The leader of the opposition Social Democrats says a planned agreement with the government on the running of the Czech Republic’s European Union presidency represented neither a truce nor a tolerance pact. Jiří Paroubek said the agreement only covered some aspects of European policy, not Czech foreign policy as a whole, and not domestic politics at all. He said the Social Democrats would not support any government bills which contravened their own policies. Mr Paroubek also said he could not guarantee his party would not table a vote of no-confidence during the six-month EU presidency. The Czech Republic takes the helm of the 27-member bloc on January 1.
The Ministry of Finance is ready to allow Czech betting companies to operate on the internet for the first time, the newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes reported. The five biggest betting firms in the country had petitioned the ministry to allow the change, saying they were losing huge amounts of money to internet gambling sites based in other states. A spokesman for the Finance Ministry said, however, that no final decision had been made on the subject.
The Railways Inspectorate has filed a complaint against the Ministry of Transport for allegedly manipulating the selection process to find a new boss for the state body, Prima TV reported. The position’s current holder, Roman Šigut, said the Transport Ministry was trying to install somebody who would cover up for things in a way he was not willing to do. The Railways Inspectorate had previously accused Transport Minister Aleš Řebíček of trying to influence the investigation of a train crash, a charge denied by the minister.
Local representatives in Prague 3 are calling for a new line of the city’s underground rail network to reach their district, as originally planned, the newspaper Lidové noviny reported. A project to build a “D” line envisages five stations in Prague 3’s Žižkov district. However, there have been suggestions it could instead end at Náměstí republiky in the centre of the city. A Prague metro representative said no decision on the matter had yet been made.
A survey carried out by the operators of Prague’s metro system last month found that over a million people use it every day, a spokesperson said. Nearly 1.2 million people used the metro on November 12, a 5 percent increase on the last such survey conducted in 2004. The busiest station was I.P. Pavlova, which was used by 118,000 people. Just 10,000 fewer used the second busiest station, Dejvická.
Around 150 extremists and other people opposed to conditions in a district of Litvínov largely populated by Romanies held an unauthorised march on Saturday. The north Bohemian town saw running battles between hundreds of neo-Nazis and the police last month. Meanwhile, a group of anarchists held a demonstration in Prague against racism.
Ten thousand people have signed a petition calling for the preservation of Ježíšek (Baby Jesus) and other Czech Christmas traditions. The petition was started by a group of students who fear Czech children will become confused by the figure of Santa Claus, which has no tradition in this country. A “Save Baby Jesus” demonstration will be held at the Office of the Government next Friday, with some protesters expected to come dressed as snowmen.
The Czech Republic have been knocked out in the semi-finals of the Floorball World Championships, after losing 4:2 to Finland in front of over 10,000 fans at Prague’s O2 Arena on Saturday. The Czechs twice cancelled out a two-goal deficit only to see their opponents score again. On Sunday they will take part in a game to decide third place against the losers of a match between Sweden and Switzerland.
Tomáš Verner has finished fourth in the final of the figure skating Grand Prix in Gojang, South Korea. The reigning European champion had come fifth in the short programme on Friday, improving his overall position with a result in Saturday’s freestyle which fell 18 points short of his personal record of 137.31. It was Verner’s first appearance in the figure skating Grand Prix final.