The former chairman of the opposition Communist Party, Miroslav Grebenicek, is going to lead the Communists' candidate list in South Moravia in June's parliamentary elections. Mr Grebenicek will compete in his constituency with Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka of the ruling Social Democrats, Environment Minister Libor Ambrozek of the coalition Christian Democrats and Vaclav Mencl, an MP for the opposition Civic Democrats. Mr Grebenicek, who is seen as a hardliner, stepped down last autumn after 12 years of being party leader. The Communists are the third strongest party according to public opinion polls. They occupy one fifth of the seats in the lower house.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said he supports Health Minister David Rath's information campaign in the form of paid newspaper advertisements. Mr Paroubek called it the only way to put right facts concerning the activity of the healthcare sector. Advertisements featuring Minister Rath's portrait have appeared in Czech papers this week promising to ensure more healthcare and medicines for Czechs in 2006. The ministry claims in the advertisement that it motivates physicians to prescribe cheaper generic drugs in higher quantity. The chairman of the coalition Christian Democrats, Miroslav Kalousek has called the advertisements unethical.
The deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said that he is not considering any significant reduction in the overall tax burden in the coming four to five years. Mr Sobotka said, however, that he plans to restructure the taxes. Speaking in a televised debate on Sunday, Minister Sobotka said that the overall tax rate should stabilise around 37 percent in the coming years.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek is to visit Norway and Denmark next week. He is due to meet his counterparts and other officials and he will also be received by Denmark's Queen Margarethe II. Prime Minister Paroubek will meet members of the Czech expatriate community in the Norwegian capital Oslo and in the Danish capital Copenhagen he is going to hold talks with businessmen investing in the Czech Republic.
The head of the Czech Chamber of Pharmacists, Lubomir Chudoba, has said that the planned strike of pharmacists is becoming inevitable because of the attitude of the health ministry. Mr Chudoba said that the outcome of a meeting of pharmacists and Health Minister David Rath on Monday will decide whether pharmacies will close their doors on Wednesday or not. Czech pharmacists disagree with the ministry's recent decision to cut their profit margins by three percent in order to reduce medicine costs. Meanwhile, Health Minister David Rath says he is considering a further reduction of the profit margin, which now stands at 29 percent.
Jakub Janda has become only the second Czech ever to win the Four Hills ski jumping tournament. Janda shared victory with Finland's Janne Ahonen when both men finished equal on points on Friday; it was the first time a tie was recorded in the Four Hills competition, which this year was seen as a warm-up for the Turin Winter Olympics. The only other Czech to win the prestigious ski jumping tournament was Jiri Raska, in 1971.
The state-owned air carrier Czech Airlines has denied allegations published in Saturday's issue of the popular tabloid Blesk that it had paid for a recent private stay of Labour and Social Affairs Minister Zdenek Skromach in New York. The paper writes that Minister Skromach stayed in a hotel where Czech Airlines has an open account to accommodate its crews. Mr Skromach denied the accusation and said it was smear campaign. At a news conference on Saturday afternoon, Mr Skromach produced receipts to prove he had paid for the family trip himself.
An elderly man was killed on Saturday morning after he was hit by the Pendolino high-speed train on the Prague to Ostrava route near the town of Kolin. The driver was unaware of the collision until the train arrived at a station where remnants of a human body were found on its front. Police are investigating whether the 78-year-old man was killed while crossing the tracks or whether he committed suicide.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek is to visit Norway and Denmark next week. He is due to meet his counterparts and other officials and he will also be received by Denmark's Queen Margarethe II. Prime Minister Paroubek will meet Czech expatriates in the Norwegian capital Oslo and in the Danish capital Copenhagen he is going to hold talks with businessmen investing in the Czech Republic.
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