Insight Central Europe News

23-12-2005

Poland's new President Lech Kaczynski was sworn in Friday to officially succeed Aleksander Kwasniewski as head of state. Elected on October 23, Kaczynski was invested at a joint session of both houses of parliament in a ceremony broadcast live on several TV networks. The president's identical twin brother Jaroslaw heads the minority ruling Law and Justice party.

Earlier, outgoing president Kwasniewski said flights operated by the CIA may have stopped over in Poland but denied that prisoners were secretly held in the country. US group Human Rights Watch has said Poland was the CIA's main base in Europe to interrogate terror suspects, while US television network ABC said Washington had detained 11 senior Al-Qaeda members in Poland.

Former Nazi commander Ladislav Niznansky was acquitted of murder by a German court on Monday after it found that his role in the massacre of 164 civilians in what is now Slovakia could not be proven. The prosecution had demanded a life sentence, saying Niznansky ordered the killing of civilians, many of them Jewish, in early 1945. The mayor of Ostry Grun, one of the villages where the killings took place, expressed disappointment in the German justice system.

The lower house of the Czech parliament has passed a bill which will bring and end to rent regulation in the country. State-controlled rent should increase by 14.2 percent annually between 2007 and 2010. Some 750,000 flats in the Czech Republic have controlled rent, which is about one fifth of all apartments in the country. At present, a dual system exists with the market rent of an identical flat in the same apartment building being several times higher than that of one subject to control.

A majority stake in Budapest Airport, the Hungarian capital's hub, has been bought by Britain's BAA group. BAA placed the highest bid of 2.15 billion US dollars in what is Hungary's largest privatization yet.

The Hungarian international football team will get a chance to repeat history when it becomes the first team to play England at the new Wembley Stadium in London next May. Hungary, inspired by striker Ferenc Puskas, were the first non-British team to beat England at the old Wembley, when they triumphed 6-3 in 1953.

23-12-2005