaking to journalists, said he had not registered any signs of corruption or improper procedure. So far, all witnesses heard have dismissed the possibility of corruption in the sale.
Czech political parties are weighing a variety of options in government negotiations being headed by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek's right-of-centre Civic Democrats. On Friday Civic Democratic party officials met with Christian Democrats to discuss a possible "rainbow coalition" excluding only the Communists. The idea has already been rejected by the Social Democrats.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party on Friday suggested that while it would prefer supporting a centre-left government, it would be willing to agree on an interim government including all parties, provided the cabinet's main aim would be to lead the country to early elections.
A new poll released by Factum Invenio has suggested that if elections were held today they would be won by the right-of-centre Civic Democrats. According to the poll, the party would win 96 mandates in the 200-member parliament, enough to govern with any other party. The survey suggests that the Social Democrats would come in second, with 60 seats, and the Communists third with 25. The Christian Democrats and the Greens would gain 10 and 9 mandates respectively.
Representatives from Kaspch and the Czech Transport Ministry are expected to meet to negotiate on a new addendum to a road-toll systems contract, currently regarded as disadvantageous to the Czech state. A meeting is expected to take place next week. Kapsch has been developing the electronic system on highways in the Czech Republic - but the project suffered delays after the original tender was contested by other participants.
The Communist Party is reportedly at risk of paying millions of crowns in fines for withdrawing from a contract commissioning a new party headquarters in the Vysocany district in Prague. The project was to have been financed through the sale of the party's long term headquarters; but the party's executive committee earlier in the year decided against. According to earlier information, the new site was to have cost around 250 million crowns, the equivalent of around 11.5 million US dollars.
Police have revealed that seventeen people have been arrested for involvement in a people-smuggling ring that brought at least 135 illegal immigrants to Western Europe. According to reports, the illegal immigrants were from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Police continue to hold two suspects - both Indian nationals living in the Czech Republic - in custody. A police spokeswoman said it was believed that the smuggling activities had earned them an alleged 54 million crowns - the equivalent of 2.5 million US dollars, but the profit figure as well as the number of people smuggled through could be higher.
The suspected leaders of the operation face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.
A new poll released by the STEM agency asking Czechs to rate contributions by Czech politicians over the last 16 years has rated Presidents Vaclav Havel,Vaclav Klaus, as well as the late culture minister, Pavel Dostal, highly. Mr Dostal lost his battle to cancer last year. Each of the three received more than 60 percent positive response from around 1,500 people queried. Politicians rated least favourably in the poll included former prime ministers Vladimir Spidla and Stanislav Gross.
The weekend is expected to see rainshowers with daily highs of just 6 degrees Celsius.
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