News

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Social Democrats launch campaign against Civic Democrats

The Social Democrats have launched a campaign that accuses the Civic Democratic Party of having made false promises ahead of last year's general elections. With new billboards and ads, the party says the Civic Democrats - the senior partners in the governing coalition - tricked and deceived citizens. Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, for example, is accused of only lowering taxes for the wealthy; Labour and Social Affairs Minister Petr Necas is criticised for lowering parental benefits; and Health Minister Tomas Julinek is attacked for making children and pensioners pay for visits to the doctor. The main motto of the Social Democrats' campaign is: "The government is working against you."

Police chief Husak may be considering resignation

Czech Police chief Vladislav Husak says accusations against him are so serious that he will either be dismissed or will resign himself. Mr Husak is accused of having warned key suspects in a number of corruption cases ahead of their planned arrest and leaked sensitive information to a Russian agent. He has rejected the allegations.

Interior Minister Ivan Langer is seriously considering Mr Husak's dismissal. Speaking on radio Impuls on Thursday, he said the problem surrounding the head of the police is affecting the entire force. Mr Langer will discuss the situation with Mr Husak on Friday.

Former party head Milos Zeman officially quits Social Democrats

Former chairman Milos Zeman has officially notified the Social Democratic Party's office in South Moravia's Nove Veseli that he is leaving the party. According to the head of the local office, Mr Zeman writes that he will under no circumstances join any other party. Mr Zeman decided to quit because he believes that current leader Jiri Paroubek initiated criminal proceedings against him over a case in which a lawyer is suing the party over unpaid fees. Mr Paroubek denies being behind the lawsuit and says Mr Zeman's resignation is a desperate attempt to influence an upcoming party conference at which a new leadership is elected.

Mr Zeman led the Social Democrats for eight years and helped make the party one of the strongest forces in Czech politics. He was prime minister from 1998 to 2002.

Social Democrats violating court ruling, says lawyer

In related news, lawyer Zdenek Altner says the Social Democrats have violated a court ruling by putting a down payment on a party conference that is scheduled for this weekend. Mr Altner, who is suing the party for over 19 billion crowns in unpaid fees, claims that a court in January prohibited the Social Democratic Party from doing anything that would reduce its assets. Mr Altner is in the process of trying to force the party to file for bankruptcy.

Prague City Hall assembly members vote in favour of hosting Olympics

Members of the Prague City Hall assembly have voted in favour of bidding to hold the 2016 Olympics in the Czech capital. On Thursday, 50 members supported the proposal, 10 members opposed it and 7 abstained from the vote. In the two-hour heated discussion that preceded the vote Prague Mayor Pavel Bem stressed that a bid will not be placed if further studies find that the Games would leave the city heavily indebted. He added that the assembly's decision is only the second of ten steps that will be taken before the city makes its final decision.

Prague has until September to make its bid and will compete against cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, Dilly, Tokio, and Rio de Janeiro.

Priest Jan Lang dies at 87

Czech priest Jan Lang has died at the age of 87 years. Father Lang was an important figure for Czechs and Slovaks in Britain, leading Czech mass at the Velehrad religious, cultural and social centre, which he helped open on London's Ladbroke Square. Jan Lang was born in the Moravian town of Rajhrad on June 20 1919 and passed away in London on Wednesday.

Missing five-year old found dead

Police in west Bohemia have found the body of a five-year old boy who had been missing since Wednesday. The body was found after an all-night search several hundred metres from the boy's home near the town of Kutna Hora. A murder investigation has been launched as the boy was found with signs of violence on his body. An autopsy on Friday is to determine the cause of death.

Vaclav Havel to hold symbolic hunger strike

Former Czech president and human rights activist Vaclav Havel will take part in a one-day hunger strike in solidarity with a Kurdish businessman who is trying to clear his name in a Czech court. In 1994, Dr. Yekta Uzunoglu was accused of torturing, kidnapping, robbing and attempting to murder two Turkish nationals living in the Czech Republic. He spent two and a half years on remand in police custody until he was suddenly released with no explanation. Several renowned Czech figures including Mr Havel and actor Zdenek Sverak have pledged solidarity with Mr Uzunoglu who has been trying to clear his name since 1995.

Civic association to file for immediate Temelin closure on Friday

A group of opponents to the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia have announced that they will file a lawsuit against the power giant CEZ on Friday. The group, which has formed an association, says CEZ is violating the law on atomic energy by operating a plant with a technical system that fails to make nuclear safety a priority. The lawsuit will call for Temelin's immediate closure.

2006 sees biggest population rise in 13 years

Last year saw the biggest population increase since 1993, according to figures released by the Czech Statistical Office. For the first time in thirteen years, the number of births exceeded the number of deaths. At the end of 2006 the population had risen by 36,000 to reach 10,287,189. Figures also suggest that the average length of survival in the Czech Republic will be six months longer than in 2005. The life expectancy at birth is currently 73.4 years for males and 79.7 years for females.

Rolling Stones to play Brno in July

The legendary Rolling Stones will stage their concert in the Moravian capital of Brno on July 22. The British rock band were scheduled to play in Brno last year but had to cancel following an injury suffered by guitarist Keith Richards. Tickets go on sale in the Czech Republic this Friday.

Weather

The next few days should be cloudy with scattered showers. Day-temperatures will range from 9 to 13 degrees Celsius.