News

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Coalition leaders divided over possible return of Christian Democrats chairman to cabinet

There is disagreement in the governing coalition over the possible return to cabinet of the Christian Democrats leader Jiří Čunek. Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek of the Civic Democrats said on Sunday that the matter should be resolved by the Christian Democrats and the third member of the coalition, the Greens. But Green Party leader Martin Bursík said that was impossible, adding that the prime minister could not take a disengaged position. Mr Čunek insists he be reinstated as deputy prime minister and minister for regional development, after an investigation into allegations he accepted bribes was dropped. However, while Mr Topolánek has signalled a willingness to allow Mr Čunek back into cabinet, the Greens have expressed opposition to his return. A meeting of the coalition’s leaders on Thursday failed to reach agreement on the matter.

Jiří Čunek is no stranger to controversy. Most recently he made headlines for saying Romany culture was incompatible with modern society and calling for extended Roma family networks to be broken up.

Sáblíková named Czech Sportsperson of the Year

Speed skater Martina Sáblíková was named Czech Sportsperson of the Year at a ceremony in Prague on Saturday night. The two-time world and European champion finished ahead of world javelin champion Barbora Špotáková and slalom world champion Šárka Záhrobská in what was the closest poll of sports journalists since the award was created 49 years ago. Sáblíková, who is 20, is the third youngest person ever to be named Czech Sportsperson of the Year. She has achieved great success in speed skating despite the fact there is no venue for the sport in the Czech Republic; in the past she trained on frozen fish ponds.

Sobering-up stations raising charges as majority of users leave without paying

Sobering-up stations are upping their charges because the vast majority of their clients leave without paying, the Czech News Agency reported. The amount drunk tanks charge varies widely. In Kroměříž, for instance, the inebriated have to pay almost CZK 13,000 (close to USD 750) a night. By contrast in Kolín the fee is only CZK 600. Operators say many of those who avail of the service are homeless or foreigners. The world’s first sobering-up station opened at Prague’s U Apolináře hospital in 1951.

Dolejš: Communists against Klaus but not necessarily for Švejnar

The Communists want to prevent the re-election of Václav Klaus as president, though they have not yet decided whether to back his opponent Jan Švejnar, the party’s deputy leader Jiří Dolejš said on Sunday. The Communist Party is the third biggest force in the Czech Parliament and their votes, alongside those of the Christian Democrats, will play a key role in the election due on February 8. Communist leaders have previously suggested they may vote for Mr Švejnar in the first round before putting forward a candidate of their own in the next round. Mr Klaus is a former prime minister and the founder of the Civic Democrats, while Mr Švejnar has spent most of his life in the US, where he is a professor of economics.

Child welfare official: sect and sale of child abuse videos may be behind bizarre case

The director of Children at Risk fund Marie Vodičková says she believes sect activities and the sale of video of abused children may be behind a child abuse case linked to Barbora Škrlová, a woman who attempted to pass herself off as a young teenager. Speaking on a TV debate programme, Ms Vodičková said there were indications that Ms Škrlová had been abused herself as a child. The diminutive 33-year-old came to national attention when it was discovered that the woman at the centre of an apparent child abuse ring had attempted to adopt her in the guise of a 13-year-old girl. Ms Škrlová later enrolled in a school in Norway pretending to be a 13-year-old boy; the truth came to light after the “boy” reported having been sexually abused. She is now undergoing psychiatric tests while on remand in Brno. The strange case has attracted a great deal of attention in the Czech Republic and internationally.

Analysts: crown is overvalued and will weaken in coming months

Analysts believe the Czech currency is overvalued and will likely weaken slightly in the next few months, the Czech News Agency reported. The Czech crown has recently been setting new records against both the euro and the US dollar. In the immediate future the crown could make further gains, primarily because of purchases by speculators. But Komerční banka analyst Jan Vejmělek said the current strengthening was not sustainable in the long term.

Man who illegally put Simpsons Movie on web avoids jail

A 19-year-old who put the film The Simpsons Movie on the internet illegally has reached an out-of-court settlement with its Czech distributor, the weekly Týden reported. The young man from Kaplice, south Bohemia is to pay CZK 150,000 (over USD 8,500) to Bontonfilm. He had previously been sentenced to nine months in jail and fined CZK 5.5 m but reached an agreement with the distributor after making a public apology. The head of the Czech Anti-Piracy Union, Markéta Prchalová, said the case should serve as a deterrent. The illegal appearance of The Simpsons Movie on the internet received a lot of media attention in the Czech Republic because the film came out here even before it was released in the United States.

Weather

It should remain relatively mild over the next few days, with temperatures of up to 6 degrees Celsius. It will be mainly cloudy with rain in places.