The UBS police, fire fighter, and prison wardens’ trade union has said it may follow an example set by the country’s hospital doctors and organise a similar campaign threatening mass resignations. The trade union head Miloš Plechaty said on Sunday that such a plan could go ahead if a petition calling for the resignation of Interior Minister Radek John failed. Police trade unions across the board have criticised budget cuts at the Interior Ministry, but other union leaders called the idea of police threatening to leave en masse “premature”. Meanwhile, their petition against Mr John will go online on Tuesday. The embattled minister on Sunday defended steps he has taken, saying he had asked for extra funds from the government and secured an extra 2.2 billion crowns. Appearing on a TV debate programme, he argued that any petition needed to be aimed not at him but at the government as a whole.
Interior Minister Radek John has said that the government will name a new human rights and minorities commissioner in the coming days. The post has been empty for months, after the former commissioner Michael Kocáb was recalled. Speaking on Czech TV on Sunday, Minister John said he had been told a concrete name by the prime minster, as had Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who reportedly gave his backing. According to reports, the candidate for the post is a woman. Last autumn, there was speculation the job could be given to former Green Party MP Kateřina Jacques, but that was flatly denied by Prime Minister Nečas.
Private hospitals have expressed an interest in taking over regional hospitals that would be forced to reduce healthcare services or even close if 3,800 doctors unsatisfied with wages make good on their threat to leave as of March 1. The health minister is continuing to negotiate with doctors’ representatives to avoid such a scenario but no breakthrough has been reached yet. There are 70 private hospitals in the Czech Republic that manage 15 percent of the country’s hospital beds; they also provide care in most medical branches. The Agel chain of medical facilities is one to have expressed an interest in taking over in areas. On Sunday, the governor for central Bohemia, David Rath, said no state-run hospital was for sale in his region but admitted privatisation – sparked by mass departures – could take place in other areas.
A baby girl, only a few hours old, was left in a baby box in the Šumperk region on Sunday. The system alerted healthcare personnel at 9 am and within a minute the newborn was in a nurse’s arms. The child is the 42nd saved through the baby box system (which operates as a heated incubator) since it was first implemented in the Czech Republic. Of the 42 children saved, 27 have been girls and 15 boys. The Šumperk box has been in place since 2009: the baby left on Sunday is the first to have been left at that facility.
Two people, a man and woman, both 20, were seriously injured in the town of Zlín on Sunday morning when they were struck by a car as they attempted to cross the street. A witness, the girl’s sister, said both were thrown far from the vehicle from the force of the collision. It was later confirmed they had suffered concussions along with other injuries; both were taken to hospital. The driver of the car and the witness to the accident were both treated for post-traumatic shock. The police are investigating the circumstances of the accident but have ruled out alcohol as a factor.
A five-year-old girl drowned in the Bruntál area on Sunday. She and another child had been playing on the shore of a local pond when she fell in. The other child ran for help, and parents - as well as the police – tried to revive the dying girl. The child was air-lifted still in critical condition but passed away in hospital some time afterwards.
The Australian Open winner and World No. 1 in women’s tennis, Kim Clijsters, proved unable to stop Czech player Petra Kvitová in the Open Gaz de France final in Paris on Sunday. The 20-year-old Kvitová continued in top form and was able to seal her win in straight sets: the final score was 6:4, 6:3. The Paris title is the third WTA title in Kvitová’s career.
The Czech national hockey team was able to clinch only one point in the Euro Hockey Tour in Sweden, finishing last. After losing heavily to Sweden, then to Finland in overtime, the Czechs also lost their final match against Russia. The score was 4:2. Both the team’s captain, as well as the coach, expressed deep disappointment over the team’s overall play in the tournament.
The acting head of the Social Democratic Party, Bohuslav Sobotka, has warned fellow Social Democrats not to qualify junior government party Public Affairs as a future coalition partner. He issued the warning in a report to the Social Democrat leadership. Spelling out his vision for his own party, Mr Sobotka said that Social Democrats needed to act as a radical opposition and alternative to the current government. Mr Sobotka is running for the post of party chairman next month against South Moravian governor and MP Michal Hašek. The latter has taken a somewhat more conciliatory approach on the political scene: not long ago, he said that the Social Democrats needed to build up their coalition potential, referring to events last May, when the party narrowly won the national election but was unable to form a coalition.
The Czech newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes has reported that the Defence Ministry bought overpriced and unneeded military technology, citing the results of a recent audit examining ministry spending. According to the daily, in 2000 the ministry ordered radiolocation equipment for 67 million crowns – equipment which it allegedly knew would not have practical applications. In 2007, the system was then sold to a private firm for just 188,000 crowns, Mf Dnes said. The newspaper reported that the then head of the general staff, Pavel Štefka, issued the order for the system to be sold off and pointed out the tender was won by a company represented by a brigadier general who was an acquaintance of the general staff head. The daily has called the circumstances of the tender startling; both Mr Štefka and the brigadier general in question, Michal Pažur, have said they no longer recall the terms of the deal.
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