- The centre-right government of Prime Minister Petr Nečas has survived a confidence vote in the lower house.
- Czech Radio will launch a new station later in 2012.
- The head of Šumava National Park, Jan Stráský, has “won” this year’s Ropák anti-award.
- The country’s health ministry has warned that unseasonably warm weather over the next few days will see a heightened risk from ticks.
- Legendary jockey Josef Váňa, who underwent an operation on Thursday, says he wants to be back in the saddle within a month.
Centre-right government survives confidence vote
The centre-right government of Prime Minister Petr Nečas has won a confidence vote in the lower house, receiving 105 votes in favour and 93 against. The result came shortly after eight pm on Friday after some 11 hours of deliberation by dozens of MPs, including opposition members who slammed the government, arguing it had lost the right to lead. Friday’s vote was called by the prime minister to test support for his government after the splintering of the smallest coalition partner, Public Affairs, over a corruption scandal.
On Friday, it received crucial backing from a newly-emerged faction around Deputy Prime Minister Karolina Peake, who defected from Public Affairs, as well as two independent deputies and three Public Affairs members. Despite the result, observers say it will prove harder for the government to find support for its reforms.
The cabinet has come under fire from the opposition and trade unions for austerity cuts it says are necessary to help bring the budget deficit to below 3 percent of GDP. Around 100,000 people took to the streets of the Czech capital last weekend to protest the austerity measures in one of the biggest anti-government demonstrations since the fall of communism.
Union representatives, activists agree next steps
Trade union representatives and activists from the Stop vládě (Stop the government) movement agreed on Friday on additional protests against the country’s centre-right government, which would build up to a strike at the end of June. Jaroslav Zavadil, the head of the trades unions’ umbrella organisation ČMKOS, revealed the news but declined to provide additional details concerning different protest events. He did say that members of both camps would prepare a new coordination centre to prepare activities. Earlier this week, union representatives warned the government that the next protests would “hurt”.
Czech Radio to launch new station, layoffs planned
Czech Radio will launch a new largely spoken-word station later in 2012 – merging three stations – Leonardo, Rádio Česko and Czech Radio 6 – in one. The move is in part reaction to a drop in listenership and will be accompanied by restructuring at Czech Radio that will also lead to layoffs. A projected 15 – 20 percent of employees (one fifth) will be let go over the next two years, the head of Czech Radio Peter Duhan confirmed. The new station, operatively being called Czech Radio 4, will be launched either on the first of November or December of this year. Along with the changes, on Thursday the Czech Radio Council also approved a 340,000 crown bonus for the head of Czech Radio in the 2Q, minus a reported 60,000 as Czech Radio has failed to corner 21 percent of the market. Czech Radio will also launch a tender for a new logo.
National park head “wins” anti-award
Ecological activists from Friends of the Earth have awarded Jan Stráský, the head of Šumava National Park, this year’s Ropák (Oil Guzzler) anti-award for most damaging environmental policies. The organisation said that they had chosen from among 24 candidates that also included Prague’s chief hygiene officer, the environment minister and the country’s president; but Mr Strásky’s name came up the most.
The activists slammed him for allegedly damaging the good name of the national park, and for taking questionable steps in care which – they argued – had hurt the local ecosystem. They also criticised his calling in the police during past activist protests; the national park head countered by saying that the charges contained many inaccuracies – stressing that if he had upset the group he had probably done something right. The Ropák anti-award takes its name from a fictional creature that survives on industrial waste; the animal was invented by Czech filmmaker Jan Svěrák.
National Reference Laboratory registers 44 new HIV cases in 1Q
The National Reference Laboratory for HIV/AIDS has revealed that the first three months of 2012 doctors registered 44 new cases of HIV infection, mostly among men. During that period, experts tested around 316,900 people, according to numbers released by the public health laboratory on Friday. This year’s increase in the first quarter represents a two-year high: in 2011 there were 35 new cases and a year before that, 42. The number of HIV cases in the Czech Republic has increased yearly over the last decade.
