Controversy has arisen over a judge President Vaclav Klaus has asked the Senate to approve as a Constitutional Court judge. Pravo reported on Tuesday that Pilsen regional court judge Vlasta Formankova sent a pub landlord to prison in 1980 for insulting a group of Communist functionaries and expelling them from his pub. The publican received a 10-month jail term, later shortened to six months, and the sentence was annulled after the fall of the communist system. While the judge today insists she acted correctly, the landlord's widow says it would be immoral if she was appointed to the Constitutional Court.
Czech tennis players Radek Stepanek, Jiri Novak, Tomas Berdych, Robin Vik and Eva Birnerova all progressed to the second round of the French Open in Paris on the opening day of the tournament. But the most famous Czech at Roland Garros was hockey player Jaromir Jagr, who turned out to support his friend Radek Stepanek, who is the Czech men's number one.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek says he wants to meet with the opposition Civic Democrats in order to agree on the terms of a referendum on the EU constitution. The Prime Minister said he was prepared to back the Civic Democratic Party's bill on a one-off referendum on the EU constitution on condition that the referendum was held simultaneously with the 2006 general elections. Mr. Paroubek said the Social Democrats were willing to abandon their drive for a general referendum law in order to open the way for a plebiscite on the EU constitution but he said he could not compromise on the term of the referendum, since the country could not afford to waste money on two votes within the space of a few months.
Torrential rain and hailstones have damaged homes and property in many parts of the Czech Republic. Insurance companies say they have received hundreds of compensation claims from people living in the south and east of the country. The town of Kojcice south east of Prague was particularly badly hit, with some hailstones the size of hens' eggs. Although meteorologists had warned of approaching torrential rain the locals said they had no idea what was coming. There is damage to field crops, farm animals, roads, the sewage system and even the river embankment. The damage is estimated at several million crowns in Kojcice alone.
The German regional airline Cirrus Airlines on Monday launched a new regular service between Munich and the third largest Czech city Ostrava. Demand for this destination, predominantly from business people, is relatively strong and the new service will entail two flights a day. Ostrava Mosnov is the Czech Republic's second largest airport after Prague Ruzyne.
Hospitals have warned that unless they receive more money for their work they will be forced to economize severely which could adversely affect the quality of care provided. Operations may have to be postponed, certain medicaments may be in short supply and even the quality of hospital food could be affected, a spokesman said. The heads of hospitals from across the Czech Republic met in Prague today to discuss their problems and let the government know just how serious the situation is. Health minister Milada Emmerova has promised to look into the matter, but hospitals are seeking reassurances from the prime minister himself.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek is to have his own TV show. The prime minister will go on the air once a fortnight to answer questions from the public. The question and answer session with the prime minister will be aired on a satellite and cable TV network known as 24 CZ. The prime minister's spokesperson Lucie Orgonikova said Mr. Paroubek had agreed to do this in order not to lose contact with the public. The idea is not new, between 1990 and 1992 then Czechoslovak prime minister Marian Calfa had a ten minute show called "10 minutes with the Premier" and, during his years in office, the former President Vaclav Havel had a radio programme every Sunday. The latter was very popular with the public and the show remained a regular Sunday feature for ten years.
Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek met with his British counterpart Tony Blair on Monday, at the start of a two day visit to London. The two leaders discussed the ratification of the European Union constitution, further expansion of the EU and the Czech military presence in Iraq. The Czech Republic operates a 100 strong military police training base in southern Iraq and has a small team of surgeons in the country. The mission of the military police base has been extended several times and the Czech prime minister said he was prepared to support another extended term if necessary. During his two day visit to Great Britain, Mr Paroubek will also decorate Czech war veterans at the country's embassy in London.
President Klaus has rejected criticism from former dissidents saying they were "lost" in present day society and incapable of sound judgment. Mr. Klaus aroused their anger recently by saying that non-elected non-governmental organizations /NGOs/ had a dangerous influence on public life. In a letter to the president the dissidents said that discrediting NGOs was an attack on fundamental democratic principles guaranteed by the constitution. The President said that while he appreciated the contribution former dissidents had made in helping to topple the communist regime, he suspected they were still living in the past themselves.
Runners from Kenya have dominated the 11th annual Prague Marathon. The winner of the men's race was Kenya's Steven Matebo Cheptot in a time of 2 hours, 10 minutes and 42 seconds, while his countrymen took second and third place in Sunday's race. The women's race was won by the favourite Salina Jebet Kosgei, also of Kenya. Transport in the city was disrupted for several hours because of the marathon, which began and ended on Old Town Square and this year attracted a record 5,000 runners.