- Czech President Václav Klaus has said that Switzerland’s planned immigration quota should not apply to Czech citizens.
- The government has upheld its diesel fuel tax rebate program for a year longer than planned.
- Dozens of demonstrators from the Stop the Government platform gathered for a protest outside the Health Ministry on Monday.
- An EU-funded regional development program for north-western Bohemia has been frozen.
- Representatives of the Central Bohemian region have elected Zuzana Moravčíková the new governor.
Czech president: Swiss immigration quota should not apply to Czechs
Speaking after a meeting with Swiss President Evelin Widmer-Schlumpf, Czech President Václav Klaus said that Switzerland’s planned immigration quota should not apply to all newer EU member states. The Czech head of state said the problems that Switzerland was seeking to address by restricting migration from certain countries did not apply to Czech immigrants. Mr Klaus’s Swiss counterpart was on an official visit to the Czech Republic on Monday. She argues that such a quota is necessary since social tensions have increased in certain regions of Switzerland due to an influx in immigration. Mrs Widmer-Schlumpf has stressed that the new regulation is a short-term one and will most likely only apply for a time span of two years.
Government upholds diesel fuel tax rebate program
The government has decided to uphold its diesel fuel tax rebate program for Czech farmers until the year 2014, Prime Minister Petr Nečas said on Monday. However, rebate conditions will become less lucrative for farmers starting next year, when agricultural workers will only be able to claim 40 percent of their diesel fuel expenses back, as opposed to the current rate of 60 percent. Originally, the government had planned to discontinue the program in 2013; farmers protested by slowing down traffic.
Protesters gather in front of Health Ministry
About fifty protesters gathered for a happening outside the Health Ministry on Monday. Union members, patients and disabled demonstrators who joined the protest, which was organized by the Stop the Government platform, oppose the government’s planned health care reforms. Among the steps they criticize is a new regulation under which patients can pay extra for a doctor of their choice. Health Minister Leoš Heger discussed the planned reform with the demonstrators in front of his ministry.
The event is part of a series of “blockades” that will take place in front of five ministries in June, in protest of the government’s reforms and austerity measures. Last week, only about a dozen protesters gathered in front of the Education and Culture ministries; a planned blockade failed for lack of participants. Prime Minister Petr Nečas has slammed the protest, saying that to block employees’ access to their place of work is in violation of the law.
Ministries freeze regional development program
The Ministry of Regional Development and the Ministry of Finance have frozen an EU-funded regional development program for the north-western region of Bohemia. Regional Development Minister Kamil Jankovský said at a news conference on Monday that while certain irregularities may have been the fault of individuals, a systemic cause cannot be ruled out. The minister added that one of the reasons behind the freeze of the program was the criminal investigation of its former director. Auditors from Brussels arrived in the Czech Republic on Monday and are currently looking into possible irregularities in securing EU funds.
Central Bohemia representatives to select replacement governor
Representatives of the region of Central Bohemia on Monday elected Zuzana Moravčíková the new governor. She replaces former governor David Rath, who stepped down nearly three weeks ago after he was arrested and charged with corruption. Following her election, she said that she would like to involve the opposition in important decisions and grant them more influence in the decision-making process. However, the opposition parties did not support Mrs Moravčíková and were pushing for the resignation of all regional councilors due to their connections with Mr Rath’s administration.
Prague City Court sentences controversial entrepreneur to three years in prison
Prague City Court on Monday dealt a three-year prison sentence to controversial entrepreneur Tomáš Pitr for embezzlement as well as tax fraud. Security during the trial was heightened; the defendant wore a bullet-proof vest for the duration of the trial. Mr Pitr has already served two years in prison; other cases of tax fraud that he is suspected of will be the subject of a new trial that is set to open soon. In 2006, Mr Pitr was sentenced to five years in prison for tax fraud. He fled the country in 2007 and was extradited back to the Czech Republic from Switzerland in April.
Upper-circuit court upholds 15-year-sentence for husband of best-selling author
An upper-circuit court in Olomouc has upheld a 15-year prison sentence for the husband of writer Simona Monyová. The court ruled on Monday that Boris Ingr, who was charged with killing his wife, will be sent to prison for 15 years, a decision which he had appealed. In August of last year, the 46-year-old Mr Ingr attacked his wife, who was a best-selling author, with a knife and stabbed her six times. She died from the injuries.
Survey: Students perceive Romany minority, unemployment and general political situation as problematic
According to a fresh survey by the Milward Brown agency, students of Czech secondary schools believe that there are three main problems in the Czech Republic. The poll found that the majority of the 1100 respondents believe the relationship between mainstream Czechs and Romanies is especially problematic; unemployment and politics in general were also cited as factors that make life in this country more difficult. Commenting on the result, sociologist Ivan Gabal said that Czech secondary school students are even more rigid and prejudiced towards the Romany minority than most adults. Frustration with politics is also on the rise and an increasing number of students would vote for radical parties. Some 12 percent would give their vote to the far-right Workers’ Party for Social Justice, while 13 percent would cast their ballot in favor of the Czech Pirate Party, the survey found.
Police bust illegal CD and DVD plant
Police have busted an illegal CD and DVD plant in Prague. Customs officers on Friday raided the plant, where they confiscated some 8000 bootleg CDs and DVDs. A police spokeswoman said on Monday that two messengers involved in the illegal operation were arrested in the Moravian city of Znojmo. Three suspects have been charged in connection with the case. If found guilty, they could face prison sentences of up to five years.
Fans cheer on national team during training session ahead of Euro 2012 championships
Some 3000 fans came to watch the Czech national team during their first training session in the Polish city of Wrocław ahead of the UEFA Euro 2012 football championship which kicks off on June 8. Fans cheered as the national team entered the field of the stadium, which has a capacity of 8000. Among the members on the squad is team captain Tomáš Rosický, as well as Chelsea’s goalie star Petr Čech. The Czech Republic faces Russia on June 8, Greece on June 12, and Poland on June 16.
Overcast skies with daytime highs of up to 20 degrees and scattered showers are expected to last until the middle of the week.