PM Spidla under pressure to call for vote of confidence after EU election loss

Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has said he will call for a vote of confidence among party members in his leadership after the "unfortunate" results of the country's first-ever European parliamentary elections, held this weekend. If held, it would be the fourth such vote of confidence that has been taken on the present government. The governing coalition led by Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla was soundly defeated in the EU elections; his party, the centre-left Social Democrats, placed fifth overall, capturing only 8.8 percent of the vote. Altogether the parties that make up the governing coalition - which has a razor thin majority of one in the lower house of the Czech parliament - won just 20 percent of the vote in the European parliamentary elections. The vice chairman of Mr. Spidla's party, Stanislav Gross, who is also the Czech Interior Minister, has said the government could not "ignore" the results and should "reshuffle" the Cabinet in response. Members of the main opposition party, the centre-right Civic Democrats, which placed first in the EU elections with 30 percent of the vote, have said a vote of confidence should be held in parliament next Tuesday, when the Czech legislature reconvenes.

Czech, Swedish defence ministers sign Gripen fighter lease deal

Czech Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka and his Swedish counterpart have signed a contract finalising the Czech decision to lease Gripen fighters from Sweden to replace its aging fleet of MiG-21s. The cost of the ten-year lease will be 19.6 billion crowns. As part of the deal, Sweden has committed itself to investing 130 percent of the contract's cost in the Czech Republic, 20 percent of which will be direct investments into the Czech economy. A multi-purpose simulator, a mission planning system, complete technical equipment for the jets and training for both pilots and ground personnel is all included in the deal.

Zentiva to issue shares on Prague Stock Exchange this month

The largest Czech pharmaceutical company, Zentiva, will issue shares on the Prague Stock Exchange on the 28th of June, sources close to the company told the Czech news agency. It would be the first initial public offering on the Czech bourse since trading began in 1993. All shares traded now were listed at the time of the so-called coupon privatisation process in the 1990s. Zentiva, created through a merger of Czech drug maker Leciva and Slovakofarma, is the 4th largest drug maker in Eastern Europe.

Focus magazine: Former Czechoslovak spy was double agent for the CIA

A former commander of a Nazi German army unit charged with the murder of 164 people at the end of World War II worked as a double agent for the United States, writes Focus magazine. Quoting CIA documents, the weekly reports in its latest edition that Ladislav Niznansky worked as a double agent for the CIA just after he was recruited by the Czechoslovak Secret Service in 1947 to keep tabs on the communist opposition in Austria. According to Focus magazine, he supplied the CIA with codenames, the addresses of safe houses and helped turn in agents. He was sentenced to death in absentia in 1962 by a Czech court. Niznansky, who obtained German citizenship in 1996 and is now 86 years old, was arrested in January after a probe by Czech and Slovak officials and is now in custody in Munich, southern Germany.

Czechs face Latvia in opening match of Euro 2004

The Czech football team were heavily favoured to beat Latvia on Tuesday night in their opening match at Euro 2004, the European football championship now underway in host country Portugal. The Czech national squad, runner-up eight years ago, is hoping to erase bad memories of Euro 2000 where it was eliminated after defeats in its first two games. If the Czechs defeat Lativa, they will next face the Netherlands and Germany.


Tuesday is expected to be cloudy with day-time temperatures reaching a maximum of 23 degrees Celsius.