- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to travel to the Czech Republic on an official visit in May.
- Czech farmers are planning blockades to protest the discontinuation of a diesel tax rebate program.
- The new faction around Deputy Prime Minister Karolína Peake has announced its name.
- Health Minister Leoš Heger has caved into pressure from doctors and patients regarding a new piece of legislation concerning the medical treatment of children.
- The justice minister has filed a complaint in favor of a man charged with defacing political campaigning posters.
Israeli Prime Minister to visit Czech Republic
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be in the Czech Republic on an official visit in May. According to a source of the Czech News Agency ČTK, Israel’s prime minister will be travelling with a delegation of several ministers. He is set to meet with Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas as well as members of his cabinet. In April, on occasion of a previous visit of the Israeli prime minister to the Czech Republic, the two leaders had discussed expanding the cooperation between both countries in the areas of research and development as well as the military and economic sectors.
Czech farmers plan blockades to protest discontinuation of diesel tax rebates
Czech farmers are planning a series of road blockades in protest of the planned discontinuation of tax rebates on diesel fuel for workers in the agricultural sector and the announced introduction of a new tax on wine. The first blockade is set to take place on May 23rd. According to the head of the Agricultural Chamber, Jan Veleba, farmers are hoping to put the government under pressure to reverse its decision. In mid-April, the chamber had called on Prime Minister Petr Nečas to conserve the diesel tax rebates in the agricultural sector. The discontinuation of the rebate program comes as part of a reform package aimed at keeping the state budget deficit below 3 percent GDP in 2013 and 2014. Currently, farmers are able to claim 60 percent of the consumption tax they pay on diesel gas back from the state.
New faction around Deputy Prime Minister Karolína Peake announces name: LIDEM
The new faction around Deputy Prime Minister Karolína Peake, formerly of Public Affairs, has announced its official name: LIDEM, Czech for “For the People” as well as a nod to the group’s orientation, liberal democratic. The political platform announced its name at a news conference on Thursday afternoon, where it also advertised a competition it is holding for its new logo. On Monday, its members will begin collecting the signatures necessary for the formation of a new party.
Peake had left Public Affairs in mid-April, stating that she disliked the style in which the former junior coalition partner presented itself. Her split with the party and the subsequent walk-out of some of its other members cast serious doubt over the future of the government coalition; however, it survived a vote of confidence last week.
Former senator goes on hunger strike in support of jailed former Ukranian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko
Former senator Vlastimil Sehnal on Sunday went on a hunger strike in support of the jailed former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. He says that he wants to raise awareness of the case in the Czech Republic and inspire other politicians to intervene in the matter. Mr Sehnal told the Czech News Agency ČTK that Czech President Václav Klaus should travel to Ukraine to discuss the case of the jailed leader with current President Viktor Yanukovych. Yulia Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven-year sentence for signing contracts for the delivery of Russian gas that were allegedly not in the public interest, has been on a hunger strike since April 20. Her imprisonment has been criticized by EU and international leaders. Earlier this week, President Václav Klaus cancelled a visit to Ukraine in protest over her imprisonment. The Austrian, Slovenian and German heads of state have also refused to participate in an upcoming summit of central European presidents.
Health Minister caves into pressure from doctors, patients on child medical treatment legislation
Health Minister Leoš Heger has caved into pressure from doctors and patients regarding a new piece of legislation that would require both parents to give their approval prior to any medical treatment of their child. On Thursday, a ministry official announced that under the new law, the approval of only one parent will suffice for a child’s medical treatment. Further changes are also underway in the treatment of teenage patients aged 15 to 18. The legislative changes could go into effect as early as this fall.
Justice Minister files complaint in favor of man charged with defacing political campaigning posters
A former public transport worker from Olomouc, Roman Smetana, may soon be released from prison, where he is serving a 100-day sentence for the destruction of public property. Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil has filed a complaint in the man’s favor and has appealed to the court to cancel its verdict. He said that it is up to the court to decide whether the defacing of political campaign posters, of which Mr Smetana was found guilty, was a criminal offense or merely a misdemeanor. Mr Smetana was charged with defacing public property for adding feelers to politicians’ photographs on campaign posters. After he refused to pay the fine, he was sent to prison.
Court returns alleged terrorism-support case to prosecution
A Prague court has returned a case of alleged support of terrorism to the prosecution for further investigation over procedural errors, a spokeswoman for the court said on Wednesday. Four foreigners– three men from Dagestan and one from Moldova – were arrested last year in the Czech Republic on charges of support of terrorism. They allegedly counterfeited identification documents for members of Jamaat Shariat, an Islamist militant group in Dagestan. If found guilty, the men could face up to ten years in prison.
Man sentenced for failing to cover hospital fees
A court in Ostrava, in the north-east of the country, on Wednesday sentenced a 55-year-old man to 18 months in prison for failing to pay over 200,000 crowns in fees for his hospital stays. According to the prosecution, the man spent most of the time between late 2007 and last November in hospitals; he owes money to some 70 Czech hospitals. He also often ordered above-standard services although he was not be able to pay for them. The man is believed to suffer from Munchausen syndrome, a disorder characterized by feigning diseases to attract attention and sympathy. Both the defendant and the prosecutor said they consider appealing the verdict.
Helen Mirren to receive award at Karlovy Vary film festival
English actress Helen Mirren is set to receive a lifetime achievement reward at this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the festival’s spokeswoman said on Wednesday. At the festival, Ms Mirren will present the film The Door by the Hungarian director István Szabó. During her visit, the actress will be accompanied by her husband, the director and producer Taylor Hackford who last year chaired the festival’s jury. The 47th Karlovy Vary International Festival will take place between June 29 and July 7.
Czech national hockey teams leaves for world championships
The Czech national hockey team on Thursday left Prague for the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship which takes place in Finland and Sweden. Coach Alois Hadamczik is waiting to hear from defense player Zbynek Michálek, who has been having issues with his hip and may not be able to join the Czech ranks at the championship. The coach has said that he anticipates the Czech Republic’s first match, against Denmark, will not be an easy one. He added that he and the team were looking forward to the challenge.
Olomouc take Czech FA cup
Sigma Olomouc beat Sparta Prague 1:0 on Wednesday night to win the Czech FA cup. The cup final, played in Plzeň, saw the only goal two minutes into the second half when Olomouc defender Michal Vepřek threw the ball in on the left side, got it back and made his way into the box where he produced a hard shot to the far corner. The win sweetens the season for Olomouc who had nine points taken away from them over match-fixing. For their part, Sparta might wrap the season empty handed as their chances of winning the league are growing thinner.
Heavy storms to hit Czech Republic
Heavy thunderstorms are expected to hit the Czech Republic late on Thursday afternoon and in the early evening. Small rivers may flood and some cellars could also be affected by the torrential downpours, the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has said. However, the rain will help reduce the danger of fires that firefighters expected in recent days due to the hot and dry weather.
The coming days will be cooler, with overcast skies, occasional rain showers and daytime highs of around 21 degrees Celsius.