News

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Social Democrats to vote no to US radar base

The opposition Social Democrats say they will vote against the building of a United States radar base in the Czech Republic. Party leader Jiri Paroubek said they will also demand a referendum on the issue. The US recently asked the Czech government if it could locate the radar - part of a planned global missile defence system - in central Bohemia. So far only the biggest party in the governing coalition, the Civic Democrats, have said they will support the plan.

On Thursday Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would come up with a "highly effective" response to Washington's plan to build parts of its anti-missile system in the Czech Republic and Poland. Mr Putin dismissed claims the system would defend Europe from Iran, saying it would directly affect his country.

Czech MEP Libor Roucek and other members of the Socialist bloc at the European Parliament on Thursday sent a letter to the Council of the European Union asking it to express its position on the matter.

Prime minister apologises for making rude gesture in Chamber of Deputies

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has apologised for raising his middle finger to opposition deputies in the lower housethe website Novinky reported. Mr Topolanek made the rude gesture after the opposition benches demanded the presence of the cabinet in the Chamber of Deputies. The prime minister first said he had raised his finger at Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek, with the latter also claiming it had been directed at him. But Mr Topolanek later admitted it had been aimed at Social Democrat and Communist rivals. He said he deeply regretted the gesture.

Rebel Social Democrats MPs cross floor

Two rebel Social Democrat MPs who allowed a centre-right government to pass a vote of confidence have crossed the chamber and are now sitting with coalition deputies. Milos Melcak and Vladimir Pohanka recently moved out of offices they had been sharing with Social Democrat colleagues.

Police officer confesses to taking photo of dead composer

A police officer has confessed to taking a photograph of the dead body of composer Karel Svoboda. After Mr Svoboda committed suicide last Sunday a photo appeared in the tabloid Blesk showing the dead man's hand and a pistol. The officer, who is 22 and has been in the police for two years, was a member of the first team to arrive on the scene. Police investigators have recommended that he face charges of abuse of office.

January warmest since 1961

This January was the warmest in this country for 46 years, according to figures released by meteorologists. While the average temperature in January is usually almost 2 degrees Celsius below freezing point, last month's average temperature was almost 3.5 degrees above zero. There was only one day when temperatures were below zero around the whole country - January 26.

Those who believe people caused global warming naïve, says president's spokesman

President Vaclav Klaus's spokesman Petr Hajek has hit out at an event on Thursday evening in which lights in several European capitals were turned out for five minutes as a protest against the wasting of energy and global warming, the iDnes website reported. Mr Hajek told reporters the event was ridiculous, saying that people who believed the warnings of scientists about global warming were naïve. President Klaus has himself questioned whether human civilisation is responsible for global warming.

1928 Bata canal to be extended

A waterway known as the Bata canal is to be made longer, Pravo reported. The canal was built in 1928 by Tomas Bata, founder of the world famous Bata shoe company. It now runs from Otrokovice to Rohatec in south Moravia. Once the project wins approval from the Environment Ministry it will be extended to Hodonin, and will measure 66 km. Formerly used to transport coal, the canal is now used for water tourism.

Former head of PM's office released from custody

A Prague court has decided to release the former head of the prime minister's office Zdenek Dolezel from custody. He was remanded in October on charges of blackmail and corruption in the handling of EU money channelled via the Ministry for Regional Development. The court acknowledged the complaint of Mr Dolezel's defence counsel that he can no longer influence witnesses.

Weather

It should be partly cloudy over the coming days, with rain or snow in places. Temperatures are expected to reach up to 6 degrees Celsius.