Czech lawmakers in the lower house on Friday succeeded in passing a bill recognising resistance fighters who opposed Czechoslovakia’s Communist regime. The bill passed in a first reading. Under the proposal, members of the third resistance could receive the status of war veterans and receive compensation accordingly. Compensation would be based on the level of past activity, and eligibility would be determined by the Defence Ministry in cooperation with the country’s Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. InThe bill will now be debated by committees in the Chamber of Deputies over three months instead of the regular two.
In related news, the MP and former head of the Communist Party Miroslav Grebeníček railed against the bill in the lower house on Friday, calling it a ‘political adoration of past terrorist acts’ and saying members of the resistance had often been ‘immature adventurers’. Mr Grebeníček, who led the Communists from 1993 to 2005, spoke for 60 or so minutes, drawing protest from government MPs, who then walked out. The passing of the bill on Friday was opposed by the Communists together with seven members of the opposition Social Democratic Party. Many Social Democrats, however, took issue with details in the bill or how it was formulated, even if they gave it their backing.
A regional court has ordered the Teaching Hospital in Hradec Kralové, East Bohemia, to pay three million crowns in damages to the parents of a baby girl who was paralysed for life after catching an infection in a hospital incubator. The parents originally sought twice the amount in compensation. The child, born prematurely with her twin sister, suffered irreversible brain damage after catching the infection and now requires permanent medical attention, the parents said. In recent years, Czech courts have had to address similar complaints regarding hospitals: in 2009 a hospital in Semily, East Bohemia, had to pay a more than half a million crowns to the parents of a four-year-old boy who died following routine surgery. In another case, a court ruled that the Na Bulovce Teaching Hospital in Prague had to pay 12 million crowns to parents whose son suffered serious brain damage after undergoing an operation.
The Health Minister Leoš Heger and representatives of hospital doctors unhappy over current wages have laid the groundwork for a possible agreement to try and avert a major healthcare crisis. Some 3,800 hospital doctors who handed in their notice earlier this year as part of an organised campaign to protest low wages, will leave their jobs at the beginning of March unless some kind of consensus is reached. Minister Heger said on Friday that he and trade union representatives had discussed a number of key areas, although the proposed pay rise is still a point of contention. The health minister has offered a rise in wages between 5,000 – 8,000 crowns a month, while the doctors are asking for 8,000 – 12,000. The health minister has made concessions on a number of points, including offering changes to doctors’ salary scales to meet trade unions’ demands. Further negotiations are set to continue on Monday.
Czech customs officers may be allowed to use electroshock weapons as well as stun grenades against aggressors, according to an amendment which passed in the lower house on Friday. Currently, the police use the items for example against football hooligans. The bill will also specify more closely the rules for customs officers' use of cover identities while conducting investigations. In cases, false ID will be issued by the Interior Ministry to help conduct criminal investigations, although agents will not be allowed to take another person’s identity, living or dead. The amendment also covers customs officers’ use of X-ray screening tools to conduct checks on vehicles. The Senate will now take up the bill for debate.
Czech poet and specialist in theatre Prokop Voskovec has died. The 69-year-old, who was the nephew of famous 20th century Czech actor Jiri Voskovec, succumbed to a long illness. Mr Voskovec was born in Prague; in the 1960s he had close ties to Surrealists circles around Vratislav Effenberger. In 1977, he signed the Charter 77 petition calling on Communist Czechoslovakia’s government to respect human rights. Two years later he lost his Czechoslovak citizenship and left the country for France. Mr Voskovec wrote not only poetry but also essays and did translations from French.
Police in the district of Prague 1 on Friday detained two men, possibly homeless, on suspicion of stealing metal from building rooftops. In two incidents, witnesses informed the police they heard sounds of someone on the roof. One incident took place in V Cípu street, another across from Kramář villa, used for meetings by the prime minister. It is believed the men stole copper covers to later try and sell. The police are currently evaluating the cost of the material taken.
Montreal Canadiens forward Tomáš Plekanec scored his 19th goal of the season in the NHL on Thursday but it wasn’t enough to help his team defeat the New York Islanders. His goal in the second period gave the Habs the go-ahead (3:2), but the Islanders were able to tie in the 3rd and won on penalties. In productivity Plekanec is only one point behind current top Czech player Martin Havlát.
The Czech national hockey team lost 6:1 to Sweden in Stockholm on Thursday, in another leg of the Euro Hockey Tour. The Czechs were only able keep up with the hosts in the first period when Petr Průcha scored the Czech team’s only goal. But serious flaws in defense allowed the Swedes to build an unassailable lead. The Czechs were missing some key players but showed one of their worst performances this season. The Czech national team will play Finland and Russia over the weekend.
Czech player Petra Kvitová defeated Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Open Gaz de France. She will face either Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States or Andrea Petkovic of Germany next. The player lost the first set to Wickmayer but broke for a 4-3 lead in the second. Kvitova evened the match on a double fault from the seventh-seeded Belgian. Kvitova took a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker in the third, and converted her second match point.
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