The Civic Democrat MP at the centre of a murky blackmail affair has resigned. Jan Morava, who is 29, announced his resignation on Monday, a day after a report on TV Nova showed that he had been collecting compromising material on fellow MPs in order to blackmail them. His meetings with Nova journalists, who were disguised as private detectives, were recorded by hidden camera. The report also confirmed that Vlastimil Tlustý, a Civic Democrat MP at odds with the party leadership, co-operated with reporters in their investigation. Mr Tlustý posed in compromising photos with a young woman as a trap to see which fellow party members would buy the photos.
The Social Democrats want to call a vote of no-confidence following Senate and regional elections in mid-October in reaction to the blackmail scandal in the Civic Democrats, the biggest party in the governing coalition. Speaking at a news conference on Monday, the head of the Social Democrats, Jiří Paroubek, also said the upcoming elections should be regarded as a referendum on the government.
Two Czech scientists have been found guilty of illegally collecting insects in India. The court in Darjeeling has sentenced the Czech entomologists to three years in prison and a fine of about 10,000 rupees. The men’s lawyer can appeal against the verdict on Wednesday. Emil Kučera and Petr Švácha were arrested near the Singalila National Park on June 23 for collecting rare insects without a permit. The two men denied all the charges against them.
The head of the Green Party, Martin Bursík, has dismissed one-third of
the party’s national council, which consisted mainly of his opponents.
Twenty members of the national council were dismissed during the last day
of the party’s national congress on Sunday, including Mr Bursík’s
critics Dana Kuchtová and Matěj Stropnický. Mr Bursík originally
to change the party rules, which would make the national council
subordinate to the party leadership, but his proposal was not debated at
all, as the meeting was running behind the schedule.
Mr Bursík, who is environment minister and deputy prime minister, was re-elected the party’s leader on Saturday, defeating the former education minister Dana Kuchtová. Education Minister Ondřej Liška and MP Kateřina Jacques became the first and the second deputies.
Croatia’s quick entry to the EU will be one of the Czech Republic’s priorities during its EU presidency, said Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek during an official visit of Croatia. He made the statement after a meeting with his Croatian counterpart Ivo Sanader on Monday, adding that the Czech Republic also supports Croatia’s admission to NATO. Prime Minister Topolánek, who is accompanied by Industry and Trade Minister Martin Říman, has also discussed economic cooperation and trade between the two countries.
Young Czech communists have gathered over 180,000 signatures on a petition against the planned construction of a US radar base on Czech soil. The organisers will hand the sheets with signatures to the petition committee of the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday. The Communist Youth Association, which was banned by court two years ago, will continue organising anti-radar petitions and meetings.
A new opinion poll shows that the Civic Democrats, the largest party in the governing coalition, have slightly increased their preferences in August, cutting the lead of the opposition Social Democrats to 5 percent. The survey, conducted by the Median agency in August, suggests that the Social Democrats have the support of 36.8 percent of the electorate, with the Civic Democrats on 31.6 percent. The preferences of the Green Party have slumped down ahead of the party’s congress last weekend from 7 to a mere 4 percent, which is beyond the five-percent threshold to enter the lower house.
The number of tourist from EU countries visiting the Czech Republic has been falling, this year reaching the lowest level since 2000, data from government agency Czech Tourism and the Czech Statistical Office have shown. Tourists from Western Europe are being replaced by visitors from Central and Eastern Europe, mainly from Poland, Russia and the Baltic States. In the first six month of this year, tourists from western countries made up 56 percent of all tourists, compared to over 66 percent in the year 2000. Experts attribute the decrease to an economic slowdown in Western Europe and say a further drop is not expected.
The Czech team has taken two gold medals at the Paralympics in Beijing. On Sunday, Eva Kacanu came first in the F54-56 Classification women’s shot, with a record-breaking throw of 6.73 m. Cyclist Jiří Ježek on Monday secured second gold medal for the Czech Republic, when he won the men’s individual pursuit, LC 2. Another gold medal went on Monday to swimmer Běla Hlaváčová in women’s 50m backstroke.
Green Party member and former education minister Dana Kuchtová has failed in her bid to replace Martin Bursík as the Green Party’s leader. Early Saturday evening a majority of delegates at the Green Party’s congress in Teplice, gave Mr Bursík 227 votes to Mrs Kuchtová’s 109. Dana Kuchtová subsequently failed in her bid for deputy chairwoman, defeated by close Bursík ally, Ondřej Liška, the current education minister. Other deputies elected on the night were Kateřina Jacques and Martin Ander. The results of the vote are expected to quell division within the Green Party only slightly: according to analysts, members of the party remain divided on a number of issues. These include plans for a US radar base on Czech territory and ongoing reforms in healthcare.