Civic Democrat Boris Šťastný resigned from his post as chairman of the party’s Prague branch on Friday evening. The news came after a meeting of Prague Civic Democrats with the party’s national chairman, Prime Minister Petr Nečas. Prague City Hall has undergone sweeping changes since last week, when Mr Šťastný unexpectedly ended the grand coalition with the Social Democrats, in a move that many have speculated was aimed at removing fellow Civic Democrat Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda. Mr Svoboda, however, found the backing in his party to form a new coalition with TOP 09. The head of the Prague chapter of the Social Democratic Party, Petr Hulinský, is also expected to leave his position next week.
The Minister of Culture, Jiří Besser, failed to claim his co-ownership in a US-based company and property in Florida worth 230,000 dollars, the website Insider reports. The minister says that he had informed his partners in Comoros Group that he would be leaving the company, and had only recently found that he was still registered as a partner. The news site Aktuálně.cz also reported on Friday that Mr Besser’s partner in the company, Pavel Hrách, was convicted one month ago of bribing the manager of a consolidation agency. Mr Besser has said the company never undertook any business activity and generated no profit, but says he is prepared to take legal responsibility for his oversights.
Insulation panels that could release asbestos are in at least 293 schools, the Czech School Inspectorate reports. The city hall in České Budějovice closed three primary schools in a housing estate this week after health workers discovered the presence of asbestos. The number comes from a questionnaire sent to 8,500 schools, asking whether the panels were used in the their construction and whether recent renovations have taken place that could have disturbed the panels. The result is preliminary and an analysis will be carried out next week.
The Czech government has agreed to send 30 military medical specialists to Slovakia, where doctors are quitting en masse in a labour dispute over low salaries. The reinforcements will reportedly include 11 surgeons, 10 anaesthesiologists, and a number of traumatologists, X-ray specialists and others. The Czech Press Agency reports that the costs of the assistance will be split between Prague and Bratislava. As of Wednesday, 1,200 of Slovakia’s 7,000 doctors had resigned, leaving four of the country’s hospitals in critical condition and another 16 in jeopardy.
Czech Airlines cancelled another two flights on Friday morning due to a continuing protest by its pilots, a spokeswoman said. On Thursday, the carrier had to cancel 25 flights from and to Prague’s Ruzyně airport as around a hundred pilots co-ordinately took sick leaves to protest against a transfer of aircraft to a charter carrier affiliated with Czech Airlines, a move they described as the beginning of Czech Airlines’ liquidation. Czech Airlines has described the protest as illegal and said it would punish the pilots participating in the action.
Teachers’ unions have decided to strike for one hour on December 7, when the government will be discussing changes in teachers’ salary tables. The unions are protesting a proposal to leave teachers’ salaries to the discretion of headmasters rather than their length of service. The proposal would affect primarily older teachers, who statistics show make up more than half of the teaching force. The head of the teachers’ unions, František Dobšík, says many teachers could theoretically lose 4,600 crowns off their pay. He says they are not yet planning a demonstration but a suspension of classes until 9 a.m. next Wednesday, and it is not yet clear how many people will take part.
Deputy chairman of the council of college institutions, Jiří Zlatuška, says that Prime Minister Petr Nečas broke the law in naming council members for the Council for Research, Development and Innovation on Wednesday. Writing in the daily Lidové noviny, the former dean of Masaryk University points out that the prime minister reappointed three people to third terms on the council in spite of the fact that the law only allows for two consecutive terms. He also criticises the continuation of council members responsible for the current system of appraising and funding science after an independent international audit of the Czech system clearly recommended it be abandoned..
The dean of the West Bohemian University law school, Květoslav Růžička, has resigned for health reasons. The schools says he will remain in office until December 12, when its academic senate will announce the selection of a new dean. Mr Růžička was being sought by police a few weeks ago after he went missing for several days and was noticed by a passerby at a roadside in North Bohemia. The Plzeň law school’s doctorial programme was recently suspended as a result of continuing fallout from a plagiarism and corruption scandal. Mr Růžička has also been involved with the ongoing lawsuit between the company Diag Human and the Cezch state, in which he was an arbitrator.
Police have accused two men with ethnic defamation and disturbing the peace after an attack on African-American singer Tonya Graves last Saturday. Ms. Graves, who lives permanently in the Czech Republic, said that the men shouted racist slogans at her while she was alone in a restaurant in Vimperk, South Bohemia, and pulled her hair and spat at her. The 41-year-old front-woman of the band Monkey Business said it was the first time she had come across such an incident in the Czech Republic. She said she was well and considered the matter closed.
The Social Democratic Party must stop using its current orange logo as it does not have a copyright for it, the party’s chairman Bohuslav Sobotka has announced. Czech media have found in recent weeks that the orange version of the logo, which the party has used since the chairmanship of Jiří Paroubek in 2007, is not registered with the copyright authorities. The party will for the time being return to a similar three-colour logo that it does own. It can continue to use the colour orange and its rose symbol elsewhere.
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