Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has ruled out the possibility that any state body was involved in the bugging or shadowing of Josef Hojdar, the Social Democrat MP whose car phone was found to be bugged earlier this week. After a meeting with leaders from the Chamber of Deputies' defence committee, as well as the heads of Chamber commissions that monitor the secret services and police surveillance, Mr Spidla said that there were no clues whatsoever pointing to state involvement. The country's counter-intelligence service, the BIS, denies any involvement in the Hojdar case and interior and defence ministers Stanislav Gross and Miroslav Kostelka, along with police president Jiri Kolar, have dismissed the possibility of police or military intelligence involvement.
During his visit on Thursday to the Vatican, the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said that the Czech Republic had little will to sign a treaty with the Vatican that would formally establish the position of the Catholic Church in the country. Mr Svoboda added that negotiations must continue. Mr Svoboda met the Holy See State Secretary Angelo Sodano who said that the Vatican would welcome the treaty being signed by 2006. The treaty, which is to settle the position of the Roman Catholic and Greco-Catholic churches, was rejected by the lower house of Parliament earlier this year, causing disenchantment in the Vatican. The Czech Republic is one of the few European countries not to have signed a treaty with the Vatican.
A poll released on Thursday by the TNS Factum agency suggests that the junior opposition Communist Party has overtaken the senior government Social Democratic Party in the polls, and now leads the party by four points. According to the poll, the senior opposition Civic Democrats are the most popular party with 18.6 percent, followed by the Communists with 13.7 percent and the Social Democrats with 9.6 percent. The only other party to cross the five percent threshold needed to enter the Chamber of Deputies would be the junior coalition Christian Democrats with 6.7 percent. The junior government Freedom Union, currently the smallest party in the ruling coalition, would only receive about one percent of the vote.
The Czech Environment Minister Libor Ambrozek was elected the head of the secretariat of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Thursday. The Czech Republic will chair the Montreal Protocol sessions for the next 12 months. The Montreal Protocol, part of the 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, was adopted in 1987. To date, 184 countries have ratified it. The Czech Republic signed the protocol on January 1, 1993 following the split of Czechoslovakia, which signed the protocol in 1990. The aim of both documents is to restrict the production of chemical substances which deplete the ozone layer.
Friday is expected to be partly cloudy with daytime temperatures ranging from 0 to 8 degrees Celsius.
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