The Ministry of Education is planning to pay out 100,000 crowns to students who were expelled for political reasons during the later communist era. Around 1,400 people are estimated to have been expelled as a result of political persecution between 1956 and 1989, often because of views expressed by family members. Nearly a thousand students thus disadvantaged during the major years of repression, 1948 to 1956, have already been compensated with a total 90.5 million.
The Chamber of Czech Doctors says that its cooperation with the Ministry of Health is not working. Speaking at the start of a conference of the chamber in Brno on Saturday, its president, Milan Kubek, criticised Health Minister Leoš Heger for reneging on an agreement to raise the salaries of health care workers by ten percent. Health care report is the main topic of discussion at the weekend conference, which is being attended by 46,000 doctors from across the country. Minister Heger will also be holding discussions with the doctors.
Over a hundred people participated in a walk through Prague on Saturday to raise awareness of child abuse. The event was organized by the Our Children foundation to draw attention to the increasing number of abused and otherwise mistreated children each year. The foundation says that the number of such cases grew between 2009 and 2010 by more than a thousand to 5787 reports.
Hundreds of people – among them musicians and government officials – gathered in the South Bohemian village of Kostelní Vydří on Saturday to pay their last respects to dissident poet Ivan Martin Jirous, who died last week. A prayer was read by Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. Defense Minister and former dissident Alexandr Vondra, also in attendance, called Jirous a very important person without whom a tough period would have been even tougher. Ivan Jirous (nicknamed Magor, or ‘Maniac’) is perhaps best-known as the artistic manager and spiritual leader of the underground rock band The Plastic People of the Universe. His battles with the communist regime resulted in eight and a half years behind bars. He was 67 years old.
General Secretary of the OECD Ángel Gurría says that the Czech government’s reforms are going in the right direction, but still have much to surmount. Mr Gurría visited Prague on Friday and offered the government a list of recommendations for improving the economic situation in the country, among them a number of health care proposals. The OECD recommends decreasing ‘excess capacities’ in hospitals, spending less on medicines and digitalizing medical documentation. The General Secretary also praised the effect of the new Labour Code on the labour market, consumption taxation and the government’s cooperation with its economic council, NERV.
TOP 09 parliamentary club chairman Petr Gazdík says that higher taxes for the richest citizens is a possibility, given the current economic situation. In an interview for Saturday’s edition of the newspaper Právo, Mr Gazdík said that in a worst-case scenario where pensions or families’ standards of living were reduced, he could not imagine that taxes would not be raised for the wealthiest. In the event of a crisis that would heavily decrease the effectiveness of the economy, he said, then ideological issues such as not raising direct taxes would not apply.
Mr Kubek also told the doctors’ conference that the chamber had learned of at least 30 cases where young physicians were working under conditions of “slavery” in Czech healthcare facilities. He said that the need to accumulate experience after their studies leads young doctors to work long hours for inadequate remuneration that is impermissible under the law. The Ministry of Labour has apparently inspected the situation but has not yet published its results.
Nearly two-thirds of Czechs believe the country’s international esteem is decreasing, according to an October poll published by the STEM agency. The polling agency says that opinion, held by 62% of respondents, is the most negative attitude towards the country’s international reputation yet recorded. Nonetheless, more than half of those questioned said that the Czech Republic’s foreign policy is essentially good. Those most critical of Czech foreign policy, according to the poll, were left-wing voters, particularly Communist Party sympathisers. Those most optimistic about the country’s prestige abroad favoured the senior government party, the Civic Democrats.
Police arrested 17 people at demonstrations of right-wing extremist groups on Thursday’s national holiday. Ten people out of a group of about 50 were detained after a demonstration of the Workers’ Party for Social Justice )the successor of the banned neo-Nazi Workers’ Party) when they attempted to cross the river where an opposing demonstration was taking place and were deterred by police. A group of young people then began throwing fireworks at officers. Seven other people were arrested during the demonstration itself for possession of fireworks. No problems were reported at the day’s main protests, a demonstration of some 2,000 people against the current centre-right government and its reform plans. November 17 marked 22 years since the beginning of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, which brought down the country’s Communist regime.
President Václav Klaus has vetoed a bill introducing criminal liability for companies. The Czech centre-right government considers the bill an important tool in curbing corruption. However, Mr Klaus maintains that the legislation ignores the link between a crime and its perpetrators, and is an example of shirking responsibility, adding that the bill was part of a fashionable trend to criminalize corporations. Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil rejected Mr Klaus’ claims, and said he hoped coalition MPs will overturn the presidential veto when the bill returns to Parliament. The Czech Republic is the only EU member state without such legislation.
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Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott
In memoriam: Karel Gott, the ‘Bohemian nightingale’