Insight Central Europe News

Second tape leaked with Hungarian Socialists' controversial comments

Hungary's political crisis took a new turn on Sunday with a second tape of controversial comments by a top ruling Socialist. The tape was leaked just three weeks after the prime minister said in a previous one that his government had lied to its citizens. The latest leaked tape involves an attempt by a minister in Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany's Socialist-led government to reassure the party it would keep control of regional development funds despite opposition gains in the recent local elections.

Meanwhile, protests on the streets of Budapest continue with thousands of Hungarians calling for Mr Gyurcsany to step down. Despite the anti-government rallies and protests by farmers in the countryside, Prime Minister Gyurcsany won a confidence vote on Friday.

Over 20,000 people take to the streets of Warsaw to voice political opinion

Over 20,000 people also took to the streets of Warsaw on Saturday to take part in three separate political rallies. The Blue March was staged by the opposition Civic Platform under the slogan "Enough of the Kaczynski's - We want elections" and managed to rally up some 11,000 people. To counter the protests, the ruling Law and Justice Party gathered 8,000 supporters, while its junior coalition partner the League of Polish Families staged its White Rose March with around 2,000 participants.

Civic Democrat government loses confidence vote in Parliament

In the Czech Republic, the minority Civic Democrat government of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has not survived a vote of confidence in the lower house. In the 200 member lower house ninety-nine deputies voted against the government, ninety-six voted in favour and five were not present. Prime Minister Topolanek said his cabinet would most likely resign in one week from now at its session on Wednesday October 11th. He said his party would continue to push for early elections.

Poland attempts to mend fences with Russia but raises wrong flag

Poland attempted to mend fences with Russia, angry at proposals to locate a US anti-missile system in the country. Polish officials assured Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on his visit to Warsaw that the base would not be directed at Russia, but Mr Lavrov said he remained concerned about the plan. The system would count on rockets being fired from a base in Central Europe to intercept ballistic missiles. Mr Lavrov's visit to Warsaw was overshadowed by two diplomatic faux pas - Polish officials accidentally raised the Czech flag to welcome the Russian minister, and an official Polish translator had to be replaced after an attack of nerves.

Fico - Slovak troops to leave Iraq by February

Meanwhile Slovakia's prime minister Robert Fico also visited Warsaw this week, and chose the occasion to announce that Slovak troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by February. Mr Fico said that Slovakia's 100-man company of sappers would be used to reinforce the Slovak contingent serving in Afghanistan. This week NATO took full control of security in Afghanistan, five years after the US-led invasion.

Gay couple in Slovenia becomes first to register partnership

A gay couple in Slovenia became the first to register their partnership under a new law, but said they would sue the state for discrimination because they are denied all the rights of heterosexual married couples. Mitja Blazic and Viki Kern registered their partnership in Ljubljana's City Hall on Tuesday, but complained afterwards that the process reflected the Slovenian state's attitude to gay couples. Mr Blazic, head of the Society for Integration of Homosexuals, told waiting reporters that the registration process took just four minutes and was held in a room so small family and friends could not attend.

Former Czech president Havel celebrates 70th birthday

The Czech Republic's first post-communist president - playwright and former dissident Vaclav Havel - celebrated his 70th birthday on Thursday. More than 1,000 well-wishers crowded into a deconsecrated church - now home to Mr Havel's Prague Crossroads cultural centre - to celebrate the event. Guests ranged from stars of Czechoslovakia's 1970s underground rock scene to Poland's former president Alexandr Kwasniewski and the British playwright Sir Tom Stoppard.