Insight Central Europe News

Kaczynski tries to allay fears in Brussels over Polish policy

Poland's prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski chose Brussels as the destination for his maiden foreign trip, in an effort to allay European Union fears about his government's stance on gay rights, the death penalty and economic protectionism. Mr Kaczynski called on the EU not to believe in the myth of an anti-Semitic, homophobic and xenophobic Poland. EU officials had earlier rebuffed President Lech Kaczynski - the prime minister's twin brother - for backing the death penalty, which the bloc effectively outlaws.

Hungary's PM condemns "atrocities" against Hungarians in Slovakia

The prime minister of Hungary, Ferenc Gyurcsany, condemned a rise in what he called "atrocities" against ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia, when a Hungarian girl was beaten up after being overheard speaking Hungarian on her mobile phone. The Slovak government denounced that and other recent attacks, but also called on Budapest to tone down its rhetoric over the issue and co-operate in eliminating tensions between the two countries.

New Czech government appointed but future remains unclear

The Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, is due to appoint a new government led by Civic Democrat chief Mirek Topolanek on Monday. However, it is not clear if the naming of a new cabinet will bring a real end to the deadlock which has gripped Czech politics since inconclusive elections in June - Mr Topolanek wants his government to rule until early elections, but may not receive the support from other parties to bring that about.

Walesa snubs Solidarity celebrations

Polish democracy icon Lech Walesa on Thursday snubbed the Solidarity trade union he led to victory over communism, refusing to attend ceremonies for its 26th anniversary. Mr Walesa said the union was now a pale shadow of the freedom movement it had been in the 1980s, and criticised its close ties to Poland's ruling Law and Justice Party.

Prague pulls plug on Louis Vuitton party on Charles Bridge

Authorities in Prague pulled the plug on an event planned by Louis Vuitton on the city's famous Charles Bridge. The fashion company had planned a two-day party on the bridge, including a performance by the pop singer Madonna. After a public outcry, Prague City Hall voted to ban the event and offered Louis Vuitton an alternative venue.

Hungarian thieves steal tapes of new BBC drama production

Thieves in Hungary have stolen some tapes of a new BBC production of Robin Hood, stalling completion of the series. Britain's Daily Mirror reported that the tapes were the only copies, and said the thieves were demanding almost 2 million USD for their return. The company producing Robin Hood, which is being filmed in Hungary, said they were doing all they could to recover the tapes.