Doctors around the country closed down their offices on Thursday in
protest at late payments from the state-run health insurance company VZP.
Around a fifteen hundred demonstrators gathered in front of the Health
Ministry building in Prague in support of the private doctors' strike. The
doctors were joined in the demonstration by pharmacists and dentists, and
by some politicians from the right-wing opposition Civic Democrats.
During the protest there were calls for the resignation of the Health Minister Milada Emmerova, who was blamed for the current cash-flow crisis. Talks between Mrs Emmerova and doctors are to continue after a two-hour meeting on Thursday afternoon ended in deadlock.
On the eve of Thursday's scheduled doctors' strike, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek called on the private practitioners to cancel their strike. After Wednesday's negotiations with health insurance companies, Mr Paroubek said he expected some accommodating steps from them, too. Private doctors in the Czech Republic are going to strike on Thursday over chronically late payments from the state-run insurance company VZP.
Police detained the suspected murderer of TV Nova technician Michal Velisek on Tuesday night. David Lubina, 31, confessed to the murder in Prague's central Karlovo namesti square on September 13. Lubina was charged with murder and extortion. According to police, Lubina harassed a young woman in the square. When Velisek came forward to assist the woman, the attacker shot him in the arm, and continued shooting after Velisek fell to the ground. Michal Velisek, a father of a one-year-old daughter, did not survive the attack.
The chairman of the opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, has said his party will support a Senate-proposed amendment to the criminal code banning all promotion of the communist ideology. The amendment was initiated by a group of opposition Senators and a movement called "Let's Ban the Communists". Mr Topolanek said he didn't wish the Communists to return to power after next year's elections. He said however that the amendment would probably be refused by the lower house where the leftist parties, the Communists and the Social Democrats, have a majority of 11 seats. The Communist Party currently enjoys some 13.5 percent of voter support.
According to a report by the UN Children's Fund released on Wednesday disabled children in Eastern Europe continue to be confined in segregated facilities and special schools, suffering from stigma and discrimination. The report says that although the approach to disabled children in the region has been improving, there is not enough state support. Experts say that the fact that so many children are placed in institutions reflects economic desperation which leads struggling families to put their children in care for want of alternatives, as well as a traditional communist-era attitude that institutionalisation is the best solution.
The Radio and Television Broadcasting Council has decided to fine the commercial TV stations Prima and Nova for the content of their respective reality shows, VyVoleni and Big Brother. TV Prima was fined 5 million crowns (200,000 dollars) and TV Nova will have to pay 4 million. According to council chairman Petr Pospichal, both channels broke the law by broadcasting scenes potentially threatening the moral development of juveniles before 10 pm.
The government has decided to award the Czech Brain prize to Armin Delong, the founder of electron miscroscopy and initiator of the production of world-competitive electron microscopes. Together with the award Professor Delong will receive one million crowns (over 40,000 dollars). Armin Delong, 80, is best-known for his pioneering work in holography, emission electron microscopy and slow electron microscopy. Most recently he has focused on low-voltage scanning microscopy which is used in biology.
A last minute attempt by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek to avert a one day strike by general practitioners scheduled for Thursday appears to have failed. Private physicians have called the strike in protest of the poor payment morale of some insurance companies, which they claim to be so bad it is threatening their livelihood. The prime minister met with a delegation of physicians on Monday night to try and find a way of resolving the sectors financing problems but he said he would not be pressured into sacking the health minister Milada Emmerova whom many doctors blame for the crisis.
The Dutch retail giant Ahold has said it had completed the acquisition of 67 Julius Meinl stores in the Czech Republic. It did not specify the amount paid for them. The company announced the acquisition plan in August of this year and obtained approval from the Czech anti-monopoly office in September.
Iraq has asked for the Czech military police contingent stationed in Basra
to extend its stay in the country. Visiting Iraqi President Jalal Talabani
made the request during talks with the Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek
on Tuesday. The Iraqi president said that Czech military police
instructors had an excellent reputation in his country and Iraq would
appreciate if the training could continue for another year. The Czech
Parliament is expected to vote on extending the contingent's mission.
President Talabani began an official tour of Europe on Monday with the Czech Republic as his first port of call. At a state dinner given in his honour at Prague Castle he and President Vaclav Klaus discussed the situation in Irak and the Czech role in ongoing reconstruction efforts. The Czech Republic has earmarked 1.9 billion crowns or 78 million dollars on the reconstruction of Iraq. Part of the money was spent on humanitarian aid, the operation of a Czech field hospital in Basra and a training programme for Iraqi police officers.
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