News

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Communist party deputy chairman relieved of his post

The deputy chairman of the Communist Party, Vaclav Exner, has been relieved of his post. Mr Exner and another party member (since deceased) were entrusted with the legal work involving the sale of the building housing party headquarters and the acquisition of new property. After deciding to stay in the old headquarters, the party will most likely lose 60 million crowns (over 2.5 million US dollars) - a 40 million fine for not going through with the sale and a 20 million deposit to guarantee the acquisition. The party holds Mr Exner responsible, saying the contracts he had closed were disadvantageous for the party.

Turkmen authorities ground Czech military plane

Turkmen authorities have grounded a plane with Czech Army representatives, saying it was not authorised to fly over its airspace. The military delegation was returning from Afghanistan where Czech military personnel officially took over command at the international airport in Kabul. Among those on board were chief-of-staff General Pavel Stefka and deputy defence minister Martin Bartak. Turkmenistan lies between Afghanistan and the Caspian Sea.

Military ceremony in Afghanistan held under makeshift conditions

Saturday's ceremony to mark the Czech takeover of command at Kabul international airport had to be held fifty kilometres away. Due to strong invisibility, a plane carrying a Czech Army delegation to the event was rerouted to a US base in Bagram where the ceremony took place under improvised conditions.

Specialists in the Czech contingent will operate at Kabul airport for the next four months. It is the first command held by the Czechs within the ISAF. The Czech contingent is made up 47 members of the Czech Army, including specialists on air control, flight security, and logistics. In all, about 500 soldiers and specialists from about 20 NATO members and Afghanistan are serving under the command at Kabul airport.

Social Democrats ask President not to pardon Nomura managers

The Social Democrats have called on to President Vaclav Klaus not to pardon two men accused of breaking business confidentiality laws. The President has been asked to grant the pardon by the Finance Ministry as the two men are senior managers at the Nomura investment group, a bank with which cabinet settled a long running dispute that could have cost the state billions of crowns on Thursday.

Some Social Democrats want party to go into opposition

The Social Democrats are divided over whether or not to take part in a new coalition government that is being proposed by the Civic Democrats. Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek says some deputies would prefer the party go into opposition - a move he strongly rejects.

The Civic Democratic Party hopes to complete its draft government programme by next Wednesday. Representatives from the parties involved in government talks, also including the Christian Democrats and the Greens, will then be given the document for assessment.

Czech soldiers awarded US Bronze Star Medal

Two Czech soldiers from a Prostejov Special Forces unit, who recently served in Afghanistan, have been awarded with the United States Armed Forces Bronze Star Medal. The soldiers received the military decoration for their heroic fight against the Taliban. This is the first time in modern Czech history that such a US decoration is awarded to a Czech soldier.

Efforts to oppose extension of North Bohemia's opencast mines in referendum fail

A referendum held in the northern town of Litvinov on the extension of brown coal mining limits is invalid due to a low voter turnout. Only 38 percent of the electorate came to vote on Friday. An almost absolute majority (95 percent), though, voted against the extension. The geographical limits of North Bohemia's opencast mines were set by the state in 1991. The local opencast mining company Mostecka Uhelna argues that the country has no choice but to extend the limits if it wants to depend on locally produced energy.

Battle of Three Emperors re-enacted

Some forty horses, 600 guns, and 300kg of gunpowder were used in Saturday's 2-hour re-enactment of one of Napoleon's most famous victories. Visitors in the south Bohemian village of Tvarozna saw how French troops used complicated military strategy to defend Pratec hill in one of the final phases of the Battle of Three Emperors, in which Napoleon defeated the Austrian and Russian armies on December 2nd, 1805. Some 40,000 people lost their lives during the battle, which was fought in the nearby south Moravian town of Slavkov, better known by its German name, Austerlitz.

Weather

The next few days have been forecast with overcast skies and scattered showers. Daytime temperatures will range from 4 to 8 degrees Celsius but should rise steadily to reach 13 degrees on Tuesday.