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Tuesday News Briefing

Libyan Embassy flies rebel flag in Prague; Czech Republic eyes up jet fighter deal; plus the rest of today’s top news and business stories from Prague

LIBYA The Libyan Embassy in Prague put up the rebel flag over the building yesterday, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported. After denouncing Muammar Gaddafi’s regime Aug. 19, Libyan Charge to the Czech Republic Nuri al-Ghavi said the rebel flag was installed because it was not possible to serve a regime run by a dictator whose goal was to destroy major cities in his country. The Czech Republic has not yet recognized the interim national council in Libya, and Libyan organizations in the Czech Republic have said this will damage bilateral relations.

SMOKING Teplice Mayor and Senator Jaroslav Kubera (Civic Democrats, ODS) said he is against a smoking ban in restaurants that was proposed by Member of Parliament Boris Šťastný (ODS), the daily Blesk reported. Kubera said smokers are an oppressed minority and joked about having a “Prague Fume” march and turning everyone in the country into smokers. He has said the proposal to ban smoking in restaurants was hypocritical and would hurt the economic balance of the country.

COALITION TOP 09 leadership has said they will pull out of the government coalition if Education Minister Pavel Dobeš (ODS) does not remove Ladislav Bátora as a deputy, the daily Právo reported. The appointment of Bátora in the ministry has been heavily criticized because of his past in the extreme right Nationalist party. Prime Minister Petr Nečas (ODS) shot back that TOP 09 had no reservations against Bátora when he was first appointed.

Business

SAZKA At the general meeting of troubled lottery company Sazka Aug. 22, board members officially removed Aleš Husak from the post of chairman of the firm’s board of directors, a spokeswoman of Sazka’s insolvency administrator told ČTK. Lawyer Adam Silver of Dewey & LeBoeuf, the law firm representing holders of 25 percent of Sazka’s bonds, has criticized tender conditions for selling the company.

TELECOMS The ČTÚ telecoms regulatory office has decided to sell all unused mobile phone frequencies in an auction, a step that would require the office to wait until the law on electronic communications is passed in Parliament, the daily Lidové noviny reported. The ČTÚ said the sale cannot be expected until the second half of the year. Possible bidders on the frequencies include Orange, Hutchinson 3G and China Mobile.

The Czech Republic is expected to purchase a fleet of F-16 jets.

ARMS Instead of leasing supersonic fighter jets again, the Czech Republic will likely decide to buy them outright, the daily Euro reported. Lockheed Martin’s F-16 is rumored to be the favorite, and insiders told the daily that the U.S. company has Defense Minister Alexander Vondra’s support.

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