Russian President Dmitri Medvedev arrives in Prague on Wednesday at the invitation of Czech President Václav Klaus. His short visit will entail primarily meetings with President Klaus, who is often noted for his warm attitude towards Russia, and later on Thursday with Prime Minister Petr Nečas. There is plenty on the table for discussion among Czech and Russian leaders, namely business deals and Russia’s bid for the tender to complete the Temelín nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. Many of the milestones in the last decade of Czech-Russian relations
In Business News this week: the Czech Finance Minister warns of disastrous consequences the fall of the euro would have for Czech economy; Czech banks pass new stress tests but Moody’s downgrades their outlook to ‘negative’; Westinghouse signs cooperation deal with Vítkovice engineering firm; Škoda Auto announces plans to develop a new SUV model; and Nová Paka in eastern Bohemia is named the Czech town for business.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade is considering cancelling a long-running health subsidy for miners, the daily Právo reports. The subsidy entails 1,500 to 1,900 crowns in compensation per month paid by the employer to miners who leave their jobs for health reasons and has been in place since 1993. The cancellation of the subsidy would change nothing in the state’s budget but would mean savings of up to 50 million crowns for large coal mining companies. According to documents that the paper says it possesses, the ministry believes the subsidy reflects a time when miners faced worse conditions in their work environments and a greater risk of illness. The miners’ union, which is protesting the move, says that hardly anything has changed in that time and that the idea is needless provocation.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has offered German Chancellor Angela Merkel a public debate on the completion of the Temelín nuclear power plant in south Bohemia. Czech Radio reported that the prime minister had written Chancellor Merkel a letter saying that Czech-German relations and cooperation in the energy sector and beyond would be strengthened by a unified approach to the issue. Mr Nečas is to meet with Bavarian Minister-President Horst Seehofer on Wednesday evening and will discuss how to make the sensitive issue of Temelín as transparent as possible.
Pre-fabricated apartment blocs known in the Czech Republic as paneláky (panel buildings) were once the Soviet ideal and countless thousands were built in Czechoslovakia from the 1950s until 1989. Now, for the first time, one such bloc of homes will be demolished strictly for aesthetic reasons. The Southeast Bohemian town of Havlíčkův Brod has confirmed that a low-rise smack in the town centre – considered an eyesore for years – will soon be a thing of the past.
Industrial companies in the Moravia-Silesia Region have reported losses in tens of millions of crowns as a result of production restrictions imposed on them in the past couple of weeks due to air pollution in the region. The largest polluters are obliged to reduce production when meteorologists declare smog regulation measures. Some companies voluntarily reduce production when only a smog alert is declared. In the Ostrava and Karviná districts, a smog alert was first declared on October 31st and called off on Monday morning.
A team of seventeen experts from eight different countries have begun a regular peer review at the Temelín nuclear power station in South Bohemia. The safety tests organized by the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) will go on for two weeks and will focus on ten different areas, including radiation and fire protection, accident planning and daily operation of the plant. The World Association of Nuclear Operators was founded in 1989 after the Chernobyl accident as a platform for exchanging experience and information. It brings together all organizations in the world operating nuclear power generating stations.
In related news, Civic Democrat MP and the vice-chair of the lower house’s influential budget committee, Michal Doktor, on Wednesday left his party in protest against the appointment of the new industry and trade minister. Mr Doktor, who was among the candidates for the post, told reporters that the new minister, Martin Kuba, was a great liability to the party due to his ties to unofficial power structures. However, Mr Doktor said he would continue to support the centre-right government in the lower house.