The Czech government’s representative for human rights, Michael Kocáb, denied late on Wednesday the prime minister’s claim that he had tendered his resignation. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said he accepted Mr Kocáb’s resignation, and thanked him for his work in the field of human rights; Michael Kocáb however said that at Wednesday’s meeting, the prime minister pushed him to resign which he refused. Speculation about Mr Kocáb’s demise appeared as soon as PM Nečas appointed the conservative pundit, Roman Joch, his advisor for human rights. Mr Joch said several times the position of human rights representative was redundant. Mr Kocáb, formerly a rock musician, also served as the Human Rights Minister in the previous cabinet.
A high court in Olomouc, central Moravia, ruled on Thursday that on-the-run Czech businessman Radovan Krejčíř channelled funds abroad legally. Mr Krejčíř was charged with transferring 272 million crowns, or more than 14 million US dollars, to an off-shore company based on the British Virgin Islands in 1997. The Czech prosecution claimed the deal was fictitious; however, the court in Olomouc confirmed a previous verdict according to which the transfer was above board. The fraud charge is just one of many faced by Radovan Krejčíř, who is also wanted in the Czech Republic for conspiracy to murder, and is now residing in South Africa.
Former high-ranking foreign ministry official Karel Srba, who was sentenced to 12 years for plotting to murder an investigative journalist, was conditionally released from prison on Thursday after serving eight years. According to experts, Mr Srba’s personality has changed during his stay in jail and he now presents no threat to society. Mr Srba plotted to murder journalist Sabina Slonková who published a series of articles about his suspicious activities at the ministry.
The number of whooping cough cases registered in the Czech Republic in 2009 was the highest since 1966, an expert from the National Institute of Public Health told reporters on Thursday. A total of 955 cases were registered in the country but experts believe the situation may be much worse than that. Three babies have died of whooping cough in the Czech Republic since 2005; prior to that, the last death was recorded in 1970. Vaccination of babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers against whooping cough in then Czechoslovakia was introduced in 1958; last year, the rising number of cases made authorities re-vaccinate children aged 11 and 12.
Four Czech environmental organizations criticized on Thursday the
environmental impact assessment, or EIA, for the completion of the Temelín
nuclear power plant. The study was put together by the plant’s owner, the
Czech energy giant ČEZ, and submitted to the Environment Ministry. The
environmentalists said the study was in breach of EU legislation, lacked a
more complex evaluation of the planned two new nuclear blocks. The NGOs
suggested it should be rejected by the ministry. A ČEZ spokesman said that
the EIA was in full compliance with the law.
ČEZ is planning to build two new blocks at the Temelín power plant that should be finished by 2012. The French company Areva, the US firm Westinghouse and Russia’s Atomstroyexport for the multi-billion public contract that has been dubbed the tender of the century.
Top seeded Czech, Tomáš Berdych was defeated in the first round of the US Open tennis tournament by Frenchman, Michael Llodra. The score was 6:7, 4:6, 4:6. Wimbledon finalist Berdych was seeded seventh. No male Czech player has proceeded past the first round. Earlier, Radek Štěpánek, who is struggling to find his best form this year, went down 4:6, 2:6, 6:4, 4:6 to Frenchman Julien Benneteau. In women’s singles, Petra Kvitová beat fellow Czech Lucie Hradecká in the first round on Monday, and will face defending champion Maria Sharapova from Russia on Thursday.
The Czech Constitutional Court rejected on Thursday a complaint by Jerome Colloredo-Mansfeld and his cousin Kristina Colloredo-Mansfeld, who sued the Czech Republic over movable property in the chateau of Opočno, in eastern Bohemia. The aristocrats wanted the state to return historic weapons, paintings, chandeliers, dinner sets and other objects which were confiscated, together with the chateau, in 1942 by the Nazis and later by the Czechoslovak state. The court said the confiscation took place before February 1948, which is the borderline for restitution claims.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev appointed on Thursday career diplomat Sergey Kiselev the new Russian ambassador to the Czech Republic. Mr Kiselev will replace Alexei Fedotov, who has been posted in the Czech capital since 2004. The newly appointed ambassador, 63-year-old Sergey Kiselev, previously served as the Russian envoy to the Seychelles and Singapore, and held several positions at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow. The outgoing ambassador met with Czech President Václav Klaus on Thursday, and later told reporters that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev might visit the Czech Republic in the near future.
Members of the Czech doctors’ trade unions threatened on Thursday to resign en masse over the government’s plan to shake up salary scales. The Czech Labour and Social Affairs Ministry has proposed to introduce a single salary scale which would see the wages of doctors at the start of their career slashed by 14 percent, while those of experienced ones by up to 40 percent. The head of the doctors’ trade union, Martin Engel, said the only adequate response would be for doctors to resign en masse. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said the government would come back to the issue, which is part of the cabinet’s cost-cutting drive.
The Czech national football team took the train – for the first time in decades – to get to the eastern city of Olomouc where they will face Lithuania in the first game of the EURO 2012 qualification on Tuesday. The Czech line-up, which includes Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech, Arsenal midfield Tomáš Rosický, and Galatasaray’s striker Milan Baroš, will seek to bag the first three points in qualifying group I where they will later also face Spain, Scotland and Liechtenstein.
Czech president burns giant red underpants at press briefing
Restoration work on Prague’s Astronomical Clock reveals hidden secrets
Czech restaurants and pubs facing serious shortage of workers
Václav Klaus: Russia not a threat to Czech Republic, unlike EU
Ozzy Osbourne performing in Prague with Hollywood Vampires, featuring Johnny Depp