Social Democrat head calls on MP who left party ranks to give parliament seat

The chairman of the Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek has called on MP Michal Pohanka who left the ranks of the party on Wednesday to give up his seat in the lower house. He alleged that Mr Pohanka was being blackmailed by the police on the orders of the ruling Civic Democratic Party. The Civic Democrats have dismissed such allegations. An internet news server on Wednesday quoted Mr Pohanka as saying he felt pressure from his own party, not the police.

The Civic Democratic Party issued a statement on Wednesday saying that whatever Mr. Pohanka's reasons for leaving the party they did not intend to exploit the situation and, as they said "rely on one turncoat". Every vote now plays a decisive role in the 200 seat lower house which is equally divided between the right and left-wing parties with 100 votes each. The Czech Republic has been without a stable government since elections in June.

Lower house approves main points of 2007 state budget

Czech lawmakers have approved the main lines of the 2007 state budget in its first reading, overcoming political stalemate which has gripped the country since June's legislative elections. The budget proposal, which counts on a deficit of 91.3 billion crowns (3.22 billion euros, 4.05 billion dollars) was backed by all the parties represented in the lower house with the exception of the Communists. The budget was proposed by the caretaker Civic Democrat government. Last-minute support was won from the second-biggest party, the Social Democrats, with a promise that further consultations would take place before the sale of any shares in Czech power giant, CEZ. The budget must go through three readings in the lower house and then be approved by the president before it becomes law.

Two Czechs suspected of drug trafficking arrested in Buenos Aires

The Foreign Ministry has announced that three young Czechs were detained at Buenos Aires international airport on Sunday on suspicion of drug trafficking. According to Czech diplomats in Argentina, several grams of cocaine were found on the men. Forty-five Czech nationals are known to have been arrested outside the country in connection with drug-related crime since January, which is the highest number in the last three years.

Czech airline CSA reports passenger increase

The Czech state-controlled carrier Czech Airlines says it carried 4.2 million passengers in the first nine months of the year, a 5-percent rise compared with the same period in 2005. The airline said the increase was largely due to highter demand on routes to Eastern Europe. CSA reported a loss of 773 million crowns (27.3 million euros, 34.3 million dollars) in the first half of the year compared with 533 million koruna in the same period a year earlier. The company is implementing a plan to break even by 2008 that includes the sale of none-core assets such as its catering division and Prague cargo terminal.

Aero Vodochody sold to Penta

The government on Wednesday approved the sale of the state-owned plane manufacturer Aero Vodochody to the investment group Penta for the price of 2.91 billion crowns. The second highest bid by the consortium PPF and JT was 1,2 billion crowns lower. Penta sees Aero's main potential in cooperating with leading world producers of aircraft and aircraft parts. It now has three restructuring priorities: development and production of aircraft and components within broader cooperation projects, construction of airport Vodochody and cooperation with the Czech army.

Koller faces weeks out after injuring hamstring again

Monaco striker Jan Koller is out for up to two months after injuring the same right hamstring that sidelined him during the World Cup finals this summer, the Czech daily Sport reports. The 33-year-old Czech international record scorer hurt his leg during Monaco's defeat on penalties to Stade de Reims in a French League Cup match on Tuesday. The 2.04-metre (6ft 7in) tall striker moved to Monaco on a free transfer from Borussia Dortmund over the summer after recovering from a serious knee injury he incurred last September. He has since scored once in 11 appearances for his new club.


The next few days are expected to be partly cloudy with some scattered showers and afternoon highs reaching 18 to 22 degrees Celsius.