The government has approved a plan to fight the existence of Romany ghettos. Dzamila Stehlikova, minister for human rights and minorities told journalists on Tuesday that a special government agency would start working in ten Czech municipalities where the Roma live in ghettos as of next January. The agency will work with the local authorities, employment offices and Roma inhabitants with the aim of improving living conditions and turning the ghettos into ordinary neighbourhoods. The government agency against social exclusion is to have 15 employees. Several dozen million crowns have been earmarked for its projects next year. Following its pilot phase the project is to expand to other towns and cities.
The captain of the Sparta football team, Tomas Repka, has been fined 150,000 crowns (or 7,500 USD) for losing his temper during the final minutes of a match against Teplice this weekend, where Sparta suffered its first loss this season. Repka who was red-carded left the field in a temper insulting the organisers and lashing out at a Czech TV cameraman. Midfielders Matusovic and Abraham, who were also involved in the incident, were fined as well. The team has already apologized to Czech Television.
Former communist prosecutor Ludmila Brozova Polednova who took part in the show trial of Milada Horakova, who was sentenced to death by the communist regime in 1950, will herself face trial next month, the Prague City Court said on Tuesday. Brozova Polednova, now aged 80, was one of the plaintiffs on the Horakova case. According to the police the trial was at variance even with communist laws of the time. Brozova Polednova is charged with aiding and abetting murder and if found guilty could get a sentence of up to 15 years. Horakova was the only woman that the communist regime executed for political reasons. No one has as yet been brought to justice for the crime. Most of the protagonists are already dead.
Former Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman has expressed support for his one-time rival Vaclav Klaus in the 2008 presidential elections. Milos Zeman himself was Vaclav Klaus' main rival in the 2003 presidential elections but lost due to a lack of support from his own party deputies. Now he has urged politicians, particularly those of the Social Democratic Party, to support Mr. Klaus' re-election. Zeman said Vaclav Klaus had proved to be a good president and was certainly the best among those being considered. Although Mr. Klaus is the strongest candidate in this race, his re-election is far from certain. The ruling Civic Democratic Party has promised to support him but the other parties in Parliament are still trying to agree on a rival candidate.
The national air carrier Czech Airlines (CSA) will sell cheap flights to 36 European destinations for 1,990 Czech crowns and a return ticket will be available for less than 4,000 crowns with all charges included, the iDnes.cz news website wrote on Tuesday. The website published the news after CSA enabled online access to the sales system by mistake. A CSA spokeswoman confirmed that the national carrier aims to compete with low-cost airlines and said more information would be made available shortly.
The Czech-Austrian parliamentary commission set up to address nuclear safety concerns in connection with the Temelin nuclear power plant in south Bohemia has run into serious problems. Milan Urban, one of the Czech representatives on the commission, refused to attend its second session after Austrian members of the commission refused to visit the Temelin nuclear power plant. Mr. Urban said the session would be an exercise in futility since the Austrian representatives only used the meetings to criticize the Czech side from afar. Two Austrian representatives walked out of the joint session on Monday after the commission's chairman excluded an anti nuclear activist from the debate on the grounds that it was a forum for experts not protesters. The two countries have been locked in a dispute over the Temelin power plant ever since it went into operation in the year 2,000.
Czech GPs are to hold a one-day strike on Wednesday in protest of low payments for medical services set by insurance companies. Jan Jelinek, spokesman of the Association of Czech GPs said that primary care is deeply undervalued as a result of which many doctors are running into financial problems and are unable to provide patients with quality care. GPs have been negotiating with insurance companies but so far with no result. Wednesday's strike will be their third protest action this year. The Czech Doctors' Chamber has said it supports the protest action but has urged general practitioners to ensure medical services in every region on the day of the strike.
Prague's mayor Pavel Bem is the most popular politician in the Czech Republic, according to a poll conducted by the STEM polling agency. Sixty percent of respondents said he was the most trustworthy politician on the scene. Bohuslav Sobotka, deputy chairman of the Social Democratic Party came second with a 51 percent rating, followed by Martin Bursik, head of the Green Party with 49 percent.
Representatives of the government, trade unions and employers have failed to reach agreement on the draft budget for 2008. The tripartite meeting broke up after both the unions and employers raised serious objections. Trade unions say that the government reform will adversely affect people with a lower income, families with children and pensioners. Employers object mainly to the change in subsidies to firms employing people with a health handicap. The government plans to approve the draft budget on Wednesday. In line with EU recommendations it has been projected with a deficit below 3 percent of the GDP.
In related news, the Czech Supreme Audit Office has uncovered serious shortcomings in a project of educational website funded by the Education Ministry. According to the audit, the quality of the website for schools does not correspond to sum of 26 million crowns the Education Ministry received for its establishment. The information provided by the website is already available at the ministry's home pages. The head of the Czech Supreme Office, Frantisek Dohnal, said the audit didn't uncover any violation of the law. He added, however, that the web-site was an ineffective spending of public money and had no use to schools.
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