The incident by Mr Macek came at the start of a week of protest actions against the policies of Health Minister David Rath. Doctors, dentists, and pharmacists who are taking part say that the planned events will be mostly symbolic: not restricting care or in any way impacting patients. The week-long protests against the minister's reforms will involve demonstrations and public debates in the three largest cities of Prague, Brno, and Ostrava. The protesters say that the minister's reforms are harming both medical staff as well as patients, in their view worsening the quality of health care in many areas.
A new poll released by the STEM/MARK polling agency has suggested that
the majority of Czechs - 65 percent - think that levels of corruption
in the country have gone up over the last five years. According to the
survey, 23 percent of citizens said they had witnessed cases of
corruption - including 11 percent who saw corruption in health care -
having given both voluntary and involuntary bribes to doctors.
16 percent of respondents in the poll said that they had come across corruption in the civil service, in the police force, and other areas.
Transparency International, which has monitored the problem of corruption extensively, issued a report last October, according to which the Czech Republic is among the countries with the highest level of corruption within the European Union.
An incident at the weekend in which Miroslav Macek - a long-term
advisor to the Czech president - assaulted the country's health
minister has been qualified as a misdemeanour by a state attorney. The
statement was made after the state attorney reviewed video of the
incident from the weekend. On Saturday at a doctors' conference Mr Macek
surprised Health Minister David Rath when he walked over and - without
warning - slapped him on the back of the head. The attack was
subsequently condemned by Czech politicians, including the prime
Mr Macek defended the action by saying that he had been settling a personal score.
But, with elections a fortnight away, some political commentators are speculating over Mr Macek's intentions: he is a former deputy chairman of the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, the party currently leading in pre-election opinion polls. Mr Rath, meanwhile, is a representative of the Social Democrats, 4 points behind the leaders in a recent survey.
18-year-old Canadian ice hockey star Sidney Crosby is vacationing in the Czech Republic, following an invitation from a former Czech team-mate from the junior league in Rimouski, Quebec. Crosby arrived in Prague from Riga, Latvia, following the end of the 2006 World Ice Hockey Championship, where Team Canada finished outside the medals. The Czech Republic finished with silver. Crosby - last year's No. 1 draft pick in the NHL - has said he hopes to spend a few days in the Czech Republic 'incognito'.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has filed a lawsuit for slander against the leader of right-of-centre Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek. During a heated TV debate on Sunday Mr Topolanek suggested that Mr Paroubek had connections to the underworld, statements the prime minister has said are not based on truth. The debate on Sunday was the first of four planned debates between the two men before the upcoming general election.
Czech as well as German soldiers serving in northern Afghanistan on NATO's ISAF peacekeeping mission were targeted in two attacks on Monday. Explosions damaged vehicles in two separate incidents. The Czechs were reportedly targeted in the town of Faizabad: none of the soldiers suffered injury. The Czech Republic has around 40 members of the Armed Forces in the area, serving together with German and Danish troops.
General Frantisek Perina - a Czech pilot in the Second World War who died two weeks ago at the age of 95 - was given a military funeral on Monday - his remains will be laid to rest alongside his wife in his home town of Mokruvky in the Breclav region. Mr Perina's wife died just weeks before the general himself. Frantisek Perina was one of the last remaining Czech war heroes, who earned the title of "ace" in just two days over France in 1940. He shot down at least 12 enemy planes during the war. On Monday Czech President Vaclav Klaus commented Mr Perina's enormous contribution by saying that it was with amazement that he considered how much Mr Perina had achieved in a "single" life. Following his escape from Communist Czechoslovakia after the war, Mr Perina lived for many years in the US. He returned to his homeland in the 1990s.
Miroslav Macek, who physically attacked Health Minister David Rath at a
meeting of Czech dentists on Saturday has been asked to leave the Civic
Democratic Party. Mr. Macek, a former deputy prime minister in the 1990s
and long-time adviser to President Vaclav Klaus, was chairing the meeting
of dentists when he walked over to the minister and without warning hit
him on the back of the head. He said later he had been settling "a
The attack was severely condemned by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek who said at an impromptu press conference that he viewed the attack as a political affair and called on President Klaus to reprimand his advisor. Mr. Paroubek said the Civic Democrats were creating an atmosphere conductive to violence against left wing parties. The President's Office has not commented on the incident. The Civic Democratic Party has distanced itself from Macek's action and asked him to leave party ranks. Mr. Macek told the CTK news agency he had no intention of doing so.
The Czech ice hockey team will play Sweden for the gold in the World Championship in Riga on Sunday night after beating Finland 3:1in the semi-finals. It is expected to be a dramatic match with the Czechs out to defend their 2005 title, and the Swedes striving to become the first nation to claim Olympic and world championship titles in the same year.
A gale force wind swept across the Czech Republic in the night and early morning hours uprooting trees and damaging roofs and cars in many parts of the country. Firemen in the western part of the country responded to close to 200 emergency calls overnight and several villages in the north and eastern part of the country suffered power blackouts. No injuries are reported.
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