The Chamber of Deputies has approved a government-backed raft of measures aimed at combating corruption. Among other changes the legislation would introduce the possibility of defendants becoming crown witnesses. The right-of-centre Civic Democrats said the package gave too much power to the police and refused to take part in Tuesday’s debate. The party controls the Senate which is likely to send back the legislation. The same fate could also meet a bill passed forcing political lobbyists to register with the Interior Ministry.
A passerby found a new-born baby boy in a plastic bag in the central Bohemian town of Tábor on Tuesday. The man was walking his dog when he discovered the abandoned infant among trees on the bank of the Lužnice River. The baby was suffering from mild exposure but otherwise in good health when he was brought to a local hospital. Police managed to track down his mother within two hours of his discovery. They are treating the case as attempted murder.
Cuts in the salaries of executives at state-owned companies in the Czech Republic will begin next month, the minister of finance, Eduard Janota, told the newspaper E15. He said the interim Czech government was discussing a salary cap for senior managers with a view to the measure being pushed through at annual general meetings and extraordinary general meetings of firms majority owned by the state. Minister Janota has put forward a raft of cost-cutting measures in an effort to deal with the Czech Republic’s large budget deficit.
The lower house of the Czech Parliament has voted to hold one more session
before its dissolution in two weeks’ time. A session on Tuesday had been
expected to be the last of the current parliament. However, the Social
Democrats pushed through a proposal for the house to meet again on Thursday
next week, the day before a general election begins, in order to debate
direct presidential elections and a presidential veto on a bill increasing
the amount of agrofuel in petrol and diesel.
Tuesday’s session began with a moment’s silence in honour of ombudsman Otakar Motejl, who died on May 9. Two new deputies were sworn in: the Social Democrats Yvona Kubjátová replaced Miloslav Vlček, who quit over financial wrongdoing, and the Civic Democrats Klára Slámová replaced Daniel Reisiegl, who has joined the Supreme Audit Office. General elections are due in the Czech Republic on Friday and Saturday next week.
The Czech Republic have beaten Canada 3:2 to advance to the quarter-finals of the Ice Hockey World Championship in Germany. There was great interest in the game in the Czech Republic, as failure to take at least one point would have seen the team exit the worlds with the country’s worst placing ever in the competition. After Canada went ahead the Czechs came back with goals from Lukáš Kašpar, Jaromír Jágr and Jakub Klepiš to open up a two-goal lead that was only threatened when their opponents made it 3:2 with little over a minute remaining. Who the Czech Republic play next will be determined by the results of subsequent games.
Brewer Stanislav Bernard is offering beer to young Czechs in order to encourage them to vote in next week’s elections. He has promised kegs of his Bernard beer to the first 250 secondary school classes in which 85 percent or more of eligible voters pledge to go to the polls. Mr Bernard is a right-leaning former candidate for the Czech Senate. Right wing parties did best in a recent mock election of 15- to 19-year-olds held by a Czech NGO.
The lower house has overturned a presidential veto of a bill increasing social benefits for mothers from June 1. The Social Democrats, Communists, Christian Democrats and Greens all defeated the veto, which blocked a return to benefits at 70 percent of mothers’ assessment base; that had been cut to 60 percent under previous legislation. Deputies also overturned a veto by President Václav Klaus on a bill forcing airlines operating in the Czech Republic to buy emissions permits. The government-sponsored legislation is aimed at making them pay for the damage planes do the environment.
Flooding has continued to cause serious problems in many parts of Moravia.
Around 3,500 homes were without electricity on Tuesday, while train
services have been halted in some places. Much of the southern Moravian
town of Troubky, which was devastated by floods in 1997, is under water and
many local people have been evacuated. While some rivers continue to rise,
others have started to go down and there is a danger of landslides in some
places as the waters recede. The floods have claimed one victim to date, a
woman of 69 who drowned in her garden in Třinec on Sunday after the River
Olše burst its banks. Police in Ostrava were called to deal with cases of
looting of flooded buildings on Tuesday. After days of downpours in the
east of the Czech Republic, rain is expected to ease off on Wednesday.
The Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer has discussed the possibility of sharing resources to deal with the flooding with his counterparts in neighbouring Poland and Slovakia, which have also been affected. After an emergency meeting on Monday the Czech government said it was sending 800 soldiers to help with the clear up.
Transport on trams, buses and the metro system in Prague will be free of charge for all children up to the age of 10 from the start of July, the chairman of the board of the Prague Public Transport Company David Vodrážka told reporters on Tuesday. Currently public transport in the capital is only free for children to the age of 6. At the same time, paper tickets for older children and youths are being discontinued; they will have to use the Opencard system instead.
Two people were injured on Tuesday when a runaway truck hit an election campaign stand in Kutná Hora. Social Democrats’ staff were preparing for a speech by the party’s Milan Urban when the lorry evidently started rolling of its own accord across the main square of the central Bohemian town, crashing into the tent-like structure. Mr Urban said the truck belonged to a company that was helping to organise the Social Democrats’ stump meetings. The party is expected to come first in elections at the end of next week.