Meanwhile, the government of outgoing Prime Minister Jan Fischer, who has formally resigned but continues to head the cabinet, has decided to provide an additional 25 million crowns in damages to persons excluded from higher education for political reasons between the years 1948 and 1956. Mr Fischer said that the compensation was a moral issue, and that it would be paid for from the government’s budget reserve. Persons who were denied higher education on political grounds during that eight year period can claim up to 100,000 crowns in damages. While the Ministry of Education originally believed that there are still roughly 500 such people, nearly twice as many have applied thus far.
President Václav Klaus has appointed Civic Democrat leader Petr Nečas as the country’s new prime minister, exactly one month after parties holding talks on forming a centre-right coalition won a decisive 118 seats in the general election. Mr Nečas was appointed by the president at Prague Castle on Monday shortly after 10 am. The Civic Democrat leader – in negotiations with two new parties TOP 09 and Public Affairs – will now have some time to put together the new centre-right cabinet before the start of a 30-day deadline by which the new government is bound to seek a confidence vote in Parliament. Mr Nečas has been pushing to conclude negotiations with the other parties by mid-July but negotiating teams have yet to agree on concrete ministerial posts as well as numerous key issues.
The Office for International Legal Protection of Children has reported that 500 children were adopted in the Czech Republic in 2009 child and 100 were returned to the orphanage during that year. The organisation says that international adoptions have been far more successful, with only three out of 323 children being returned over the last ten years. According to the director of the office, Zdeněk Kapitán, foreign adoptions are more successful because the Czech Republic only cooperates with countries with very thorough adoption policies, while the domestic policies do not involve as careful a selection of adopting couples or provide as much support.
The Supreme Audit Office of the Czech Republic has reported that the army purchased an unsuitable military plane for more than 142% of its actual price in 2006. According to the report, an unmanned reconnaissance helicopter was ordered for the Afghanistan mission at a cost of 46 million before a different machine was purchased for 66 million. The acquired drone was then found to be unsuitable for the mission in question due to its short flying time and range. The government is to review the report on Monday.
The Public Affairs party told reporters ahead of Monday-evening coalition negotiations that they are sticking to their demand that their chairman, Radek John, head the interior ministry and that an offer to include counter-corruption measures in the coalition agreement would not suffice. The evening’s negotiations are to focus on law and corruption. Public Affairs negotiator Karolína Peake said that the talks would not be dealing with the party’s weekend declaration that they would stay out of the coalition if they were not given the portfolio. The party’s deputy Krystýna Kočí said on Sunday that being in charge of the interior ministry was one of the party’s absolute priorities in view of the fact that the fight against corruption was the mainstay of its policy programme. Members of the other two coalition parties dismissed the move as unprofessional.
The newly appointed Archbishop of Prague Dominik Duka is to visit the Vatican on Tuesday where the Pope will present him with a pallium, a vestment symbolizing the jurisdiction delegated to him by the Holy See. The former bishop of Hradec Kralove took over the Prague archdiocese on April 10th, replacing Miloslav Vlk who resigned on the grounds of advanced age. Archbishop Duka is seen as a man of consensus who may improve relations between the Church and state in the largely atheist Czech Republic. In May he put an end to an 18-year-long legal battle with the state over the ownership of St. Vitus Cathedral by withdrawing the Catholic Church’s property claim and accepting a proposal for joint administration.
The region of Olomouc is to discontinue its coverage of patients’ healthcare fees as of July 1. The regional council made the decision on Monday based on a proposal from community councillors. The governor’s office has been covering the 30-crown fee since early last year at a cost of 42 million crowns. Healthcare fees of 30 crowns at the doctor’s and for individual prescriptions, as well as higher amounts for emergency ward visits and hospital stays, were first introduced by Mirek Topolánek’s government in 2008. Earlier this month, coverage by regional governments was labelled “discriminatory” by the European Commission, which said that either all patients in the country should be covered – or none.
A passenger train has derailed in the central Bohemian town of Ústí nad Labem killing the engineer and injuring 11 people, the Czech Press Agency has reported. Two people are reported to be seriously injured but stable, while another four are in moderately serious condition. The CityElefant-type train was on its way to Ústí nad Labem from Prague when it seems to have derailed on a point switch and tipped over, slamming into a concrete wall that tore through the front of the locomotive only a few hundred metres from its destination.
Mr Nečas said after the appointment that he will not be making use of several of the benefits available to him in his new position. The new prime minister said that he would not be using bodyguards, as he was not in any specific danger and had never had any in his previous posts. Likewise he does not intend to use the Kramář Villa, which has served as the official residence for all prime ministers except Jan Fischer since 1998. He also declined to use the Audi government vehicle available to him, saying he would continue to use a Czech-made vehicle.
Prague police have arrested a taxi driver and her boyfriend who they say have confessed to brutally beating and robbing a customer. A police spokeswoman said that the woman had physically attacked the passenger when he did not pay the full fare; she then took his telephone and drove to the home of her boyfriend who was waiting outside with a club and severely beat the passenger. The victim suffered serious injuries requiring several weeks in hospital. Due to that fact, the attackers could face up to 12 years in prison.
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