News

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Foreign Ministry up in arms after Cuba expels Czech diplomat

The first secretary of the Czech Embassy in Havana has been given three days to leave Cuba after local authorities refused to extend his visa. The Czech Foreign Ministry has called on Cuba's charge d'affaires in Prague to explain the decision, which it regards as tantamount to expulsion. It said the move was clearly in response to the Czech Republic's policy of criticizing human rights abuses in Cuba and supporting the island state's opposition. Tensions have been high between the two countries for some years.

Svoboda refuses to answer questions in Berlin over alleged CIA flights

The Czech foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda, is refusing to appear before a German parliamentary committee to answer questions about allegations that secret CIA planes stopped over in Prague. MP Max Stadler of Germany's Free Democratic Party called on Mr Svoboda to discuss the matter in Berlin. But he said it was unthinkable for a minister of the sovereign Czech state to be questioned by German deputies. Amnesty International reported last week that over 20 CIA planes had landed in Prague, an allegation denied by both the Czech foreign and defence ministries.

Remains of German soldiers to be buried in 2008

The remains of around 4,000 world war two German soldiers are to be stored at a Czech military facility for two years, before being buried in a German cemetery in the town of Marianske Lazne. They were exhumed around the Czech Republic and have been lying in a disused factory for three years, after the German organisation behind the project ran out of funding.

Christian Democrats may fail to reach five-percent threshold in elections

The second biggest party in the governing coalition, the Christian Democrats, is in danger of not winning enough support to remain in the Chamber of Deputies. A poll by the SC&C agency suggests the party would receive only 4 percent of the vote, falling below the necessary 5-percent threshold. The Civic Democrats are expected to come first in general elections in June, followed by the Social Democrats. Polls suggest the Green Party, who have no MPs at the moment, are now supported by around ten percent of the electorate.

Paroubek challenges Topolanek to "duel"

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has made an unusual challenge to Civic Democrats chief Mirek Topolanek. Mr Paroubek sent a letter written in archaic Czech to his rival, challenging him to a television "duel" before the elections. It was delivered by an old-fashioned horse and carriage. Mr Topolanek has accepted.

Small breweries protest introduction of new bottles by large producers

Small Czech breweries have turned to the anti-monopoly office over the planned introduction of new bottles by larger beer makers. The action has been taken following suggestions that small breweries would have to buy up tens of millions of used bottles, if their bigger rivals don't agree to supply them. But Plzensky Prazdroj, one of the main producers, says that the allegations are nonsense; it said it would fulfil all its legal obligations.

Senator hoping to make Good Friday state holiday

Senator Martin Mejstrik is again pushing for Good Friday to be made a state holiday in the Czech Republic. Currently a bill on the issue also includes the scrapping of the International Women's Day as a day of national significance. But Mr Mejstrik says if that issue is dealt with separately, making Good Friday a holiday would have a greater chance of being passed in the left-dominated Chamber of Deputies.

Water traffic resumes on the Vltava as floods recede

Water traffic on the Vltava in Prague has partly resumed, following the floods which have interrupted it in the past two weeks. The river is now open to boats between the Barrandov and Jirasek bridges. But Jiri Friedl, of Vltava river management, said that more of the river will be opened depending on the weather in the upcoming week.

Weather

It should be bright with some rain over the next few days, with temperatures expected to rise to up to 17 degrees Celsius.