News

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Christian Democrats split over support for Klaus

The Christian Democratic Party is not decided on whether to back President Václav Klaus or his rival, the Czech born, US-based economist Jan Švejnar in the presidential election in February. Mr Klaus met with Christian Democratic Senators on Tuesday to discuss his bid. He said afterwards that he hoped to gain at least some of the eleven senators’ votes. President Klaus also expressed himself in support of a secret, rather than a public ballot.

Czech Army to rotate its soldiers in Kosovo

The Czech Army has begun rotating its soldiers taking part in an international peace-keeping mission in Kosovo. The first 50 members of a new contingent left Prague’s Kbely airport on Tuesday. One of its main tasks will be assisting at demonstrations in case they turn violent. The situation among local Serbs and Albanians is reported to be relatively stable at the moment. The 550 members of the new contingent are expected to stay on their mission until July 2008.

Jan Švejnar in favour of church property bill

Czech legislators across the broad political spectrum should accept the latest proposal for a property settlement between the state and the church, presidential candidate Jan Švejnar said at a press conference on Monday, after discussing the proposal with Cardinal Miloslav Vlk. Government and church representatives agreed in December on a plan for a settlement between the state and the church, whose property was confiscated during the communist regime. Under the agreement the state is to pay 83 billion crowns to churches over a period of 60 years. The state’s obligation to provide financial support to churches would then be abolished.

Former media magnate Vladimír Železný brought to court

A Prague court has started discussing the case of Vladimír Železný, former director of the popular commercial station TV Nova and a European Parliament deputy, in which he and five other men face charges of tax evasion to the tune of over 38 million crowns (some 2 million US dollars). Mr Železný is suspected of committing tax evasion while transferring his stakes in CET 21, the company that held Nova’s broadcasting licence. Mr Železný, who has been previously prosecuted in other two cases, has rejected the charges.

Communist Party to back Jan Švejnar in first round of presidential election

The Communist Party will most probably back the Czech born, US-based economist Jan Švejnar in the first round of presidential election on February 8. According to the deputy chairman Jiří Dolejš, the Communist Party is not left with any other alternative but to support Mr Švejnar, if it doesn’t want to allow only one candidate to advance to the second round. The party hasn’t made any recommendations concerning the second and third rounds.

President Klaus says he is more pro-European than anyone else

Czech President Václav Klaus said on Tuesday he was more pro-European than anyone else. He added, however that being pro-European didn’t mean “to stand to attention whenever Brussels gives the order”. Klaus made these remarks at a meeting with the chairman of the Senate Přemysl Sobotka. President Klaus said he intended to meet Senators from all the different parties. He also didn’t rule out the possibility of meeting with Communist Party deputies, whose votes helped him win the presidential elections five years ago.

Office of the President remains most trusted Czech institution

The Office of the President remains the most trustworthy public institution in the Czech Republic, eliciting the trust of 66 percent of Czechs, according to a poll conducted by the CVVM agency last December. In comparison, the Czech government was trusted by 27 percent of citizens. Parliament elicited the lowest public trust with only 21 percent of respondents considering the Chamber of Deputies trustworthy and 25 percent trusting the Senate.

Minister for European Affairs Vondra expects visa-free travel to the U.S. as of 2009

Czechs might be able to travel to the United States without a visa as of next year, Minister Alexandr Vondra said on Monday following US-Czech talks on the issue. Mr Vondra told the daily Hospodářské noviny that he expected US president George W. Bush to personally intervene in this matter during Prime Minister Topolánek’s visit to the United States in February.

Czech singer Karel Gott married in Las Vegas

The Czech pop icon Karel Gott married his long-term partner, 32-year old Ivana Macháčková, in Las Vegas on Monday. The newly-wed couple also confirmed that they were expecting their second child; their daughter Charlotte Ella was born in April 2006. The sixty-eight year old singer already has two daughters from previous relationships, but he has never been married before.

Prague stock exchange to have live broadcast studio

The Prague Stock Exchange has reached agreement with the country’s national broadcaster Czech public television on the terms under which it could broadcast live from the stock exchange building, Hospodářské noviny reported. The move is to attract more small-time investors to the market. At present the share of small-time clients in the Exchange's overall trade is about twenty percent, but their number is gradually increasing. Starting in February, the stock exchange news will run twice a day on the ČT24 news channel.

Weather

The following days are expected to get warmer, with occasional rain and snow. Temperatures are expected to reach between 0 and 5 degrees Celsius.