The minister of health, Tomas Julinek, says he wants to introduce fees for every visit to a doctor or emergency department from the start of next year. Mr Julinek said the proposal would be put to the lower house of parliament by the middle of this year, adding that he expected a great political fight over the issue. His plan also envisages a charge for every prescription and day spent in hospital.
Members of a new Czech-Austrian joint commission should visit the Czech Temelin power station to determine whether it is safe, the Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolanek, said after a meeting with his Austrian counterpart, Alfred Gusenbauer, in Prague. Mr Gusenbauer said greater transparency over Temelin could lead to a reduction in animosity on both sides. Critics in Austria say the nuclear station in south Bohemia is unsafe.
Czech doctors are planning to perform transplants of the small intestine for the first time this year, Mlada fronta Dnes reported. The paper said the operation was most unusual even by world standards. Doctors from Prague's Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine are now drawing up a list of patients who could benefit from this type of transplant.
An estimated 1,500 Czech police officers, fire officers and other members of the security forces have held a protest in Prague against changes to their working conditions. The protest has been organised under the name Initiative 361, after the number of a new law which reduces their overtime for working at weekends, public holidays and at night. It also increases officers' holiday time and shortens their working week.
The Czech cross-country skier Katerina Neumannova has taken gold in the last major competition of her career. Neumannova finished almost half a minute ahead of her nearest rival in the 10 km free at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Sapporo, Japan. The 34-year-old Olympic champion is set to retire at the end of the season.
Regulated rents in Prague are to rise at the maximum permitted level over the next three years, with the first increase due in June. After that rent hikes will be levied according to location, a Civic Democrat member of Prague's municipal authority, Jiri Janecek, told reporters after a meeting on Tuesday. Mr Janecek said they did not expect any serious social impact, and definitely not in the first year. Rents in the Czech Republic should be completely deregulated by the end of 2010.
The minister of defence, Vlasta Parkanova, says the biggest problems
she has encountered in her short period in office are linked to
corruption and the awarding of public tenders. Minister Parkanova, who
was appointed last month, made the comments after a meeting with
President Vaclav Klaus at Prague Castle on Tuesday. She said she wanted
to make the Czech army's spending more transparent and effective.
The minister also called for the thorough investigation of alleged bribery connected with the planned purchase and subsequent lease of Gripen fighter jets from Sweden's Saab and Britain's BAE Systems. Police in the Czech Republic, Sweden and the UK are currently looking into the matter.
Meanwhile, Swedish TV is due to broadcast on Tuesday a secretly recorded interview with former Czech foreign minister Jan Kavan, in which he seems to indicate bribes were given to Czech politicians in connection with the deal. Mr Kavan has dismissed the recording, saying he had merely relayed gossip and speculation to the reporters.
The pop star Helena Vondrackova has pulled out of Euro Song, the Czech Republic's search for a representative for this year's Eurovision song contest. The singer, who has been popular for four decades, said the organisation and promotion of the Euro Song competition cast doubt over its probity. But its organiser Czech Television said Vondrackova's people had themselves tried to influence the method of voting selection. The Czech Republic is competing in Eurovision for the first time this year.
The trade unions at Czech Television are calling on some of the station's top management, including general director Jiri Janecek, and most members of the Czech Television Council to resign. The trade unions say the management has been breaking the law for several years by allowing Frantisek Lambert to be programming director even though he had been a member of the pre-1989 Communist Party's armed force, the People's Militia.
The opposition Social Democrats are offering 126 million crowns (5.8
million USD) to Prague lawyer Zdenek Altner, party chairman Jiri
Paroubek said on Monday. Mr Altner says he is owed 93 million crowns
(4.3 million USD) from the Social Democrats for services he gave them
in a legal dispute over the ownership of the party's headquarters seven
years ago and that the amount has now risen to 19 billion crowns due to
fines and late-payment penalties.
Zdenek Altner has filed a bankruptcy petition against the Social Democrats and says he will not accept an out-of-court settlement. The CTK news agency reports that many members of the Social Democratic Party are worried about the future existence of the party as they fear impending bankruptcy.
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