Experts issue tick warning ahead of weekend
The country’s health ministry has warned that over the next few days there will be a heightened risk of contracting ticks as warm weather sets in. According to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, the threat merits an “8” on a 9-point scale on Saturday and will rise to the top of the scale on Monday. The weekend is expected to see very warm temperatures, ideal for the external parasite which is capable of transmitting Lyme borreliosis and encephalitis. This year 378 cases of borreliosis have been registered so far – up by 69 from the same period last year. Two cases of tick-borne encephalitis have been registered – down from five over the same period last year. Anyone spending time in parks or the countryside at the weekend has been urged to use proper repellents to cut-down the risk.
Brno transit authority launches awareness campaign
Brno’s transit authority has launched a new public campaign to try and reduce vandalism of glass panes at tram stops. Stickers placed at stops list the cost of replacing a single pane at 5,000 crowns and ask readers whether they should replaced or left as they are, inviting discussion on facebook. The transit authority would like potential vandals to realise that by damaging public property they were only ‘hurting themselves’. The stickers have been put up on glass at stops that has been scratched, scribbled on in marker or otherwise damaged.
Press: Euro MP even deeper in debt
European Member of Parliament for the Czech Communist Party, Miloslav Ransorf, in financial difficulties, reportedly owes a total of 17 million crowns – loans with interest the politician has failed to repay over a number of years. According to commercial broadcaster TV Nova, a new promissory note originally for 700,000, reportedly now worth 7 million, held by former friend Vratislav Šlajer, has emerged. The original loan dates back to 2003. Mr Ransdorf was to have paid back money owed almost a year ago, but TV Nova said that never happened. Both the politician and his lawyer have declined to comment. According to the news site novinky.cz, the Euro MP used the original 700,000 loan to renovate his villa.
Czech 1930s film star turns 99
Czech movie star Zita Kabátová, who graced the screen in the 1930s and ‘40s with fellow leads like Oldřich Nový, Vladimír Slavínský and Vlasta Burián, turned 99 on Friday. Ms. Kabátová began acting in amateur theatre as a child; her uncle Josef Šváb–Malostranský was a vaudevillian and actor. She made her professional debut on-screen in 1936 in a sentimental film called Světlo jeho očí (The Colour of his Eyes). Like many fellow actors and actresses of her generation, Ms. Kabátová acted in a number of films under the German occupation; in later years she was banned from the screen for political reasons. Her husband was Jiří Zavřel - an Olympic rower and political prisoner under the Communists.
Olympic double-decker tours Plzeň region
An authentic British double-decker bus has begun touring the Plzeň region, part of a campaign launched last year by the Czech Olympic Committee to generate additional interest ahead of the Olympic Games. The bus has already visited some 50 towns and cities across the country, spending a day at each stop and inviting passersby to experience a bit of London.
Heavy traffic clogs D1 out of Prague
Motorists attempting to leave the capital ahead of the weekend on the D1 highway have run into heavy traffic. A ten-kilometre-long line on late Friday afternoon – caused by construction and a narrowing of lanes some 11 kilometres out – formed at Prague’s Chodov. Alternative routes are also heavily in use. Traffic on the D1 in the opposite direction is said to be moving normally.
Váňa: back in saddle in month at latest
Legendary jockey, Josef Váňa, is recovering from an operation after breaking his leg on Thursday in a fall in training. According to doctors, the racer – who has won the Pardubice steeplechase eight times – should take at least a half-year break; but on Friday on a Czech website, the jockey himself said he hoped to be back in the saddle within a month at the latest. On Thursday, Mr Váňa was thrown by a mare known as Dancing Babe – a more ‘problematic’ horse in his stable, the website idnes stated.
The upcoming weekend is expected to bring unseasonably hot weather with clear skies and daytime highs reaching 28 degrees Celsius.