The office of Czech President Vaclav Klaus has revealed that the
president has vetoed a bill that would have established a network of
non-profit hospitals within the country's health care system. The bill,
which would have transformed almost 150 hospitals currently managed by
local authorities into public facilities financed from health insurance
payments, was passed in April with support from Social Democrat and
Communist MPs. It will be returned to the lower house for a new vote.
Mr Klaus - a former head of the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party
- has indicated that he opposed the bill on the grounds that it was the
wrong approach towards the country's troubled health sector.
The veto comes less than a month before general elections on June 2nd and 3rd: health care reform is considered a major issue in this year's election run-up.
The Czech Army's record contract for 234 armoured transporter vehicles,
won last year by Austrian-based Steyr Daimler Puch with a bid of over
one billion dollars, faces a legal threat, according to the Czech
online news server aktualne.cz. A Prague court ruled this week that the
Italian bidder for the contract, Iveco Fiat, was unfairly eliminated
during the first round, the server has reported, citing the company's
Czech lawyer, Viktor Bradac. According to Mr Bradac, the ruling means
that the Ministry of Defence cannot sign the final contract with Steyr,
a subsidiary of US defence giant General Dynamics, since - in his view
- Iveco is back in the tender.
The Ministry of Defence spokesman so far has said that the ministry can not comment until it receives a written version of the court's decision.
An Interior Ministry commission investigating a case of alleged police
brutality against May Day demonstrator and human rights official
Katerina Jacques, has recommended that one officer in question face
criminal charges. The commission is still weighing the nature of the
charges - including causing bodily harm. On May 1st Mrs Jacques was
taken into police custody after a clash with policeman Tomas Cermak.
Jacques, along with a number of witnesses, stated that she was kicked
and beaten with a truncheon by the officer before being handcuffed.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek was swift in criticising the police
Mrs Jacques has herself now filed charges against the police officer.
The NHL's New York Rangers have announced that Czech ice hockey star Jaromir Jagr will undergo surgery to a dislocated left shoulder on Monday. Jagr suffered the injury in the third period of the first game of the Rangers' first-round playoff series against New Jersey. After missing game two, Jagr struggled in game three and took another hit in the shoulder in game four to end his season. The Devils ousted the Rangers in a four-game sweep. Jagr, a finalist for this year's Most Valuable Player award, set Rangers' franchise records with 54 goals and 123 points this season.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has backed fellow Social Democrat and
Agriculture Minister Jan Mladek, saying Mr Maldek posed no threat to
state security following information released by a Czech daily saying
that the minister had been refused a clearance certificate by the
National Security Authority five years ago, allowing him, for example,
to access secret documents. The prime minister has said that he has no
information at his disposal that Mr Mladek - as agriculture minister -
posed any kind of danger. At the same time, he said that he expected
the minister to undergo vetting to dispel any doubts about his security
suitability - even if not required by the law.
The daily Mlada fronta Dnes wrote earlier this week that the National Security Authority had refused to grant Mr Mladek security vetting in 2001 when he was deputy finance minister. According to the paper, Mr Mladek had connections to a number of Russian business figures suspected of having links to Russian intelligence services. The minister has denied any such contacts, and dismissed the claim as mere allegation.
A number of ceremonies have been held in the Czech capital to mark the anniversary of the historic Prague Uprising, which began on May 5th, 1945, a few days before the end of World War II. One of the main events took place on Friday in front of the Czech Radio building on Prague's Vinohradska Street, the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of the uprising. In May 1945 around 30,000 of the city's citizens fought the Nazis over three days, with more than 1,500 losing their lives.
Nine time Wimbledon tennis singles champion and former world number 1 Martina Navratilova has arrived in Prague ahead of next week's ECM Prague Open. Navratilova will be performing in the doubles tournament with Barbora Strycova. The tournament is taking place at Prague's famous Stvanice stadium. Twenty years ago it was there that the Czech-born player helped the US to victory over Czechoslovakia in the Fed Cup. Ms Navratilova has told journalists that she is excited about playing in Prague again, saying that feelings experienced playing here would be different from anywhere else.
The Czech Foreign Minister on Thursday presented this year's Gratias Agit awards for promoting the good name of the Czech Republic around the world. Among the recipients was Jaroslava Moserova, a doctor, politician and translator who passed away last month. The Czech-born former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright and Olympic skiing champion Katerina Neumannova were also honoured in the ceremony, which took place at the Foreign Ministry.
Germany has expressed support for a Czech proposal under which target countries would have to approve the importation of waste for incineration. The two countries reached agreement on the issue at a meeting in Prague on Thursday, a spokesperson for the Czech Environment Ministry said. The suggestion will be discussed by the Council of Europe during a debate on waste export next month. There have been several cases this year of German rubbish being illegally imported into the Czech Republic.