A second Civic Democrat deputy has left the ruling party’s deputies group over its handling of a blackmail and entrapment scandal involving a close associate, Vlastimil Tlustý. Jan Schwippel announced his decision on Wednesday, just two days after Juraj Raninec left the deputies group. Both men are calling for a proper investigation of the corruption scandal that has tarred the image of the largest party in government. They have made it clear though that they would continue to vote with the government, which now has 98 seats in the 200-seat lower chamber.
Mr Tlustý’s regional branch has resisted pressure from senior Civic Democrats to expel him, voicing support for him on Tuesday. Mr Tlustý played an active role in a tabloid TV sting which led to the resignation last week of another Civic Democrat MP, Jan Morava. Mr Morava was caught on camera buying staged compromising photographs of Mr Tlustý, and also gathered material with the intention of blackmailing a rebel Green Party MP.
The chairman of the Senate Přemysl Sobotka said he could not rule out the fall of the government if rebels from the three governing parties joined forces to bring it down. The corruption scandal involving two of the governing parties has further alienated the rebels who were potential targets of the blackmail conspiracy. Mr. Sobotka told reporters he was convinced that the rebels were out to destroy the government. Other senior Civic Democrats have spoken about the possibility of early elections, saying they were not prepared to beg the rebels for support. The opposition Social Democrats have indicated that they would be willing to tolerate a caretaker government which would see the country through its EU presidency, that is up until mid 2009.
Meanwhile, in what is perceived as a fresh blow to the ruling Civic Democratic Party the High Court in Olomouc has overturned a 2007 ruling which cleared two men close to the Civic Democratic Party leadership of alleged corruption. In 2004 Zdeněk Kořistka, a deputy for the Freedom Union said that Mr. Topolánek’s assistant Marek Dalík and lobbyist Jan Večerek had attempted to bribe him to bring down the ruling Social Democrat government. Mr. Kořistka lost his case for lack of evidence and was forced to apologize to the two men and pay a fine of 30,000 crowns. He appealed to the High Court in Olomouc which on Wednesday overturned the ruling, saying it had been presented with sufficient evidence of attempted blackmail.
The Status of Forces Agreement laying down the conditions for US soldiers living and working at a planned radar base on Czech soil will be signed in London on Friday. Czech Defense Minister Vlasta Parkanová and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates will sign the SOFA agreement together with a declaration of strategic cooperation. The agreement completes an initial deal Prague and Washington signed in July to base a powerful radar system in the Czech Republic to support a battery of 10 interceptor missiles in neighbouring Poland. The treaties between Prague and Washington still need to be ratified by the Czech Parliament.
The deputy governor of the Czech National Bank, Miroslav Singer, says the turmoil on world markets will lead to a marked slowing of the Czech economy and a drop in demand. In an interview for Wednesday’s edition of Hospodařské noviny, Mr Singer said some Czech brokerage firms could have problems in the wake of the financial crisis that began in the United States. He said, however, that Czech banks did not appear to be threatened. Shares on the Prague Stock Exchange have fallen to a near-three-year low, and at points trading was suspended due to sharp losses. In a two-day period over 100 billion crowns was wiped off the value of shares.
A twenty-four-year-old man has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for murdering his two-month-old baby daughter. The man is believed to have taken his fit of rage out on the sleeping child after a furious row with her mother. The baby was rushed to hospital with serious internal injuries and died the same day.
The Czech Republic's two-time Olympic canoeing champion Martin Doktor announced his retirement on Tuesday so he can become the national team coach. The 34-year-old who won the 500 metres and 1000m races at the 1996 Olympics has been handed the responsibility of coaching the team for the 2012 Olympics in London.
The Prague Stock Exchange saw a fall of 5.6 percent on Tuesday, as world
markets suffered turmoil in the wake of the collapse of one of America’s
largest investment banks and the takeover of the world’s biggest
brokerage firm. In an extraordinary move, trading in shares in real estate
company ECM and mining firm NRW were suspended as both lost over 20
of their value. On Monday the value of shares on the Prague Stock Exchange
dropped by 4 percent. An analyst from Patria Finance told the Czech News
Agency there were no signs the fall in share prices on the Prague bourse
A member of the board of the Czech National Bank, Mojmír Hampl, told Reuters that the indirect impact of the crisis on the Czech economy could be more severe than originally feared. Mr Hampl also said the fact growth estimates for Europe were constantly being revised downwards was bad news for the Czech Republic.
The Green Party has called for an internal coalition commission into a
blackmail and entrapment affair involving Vlastimil Tlustý and Jan
who are members of the biggest party in the coalition, the Civic
The latter quit the Chamber of Deputies last week after it emerged he had
bought staged compromising photos of Mr Tlustý, who had played an active
role in a sting recorded by tabloid TV station. Mr Morava also gathered
material in order to blackmail a rebel Green Party MP, Olga Zubová.
Senior Civic Democrats have been calling on Mr Tlustý (who has frequently been in dispute with them since being passed over for a cabinet post) to resign over his part in the scandal, though he says he has no intention of going. On Monday MP Juraj Raninec, a close associate of Mr Tlustý’s, quit the Civic Democrat’s deputies group over the party’s handling of the affair, which he said had not been properly investigated. He said, however, he would continue to vote with the government, which now has 99 seats in the 200-seat lower chamber.
Another of Mr Tlustý’s allies, Jan Schwippel, is also reported to be considering leaving the deputies group. He was due to hold talks with the its chairman on Tuesday, but postponed the meeting.
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