News

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Cunek's position untenable in government, says prime minister

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has said it is untenable for Jiri Cunek to remain in the government. Mr Topolanek told the daily Hospodarske noviny that an investigation into alleged bribe-taking by Mr Cunek was damaging the whole government. The prime minister said he would offer to reinstate Mr Cunek in the posts of deputy prime minister and regional development minister if he proved his innocence.

On Tuesday the two men are due to discuss the situation with the leader of the third party in the coalition, the Greens.

Government agree on 15-percent income tax rate

Meanwhile, the governing coalition has agreed to introduce a flat 15-percent income tax rate from the start of next year. Prime Minister Topolanek told Hospodarske noviny that it and other changes to the tax system would benefit all Czechs, though he did concede that the middle classes would save the least. His government is set to present an entire package of tax and social welfare reforms next week.

Football squad fined for excessive partying

The Czech football squad have been fined a million CZK (almost 50,000 USD) for rowdily celebrating the birthday of player Tomas Ujfalusi after a game on Saturday. Team captain Tomas Rosicky said the fine had been deserved and admitted the players had been drinking. However, tabloid allegations that there had been prostitutes in the players' rooms have been denied. The Czech manager Karel Bruckner said he had considered resigning over the incident.

Zelezny trial begins in Prague

The trial of Vladimir Zelezny began at Prague City Court on Monday. Mr Zelezny, who is now a member of the European Parliament, faces charges of harming a creditor, the company CME which owns TV Nova, of which Mr Zelezny was general director. He himself failed to appear, saying he had to attend a session of the European Parliament. Three of Mr Zelezny's lawyers are also on trial.

Farmers protest on Austrian border against pork imports

Czech farmers held a protest at a border crossing with Austria on Monday against the import of Austrian pork. Around 200 farmers took part in the demonstration, which lasted from around 11 am to noon. They say pig farming in the Czech Republic is under serious threat as supermarket chains buy meat from abroad, driving down prices in this country.

Rath cleared of falsely accusing MEP Ouzky of corruption

Former Social Democrat health minister David Rath has been cleared of falsely accusing Civic Democrat MEP Miroslav Ouzky of asset-stripping the VZP public health insurer. Mr Ouzky had been seeking half a million crowns in damages and an apology from Mr Rath. He said he would appeal the verdict. Previously Mr Rath had lost a similar case taken by Milan Cabrnoch, also an MEP and a former business partner of Mr Ouzky's. Mr Rath has appealed that verdict.

Electrician commits suicide rather than go to jail for killing wife

An electrician committed suicide by electrocution at the time he was due to go to prison for killing his wife by the same method, TV Nova reported. Cheb man Karel Hanza had received a 12-year sentence for killing his wife, reportedly after an argument about a television programme she was watching.

Monument to 17th-century Czech artist Hollar unveiled in London

Former Czech president Vaclav Havel and the speaker of the British House of Commons, Michael Martin, unveiled a monument to the 17th-century Czech artist Vaclav Hollar in London on Monday. Known in the UK as Wenceslas Hollar or Wenzel, the renowned etcher moved to the city after his family were ruined during the Thirty Years' War. Mr Havel said Hollar linked Prague and London, adding that he found it interesting to compare today's London with that portrayed by the artist.

Bicycle production in Czech Republic increases significantly

The manufacture of bicycles in the Czech Republic is on the rise after several years of decline, Mlada fronta Dnes reported. While in 2002 50,000 bicycles were made in this country, last year six times as many were produced. The paper said the upturn had followed the introduction of a European Union customs levy aimed at protecting EU firms from cheap imports from Asia.

Weather

It should remain quite sunny over the next few days, with temperatures of up to 16 degrees Celsius.