Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has admitted the country’s new system of healthcare fees may see changes following detailed analysis. Speaking on a TV debate programme on Sunday he said that he was willing to make some concessions on the issue but stressed that the more exceptions there were, the less effective the system would be. Fees for visits to the doctor’s, hospitals, and emergency wards were introduced in January as part of the government’s reform package. Since then, they have been strongly criticised by the opposition. This week a deputy leader of coalition member the Christian Democrats put forward her own proposal for the abolishment of fees for newborns in hospitals, a proposal the prime minister expects will be withdrawn.
The Czech bank Česká spořitelna has filed charges against unknown perpetrators for launching a massive wave of fraudulent emails targeting its customers this week. The emails, part of so-called “phishing”, are aimed to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information such as PIN codes or credit card numbers. Earlier in the week, Česká spořitelna representatives revealed that six people in the country had responded to the fraudulent emails, with three suffering damages. The bank is now helping them to file claims to try and recover lost funds. In addition, the bank has taken out ads in the country papers to further warn customers not to reply to emails asking for private information.
Demonstrators are to gather on Sunday evening before the Chinese Embassy in Prague to protest a crackdown by the Chinese military and police in Tibet. Friday saw the eruption of riots in Lhasa after a week of mostly peaceful protests. The official Chinese news agency has reported at least 10 deaths in incidents but the Tibetan government in exile has said the number of those killed is far higher: at least 80 individuals. Sunday’s protest in Prague is being organised by the Green Party along with a number of non-governmental human rights organisations.
Czech daily Lidové noviny has been investigating a Norwegian report about a possible CIA plane landing in Tuřany, Brno. The report – filed by Norwegian daily Aftenposten - stated that a small Beechwood 350C, thought to be used by the Central Intelligence Agency, stopped for refuelling at the airport in Brno on Thursday before continuing on to destinations in Norway and Iceland. A Norwegian MP has called for an investigation, saying there was reason to believe such flights were used for the illegal transport of prisoners. In the Czech Republic, the Czech counter-intelligence service, as well as Czech Interior Minister Ivan Langer, declined to confirm the flight for Lidové noviny. Mr Langer told the Czech paper that “if such an incident had taken place, he would have hoped to have been informed”.
20-year-old Zuzana Jandová, a native of eastern Moravia, has been chosen Miss Czech Republic - the 20th winner since the beauty pageant was first held. The competition final was held on Saturday, broadcast from the country’s second-largest city Brno. The pageant’s president, Miloslav Zapletal, announced during the broadcast he would be stepping down as the competition’s head. Miss Ceské republiky is one of two major beauty pageants held annually in the Czech Republic, the other being Česká miss - founded in 2005.
Romani guitarist and songwriter Ján Ačo Slepčík has died at the age of 58. The news was revealed by an associate at Charles University on Sunday. Slepčík, born in Pardubice, east Bohemia, founded his first band, Terne Čhave (Young Men) in Slovakia at the age of just 14. Later, he relocated to Prague in the 1980s, befriending Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, and working with musicians like jazz artist Jiří Stivín and others. In recent years, Mr Slepčík took part in numerous events, including a performance at the Respekt festival in Prague. In 2004 he recorded the solo album “Gipsy Songs”.
The charred remains of a 49-year-old man who was reported missing in Germany have been uncovered near Toužim, near the west Bohemian town of Karlovy Vary. The information was released by a regional police spokeswoman. The man had been missing since March 13. A vehicle with German licence plates, containing personal belongings and an empty fuel canister, was located near the remains. An autopsy to determine the exact cause of death has been ordered by the authorities.
Fans of football club Ostrava visiting Olomouc went on a rampage on Saturday at the home team’s football stadium, setting seats on fire and fighting with police. One fan was detained for giving the banned Nazi salute, five were arrested for alleged attacks on a public officer. Four others were sent to sobering-up stations. Ordinarily, Olomouc only releases 500 seats to guest fans but made an exception for Saturday’s game, releasing just under 4,000 tickets. Damages from the rampage have been estimated at 100,000 crowns.
Czech defenseman Roman Hamrlík scored the opening goal as well as the
game-winner for the Montreal Canadiens, who defeated the New York
3-0 in hockey action on Saturday. The goal is Hamrlík’s fifth of the
season. The Canadiens are currently second in the Eastern Division behind
New Jersey - fifth in the overall league standings.
In other NHL action on Saturday, the Buffalo Sabres’ Aleš Kotalík retained his scoring touch from one day earlier, opening the scoring for Buffalo against Toronto. The Sabres added five more to down the Leafs 6-2.
Opponents of a planned US radar base in the Czech Republic – part of a proposed US missile defense shield in Europe – gathered in a demonstration on Saturday in the Czech capital. By police estimates several hundred met in Prague’s Malá strana district to make their way to the US Embassy. Organisers’ estimates were higher: around 1,200 present. Earlier, the demonstration - organised by the No to Bases initiative - received backing from the opposition Social Democrats as well as the Communists. A number of well-known opposition politicians – including former foreign minister Jan Kavan – also took part. Protestors reportedly demonstrated not only against the US radar on Czech soil but also against continued military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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