Outgoing Agriculture Minister Petr Zgarba will remain a candidate on the Social Democratic ticket

Outgoing Agriculture Minister Petr Zgarba has withdrawn his name for consideration as a regional election leader for the ruling Social Democratic party. He was recently nominated to lead the party ticket in Vysocina region despite allegations of corruption at a state body under his control. The board of the Czech Land Fund, of which Zgarba was chairman, was dismissed last week under suspicion of having passed on inside information to land speculators. Mr Zgarba denies any wrongdoing, but will is to step down as Agriculture Minister this Wednesday for failing to prevent questionable property deals from going through during his tenure. Mr Zgarba will remain a candidate in the 2006 parliamentary elections.

Junior coalition Christian Democrats rename Kalousek party leader, finalise 2006 election list

In other political news, the Christian Democrats, a junior coalition party, have approved their final list of regional election leaders in the 2006 contest. Among the most high-profile candidates are the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cyril Svoboda, who will lead the party ticket in the region of Prague, and political independent Jaromir Drabek, the chairman of the Economic Chamber, who will lead the contest in Liberec. Miroslav Kalousek, who was re-elected party leader on Saturday, will head the list of candidates in South Bohemia and first deputy chairman Jan Kasal will lead the contest in Vysocina.

Ostrava hospital ordered to apologise for sterilisation of Roma woman, 80 such cases pending

A regional court in Ostrava has ordered a local hospital to apologise to woman who was sterilised without her consent, the news agency AFP reported. The decision Friday was the first to deal with around 80 complaints by Roma women. A judge ruled that the complainant, a 22-year-old Helena Ferencikova, had not given her qualified consent from the procedure -- a violation of her personal rights. Hospital doctors said the sterilisation was carried out for health reasons and that noted that she signed a letter agreeing to the procedure. Ms Ferencikova said she was in the throes of birth pains at the time and was unaware of the letter's contents. An investigation by the Czech ombudsman's office has found no proof of a campaign of "systematic sterilisation" against the minority group.

Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, in Sarajevo, pledges support for Bosnian EU membership bid

Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, on an official visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina, said his country was looking to play a more active role in the Balkans. He also promised Bosnian Prime Minister Adnan Terzic help from Czech experts in that country's eventual bid for membership in the European Union. Mr Paroubek said that a Prague seminar on investment possibilities in Bosnia-Herzegovina would be held in the coming months.

Former president Vaclav Havel says he is at work on a new play, his first since 1988

Former president Vaclav Havel has said he is hard at work on a new play. His last wrote a play in 1988, the year before the Velvet Revolution which swept him into office. Mr Havel stepped down as president in February 2003. Before entering politics, he wrote fifteen plays for the theatre. Mr Havel said that, like "all of his previous work," the new play would explore the nature of human identity and address themes of morality and accountability.

Prague-built replica of Elizabethan-era Globe theatre burnt to the ground

A replica of England's famous Elizabethan-era Globe theatre burnt to the ground on Saturday. The round wooden structure, a faithful duplicate of the theatre where many of William Shakespeare's plays were first performed, was built on the Holesovice fairgrounds of Prague in 1999. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.


Partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the single digits is the forecast for the coming days.