President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed an amendment to a law banning the transformation of hospitals owned by regions into business companies. The amendment will now go back to the lower house which is expected to override the president's veto as the two parties which pushed it through, the Social Democrats and the Communists, have a comfortable majority in the chamber. The Health Minister, Social Democrat Milada Emmerova, says she wants to prevent the transformation of hospitals as she believes they would no longer provide a full range of health care but concentrate instead on more profitable branches of medicine.
One of the two smaller parties in the ruling coalition, the Christian Democrats, have said they will not support the removal from office of the Supreme State Attorney Marie Benesova proposed by the Justice Minister Pavel Nemec of the Freedom Union. The Christian Democrats say they are convinced that politicians must not influence decisions in criminal cases. Relations between Ms Benesova and Mr Nemec have been tense for several months because of certain criminal cases and the crisis culminated a few days ago when Minister Nemec launched disciplinary proceedings against the Supreme State Attorney.
The chairman of the opposition Communist Party, Miroslav Grebenicek, has decided to step down from his post. In a statement for the CTK news agency, Mr Grebenicek said his staying at the head of the party would be pointless, stating the party's programme orientation as the main reason of his move. A spokesperson for the Communist Party said that until October 1 when his case will be discussed by the Central Committee, Mr Grebenicek will not talk to the media. The 58-year old Miroslav Grebenicek has been chairman of the Communist Party since 1993.
The leader of the Social Democrats, former prime minister Stanislav Gross has rejected the statements of some Polish MPs who link the Unipetrol corruption scandal with the controversy surrounding the purchase of Mr Gross's Prague apartment. Stanislav Gross denied the allegations saying the sale of Unipetrol to the Polish company PKN Orlen was approved by the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla last year whereas Mr Gross bought his flat in 1999. Some Czech media suggest that the privatisation of the oil and chemicals group Unipetrol might have been manipulated and bribes amounting to hundreds of millions of crowns were involved.
In related news, a poll conducted by the SC&C agency for the Czech
daily Mlada Fronta Dnes has suggested that a majority of Czechs do not
feel threatened by the possibility of a terrorist attack. Of 381
questioned some 70 percent said similar attacks to those that hit New
York and Washington four years ago, or London this year, were unlikely
in the Czech Republic. Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan said on
Saturday that that the risk of attacks could never be ruled out,
especially since the Czech Republic is both an EU member and a member
In September Czech officials have planned exercises on the Prague metro line to analyse how effectively the city would respond to a terrorist strike.
Retired tennis star Ivan Lendl will be named on Sunday to the US Open's Hall of Fame. The Czech-born player won the final three times at Flushing Meadows in the years 1985 - 88. In all, Lendl appeared in 8 finals, tying Bill Tilden's record from 1918 - 1925. Lendl, who became a US citizen in 1982, played some of his most memorable matches against US-born player Jimmy Connors and American star John McEnroe.
Czech police say they will send two officials to the Seychelles this week to negotiate with authorities over the possibility to extradite Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir, a businessman wanted on fraud charges as well as allegedly planning the murder of a customs official. Krejcir fled the Czech Republic two months ago and was later joined on the Seychelles by his wife and son. On Friday it was revealed that all three now have Seychelles citizenship. The Czech Republic does not have an extradition treaty with that country. The Justice Minister Pavel Nemec has suggested it is unlikely the fugitive businessman will be handed over. Mr Krejcir's wife is also wanted by Czech police.
Jiri Lang, the head of BIS - the Czech counter-intelligence agency - has revealed that the agency recently helped thwart the planning of a terrorist attack within the European Union. Mr Lang made the statement on a news discussion programme on Sunday but refused to elaborate on further details, including whether any Czechs were involved. Public broadcaster Czech TV has pointed to a group recently arrested in Spain for planning an attack. According to BIS head Jiri Lang there are some links in the Czech Republic between individuals and the financing of terrorism. He indicated on the programme that counter-intelligence was following all suspicious leads.
One of the founders of Roma studies in the Czech Republic, Milena Hubshmannova, was killed on Thursday in a car crash in South Africa. One other person, a South African man, also died and three others were seriously injured. Hubshmannova, a professor at Prague's Charles University, was born in 1933 and was one of the Czech Republic's foremost specialists in Roma culture. After the fall of communism in 1989 she helped found the department of Roma Studies at Charles University. Other projects included numerous translations from Romany to Czech. Milena Hubschmannova was 72.
On Sunday the Czech Republic sent its first delivery of humanitarian
aid for victims of hurricane Katrina in the United States. Comprising
some 24,000 blankets, 600 camp beds, as well as a number of hall-sized
tents, the aid is the first of its kind from the Czech Republic to the
US. Its sending was coordinated within NATO, also the first time the
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has taken part in organised aid to
the United States.
The US Ambassador to Prague, William Cabaniss, was on hand at a ceremony on Sunday to accept the aid offer, noting the symbolism of the gesture on September 11th, four years after New York and Washington were struck by the terrorist attacks.
The Czech aid package is worth 25 million crowns, the equivalent of around one million US dollars. The Czech Republic is also ready to provide part of a field hospital, fire-fighters, and experts in removing environmental damage.
Collapse of Prague footbridge raises concerns regarding state of other bridges
Some like it hot: Czech Republic sees rise in number of household saunas
ANO leader Andrej Babiš appointed Czech prime minister
Czech wage rises continue apace, low earners seeing larger increases
Czech protesters run out of patience as Prague brutalist building faces demolition