PM says willing to resign, form new government

Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has for the first time admitted he might step down to allow the formation of a new government with a different leader. Mr Gross's government currently hangs by a thread, ravaged by the loss of its majority and the resignation of five ministers and more threatening to follow after a row in the ruling coalition over the prime minister's private finances boiled over. Mr Gross offered his resignation after a meeting of his leftist Social Democrats but said he would resign only if such an agreement on a new administration could be reached with the rightist Freedom Union and centrist Christian Democrats.

Communists to link confidence vote with property statement bill

The Communist Party says it will consider backing the current government only if it links its confidence vote with a vote on a bill on property statements. The party's chairman Miroslav Grebenicek said that his Communists would only support a bill with retroactive validity. Mr Grebenicek asserted though that the coalition government has never enjoyed the Communist Party's trust. The cabinet of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross last Friday survived a no-confidence vote initiated by the opposition Civic Democrats only thanks to the abstention of Communist deputies. Urged by President Vaclav Klaus, Mr Gross last weekend pledged to ask the lower house to express confidence in his cabinet.

Telefonica acquisition of Cesky Telecom draws mixed market reviews

The acquisition of Cesky Telecom by the Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica and its further ambitions in Europe have drawn mixed reviews from market analysts, the AFP agency wrote. The ratings agency Standard and Poor's said the price of 3.5 billion dollars agreed upon for Cesky Telecom was high in light of the latter's limited growth prospects and the absence of major cost advantages. On the other hand, an analyst at the Belgian-Dutch bank and insurance group Fortis described the purchase of Cesky Telecom as a positive step in a country "that is going to be one of the principal beneficiaries" of EU cohesion funding following its admission last May to the European Union. Telefonica head Cesar Alierta last November expressed a desire "to create the world's largest and best integrated company" in the telecommunications sector.

Tens of thousands of Poles heading for Vatican via Moravia

Around 80,000 Polish Catholics heading for Italy to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II have crossed the Czech Republic's border and the traffic is now calming down. Thousands of cars and hundreds of buses crossed the Polish-Moravian borders on Thursday but there were no queues, a police spokeswoman said. According to estimates only around 3000-4000 Czech Catholics have travelled to the Vatican while around a million people from neighbouring Poland are estimated to have left for Rome.

Klaus, Svoboda to attend Pope funeral

President Vaclav Klaus and Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda will be the only Czech top officials who will join heads of state and pilgrims for the funeral of Pope John Paul II on Friday in what is expected to be the biggest gathering at the Vatican in its history. The Czech Republic will hold a day of mourning on Friday, with state and black flags flying at half mast on public buildings.

Klaus warns against attempts at "re-writing history"

President Vaclav Klaus has warned against attempts at re-writing history and changes in the perception of WWII. Addressing a crowd of former Nazi camp inmates at a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the uprising in the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald, President Klaus said that new reconciliation gestures that are being required from the Czechs place the culprits and the victims of the war on the same level or switch one for another. President Klaus urged people the be cautious of such attitudes, adding that the lessons we learn from the past will determine the future we will be living in. Painter Josef Capek and journalist Ferdinand Peroutka were among the thousands of Czechs jailed at Buchenwald during WWII.

World's smallest dog died a natural death - court

Named the world's smallest dog in 1999, a Chihuahua just 15 cm tall, died of natural causes and not medical malpractice as its owner claimed, a Czech court ruled on Thursday. The court in the eastern city of Olomouc dismissed a one million crown (43,100 dollar) damages claim by the dog's owner against a veterinarian who, she said, gave her pet an injection that left it paralysed. The Chihuahua, listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's smallest dog in 1999, had to be put down in 2000. The owner claimed the damages as a loss of earnings for the deals that had been set up for the dog, called Ondra. The judge, citing expert testimony, ruled that death was the result of a birth defect, hydrocephalus, or water in the head.


The next few days should be considerably cooler, with mostly cloudy skies, occasional rain and daytime temperatures around 10 degrees Celsius.