News

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PM to dismiss Cunek only if ruling coalition is not threatened

Civic Democrat Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is willing to dismiss Christian Democrat leader Jiri Cunek from his posts in government only if he has the backing of Mr Cunek's party. The Prime Minister reacted to Saturday's resolution passed by the Greens, who are in government with the Civic Democrats and the Christian Democrats, calling for Mr Cunek to either resign or be dismissed.

Minister Cunek is the only government member in the country's history to face criminal charges. Besides allegations of corruption, he also faces criticism for a number of controversial remarks he has made about the country's Roma community. In a Sunday TV discussion programme, Prime Minister Topolanek said although the time had come for Jiri Cunek to leave government, he did not want to take any action that could threaten the stability of the ruling coalition.

Critic of Bursik elected deputy chairman of Green Party Council

The Green Party's national council has elected Matej Stropnicky - one of the biggest opponents of party leader Martin Bursik deputy chairman of the council. Mr Stropinicky has been accusing the head of the party of failing to consult government talks with other party members and not backing calls by Green Party members to hold a referendum on the proposed stationing of a US radar system on Czech territory.

The council has also elected Dalibor Strasky as chairman and Jana Drapalova as deputy chairman.

Sunday marks Holocaust Memorial Day

As Sunday marked Holocaust Memorial Day around the world, the six million Jewish victims of Nazism as well as the heroic men and women who fought against the Nazis were commemorated on Prague's Namesti Miru Square. The square is located in the Vinohrady district, which had the highest number of Jewish residents before WWII. At the commemorative event, the names of those who perished were read out and an electronic database and literature on Holocaust victims reminded passers-by of the persecution suffered by the Jews.

Fire fighters battling extensive forest fire near Czech-German border

Fire fighters are busy trying to put out an extensive forest fire that started close to the north-western town of Chomutov, near the Czech-German border. Several dozen German fire fighters assisted their Czech colleagues until Sunday afternoon. Although the fire has been contained, it will most likely not be put out on Sunday. What started the fire that has already damaged five hectares of land has yet to be determined.

IMF to review government public finance reform package

The International Monetary Fund, IMF, intends to review the Czech government's public finance reform package. According to Czech National Bank vice-governor in Washington, Ludek Niedermayer, the IMF is particularly interested in the proposed new fiscal policy because the state of the national budget is the most sensitive part of economic development. Fiscal reform is also a condition for discussion on the adoption of the euro to start.

The government's proposed reform plan is to be presented to parliament in June, where support for the package of ambitious tax reforms and spending cuts is not guaranteed.

Poll: most Czechs oppose government fiscal reform plan

Most Czechs agree that the country needs fiscal reform but oppose the government's proposed plan, an opinion poll commissioned by Czech TV suggests. In the poll, conducted by the STEM agency, only 24 percent of respondents support the tax reforms and believe that the new plan hinders people from abusing sick leave benefits. The poll also indicates that less than one fifth of the population think that it would benefit from the reform package.

Cabinet to discuss proposed amendment to road traffic law

Cabinet, at its session on Wednesday, is expected to discuss an amendment to the road traffic law that lowers a number of penalties, criticised as exaggerated. Under current law, for example, drivers and even cyclists who cause an accident and injure themselves only are penalised. The amendment proposes to do away with the penalty. Under the current law, drivers who park in a spot for people with disabilities are fined and lose their license. The amendment proposes to punish the drivers with a fine only.

Miss Czech Republic 2007: Eighteen year-old Katerina Sokolova

Eighteen year old Katerina Sokolova has been crowned Miss Czech Republic 2007. The brunette secondary school student from the town of Pruhonice near Prague also won the Miss Silhouette title on Saturday. One of her priorities, she says, will be charity work with the aim at improving care for the elderly. Sokolova also hopes to be able to finish school. Twenty-one year-old Veronica Pompeova from the Bohemian town of Jesenice is first runner-up and Miss Elegance, while 20 year-old Veronika Chmelirova from Znojmo, South Moravia, is second runner-up and also Miss Congeniality.

The beauty and talent show's rival, Czech Miss, was held two months ago and was won by 19 year-old Lucie Hadasova from the town of Straznice.

Beauty queen's crown auctioned off for 1 million crowns

On a related note, the crown of Miss Czech Republic 2007 has been auctioned off for one million Czech crowns. Slovenian national Loris Pozar bought the crown as well as that of Miss Congeniality for a total of 1.2 million. But it will not be another two months before Mr Pozar will have the crowns delivered because they are still being made. The original crowns were stolen before the show; the crowns worn by the contestants on Saturday were borrowed from last year's winners. The proceeds from the auction will go to a children's home.

Weather

It is expected to be sunny with cloudy intervals around the country. Day-temperatures should range between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius.