A state prosecutor has asked for the President of the Czech-Moravian Football Association, Frantisek Chvalovsky, to be remanded in custody until his trial. Mr Chvalovsky was arrested at Prague's Ruzyne Airport on Tuesday, and charged with large-scale fraud. He stands accused of making numerous illegal transactions in his position of President of the Czech-Moravian Agrarian Association, a post he no longer holds. He is believed to have used bank loans totalling some 17 million U.S. dollars for unauthorised activities.
Prague's Municipal Court has ruled that the Czech Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, must apologise to journalist Ivan Brezina for calling him corrupt. Mr Zeman claimed in public that Mr Brezina had written articles in favour of nuclear power, and that he was paid to do so by the state-owned utility CEZ, the operators of the Temelin nuclear power station. The court said that Mr Zeman's allegations were groundless, and ordered him to apologise to Mr Brezina and pay him 300,000 Czech crowns or around 8,000 U.S. dollars in compensation. Mr Brezina complained that the allegations had damaged his reputation as a journalist.
The Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan, has called for Slovenia to join NATO as soon as possible. Speaking during a one-day visit to the country on Wednesday, Mr Kavan pledged to push for further eastwards expansion of the Alliance during the next NATO summit, which is to be held in Prague in 2002. The Czech Foreign Minister said after talks with his Slovenian counterpart, Dimitrij Rupel, that Slovakia should also receive a firm invitation for membership at the summit. The Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary joined NATO in March 1998.
The Czech lower house has approved new legislation on health insurance, which would increase money allocated to the health sector by more than three billion Czech crowns or around 80 million U.S. dollars per year. The proposal was opposed mostly by the opposition Civic Democrats, who said that health insurance companies should allocate money more efficiently before more money was pumped into healthcare. The bill, still needs to be approved by the upper house of parliament and the President.
The lower house of parliament has approved new tougher legislation to deal with sexual assault. The existing law allows the granting of prison sentences only in cases when a woman is forced to have sexual intercourse with a man. The amendment would no longer distinguish between male and female victims, and would also impose stricter sentences where minors are involved.
The Chairman of the upper house of the Russian parliament, Jegor Strojev, is currently on a three-day visit to Prague. He is to meet his Czech counterpart, Petr Pithart, Czech President Vaclav Havel and other senior state officials. The aim of the visit is to improve Czech-Russian relations, which have cooled in the eleven years since the overthrow of Communism. Mr. Strojev follows Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, who visited the Czech Republic less than a month ago. The Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan, is also expected to visit Moscow in the near future.
And the upper house has rejected proposed amendments to the law on graffiti, which would toughen legislation against graffiti sprayers. The proposal was rejected by 61 of the 72 senators present in the upper house. The amendment, submitted by the lower house, proposed that graffiti sprayers be given sentences of up to eight years in prison for more serious offences. The Senate said it was naive to fight graffiti with repressive legislation and label sprayers as criminals. The upper house called on the authorities to fight such acts of vandalism using the existing legislation.
The Czech Ice Hockey Federation (CSLH) handed down its longest-ever suspension on Wednesday, when it banned Jihlava's Marian Morava for 10 months after an illegal challenge that left Trebic's Tomas Zelenka paralysed from the chest down. The Czech ice hockey players' union has asked for Morava to be banned for life, but he has been suspended until December 31. Zelenka remains in hospital.
And finally a quick look at the weather. Thursday's daytime temperatures shall range from zero to four degrees Celsius. Thursday night is expected to be cold and overcast with scattered snow showers. Temperatures will range from minus three to minus seven degrees Celsius. And on Friday, it'll be a little warmer, although rain showers are expected, temperatures are forecast to rise up to 5 degrees Celsius.
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