These were the headlines, now the news in more detail.
The shadow cabinet Minister of Trade and Industry, Vlastimil Budinsky, has described the removal of the entire board of directors and the supervisory board of the Czech energy giant CEZ, as yet another step towards destabilisation of the Czech industry and its key companies. He dismissed as ridiculous the explanation given by the deputy minister, Milada Vlasakova, who said yesterday that the shake-up in CEZ was carried out in order to cut down the company's operational costs. Budinsky also suggested that the appointment of Milan Cerny as the new chairmen of the board, would effectively lead to selling out the Czech energy industry to foreign capital. Cerny's appointment, which was announced yesterday, was supported by the National Property Fund, the majority shareholder in CEZ. The shadow minister Budinsky has also pointed out that the Social Democrats didn't communicate their decision to remove CEZ's board of directors to its governing partner, the ODS party.
The chairman of the Social Democratic party's parliamentary club, Stanislav Gross, has proposed the forming of a special inquiry commission, which would help the official bodies investigate the Telecom bribery scandal. According to Gross, the first material suggesting bribery during the privatisation of the Czech communications monopoly, Telecom, and implicating several former leading Czech politicians and government officials, was supplied to the Czech government by the Dutch sources a long time ago. He wasn't sure, however, whether the government in question was the former Tosovsky government or the current Social Democratic one. In Holland, the scandal has already broken out several months ago and its investigation is in full swing, unlike in the Czech Republic. The institution of the intended inquiry commission should be discussed at the next parliamentary session. Meanwhile, according to an anonymous source, Holland would like to send into the Czech Republic a team of experts, to help the investigation.
According to an opinion poll carried out in December last year, the popularity of the governing Social Democratic party is falling. While 32.3 percent Czechs voted Social Democrats in last year's general elections, they party would now have the support of only 22.6 percent, which represents a 10 percent drop, according to the survey carried out by Sofres Actum agency. 24.2 percent of the Czech population would now give their vote to Klaus's Civic Democratic party, the ODS, putting it back to the lead. The communists still hold on to their third position, with a 12 percent support, while the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union both have 8.8 percent.
The German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, is to due arrive in the Czech Republic, on an official visit. Later in the day, he will meet his counterpart Jan Kavan and the Prime Minister, Milos Zeman. The main topics on the agenda will be the Czech EU candidacy, the upcoming membership in NATO and the events in Russia and Kosovo.
The government will be discussing the future visa policy of the Czech Republic, in order to harmonise the Czech visa requirements with the Schengen agreements and the visa requirements of the EU countries.
The leaders of the four party coalition - the Christian Democrats, the Freedom Union, the Civic Democratic Alliance and the Democratic Union, will meet today to discuss creating a third political stream in Czech politics, next to the existing Social Democratic and the Civic Democratic parties, with the possibility of forming a majority government. .
While Christmas is 1998 is history to most of us, the orthodox church is celebrating the holiday today, as the Julian calendar, observed by the orthodox, places Christ's birth on January 6, instead of December 25th, like the Gregorian calendar observed by the Catholic church.
The spring-like weather will stay with us for one more day. It will be partially cloudy, but still warm, with temperatures between 6 and 10 degrees Celsius. And that's the end of the news.
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