According to a poll released by the Factum Invenio agency, the ruling Civic Democrats would defeat the country's largest opposition party, the Social Democrats, were a national election held today. The poll suggests the Civic Democrats would win three percent more of the vote, earning 33.9 percent, while the Social Democrats would get 30.7 percent.
Police are prosecuting a mayor in the Liberec area in North Bohemia for allegedly forging documents accompanying an application for an EU grant. The mayor allegedly forged and altered a building permit he needed for a project worth 38 million crowns, to be financed from EU structural funds. The man has been charged with abusing the power of a public official, forging and altering public documents, and attempted fraud. If found guilty, he could face up to 12 years in prison.
A Russian pilot and fellow crew member emergency ejected following an incident on Thursday in which the pilot apparently lost control during training of a Czech-made L-39 Albatross. The accident happened near a base in Central Russia; both men landed safely. Russian officials have not revealed additional details. L-39s - made between the years 1971 to 1999 by Aero Vodochody - are flown in training in some thirty countries around the world. The Russian Air Force is said to rely heavily on the planes for training purposes. Accidents there in the past have usually been attributed to pilot errors or poor machine maintenance.
The country's largest opposition party, the Social Democratic Party, has pledged to strike down fiscal reforms planned by the government - if approved - once the party returns to power. Party leader Jiri Paroubek said as much at a press conference on Friday, criticising the reforms put forward by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. He called them "bad" and said they would lower the living standards of 90 percent of Czechs. MPs will begin debating the government's reform package next Tuesday. The ruling parties enjoy a slim majority in the lower house, but a number of their own MPs, too, have expressed reservations on a number of reform issues.
Two senators from the Independents' Association deputies group have come out against a possible presidential bid by fellow party member and Euro MP Josef Zieleniec. Earlier this week the 61-year old former foreign minister indicated he might consider a bid if he found broader backing in Parliament. But at the moment his chances of finding support appear slim. Mr Zieleniec's candidacy, at the very least, would be opposed by the Communist Party and would also be unlikely to get support from many ruling Civic Democrats. They have already declared the intention of supporting current president and honorary party chairman Vaclav Klaus.
The High Prosecuting Attorney's Office in Prague has commissioned additional expert analysis to determine whether the leaking of a confidential dossier to the media last year was a criminal offence, write Czech dailies Lidove Noviny and Pravo. Christian Democrat MP Pavel Severa is suspected by police of having leaked the report following the meeting of a parliamentary committee. But the prosecuting attorney's office is reportedly not convinced the leak was intentional. The so-called Kubice report, presented to the defence and security committee last year by police specialist Jan Kubice, caused a stir because it suggested there were links between the state sector and organised crime. The contents of the report were leaked just days before the general election, which was won by the opposition Civic Democrats. The Social Democrats, who lost, accused their rivals of intentionally leaking the report, which they say "reversed" the election's outcome.
The Czech Republic has signed a joint statement with five other new EU states expressing disappointment over new US legislation that was meant to loosen criteria for some countries being included in the US visa-waiver programme. The signatories made clear in their statement that from their perspective the US had not gone far enough. As it stands, of the six countries which include Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Latvia, and Lithuania, only the Czech Republic would likely meet current conditions for acceptance. The joint statement signed on Thursday said the US legislation retained "artificial barriers" for close US allies; the signatories made clear they would continue seeking changes.
According to a survey by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs carried
out between 2004 and 2006, Great Britain is the most popular destination
for Czechs seeking jobs abroad, followed by Germany, Austria and Ireland.
Almost 55,000 workers from the Czech Republic registered in EU countries and Switzerland last year, out of which more than 17,000 in Great Britain. The reason for their choice is legislation, knowledge of the language, and the fact that the British labour market has been open since 2004. In comparison with other states that joined the EU in 2004, the mobility of work force in the Czech Republic is still very low.
After a pause of several months, the Czech Republic is once again allowing the adoption of Czech children by foreign couples abroad. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs banned foreign adoptions last years following the death of a three-year old Czech boy in an adoptive Swedish family due to alleged neglect. Adoptions will now be governed by stricter rules involving extensive psychological tests for both the children and their prospective parents.