Czech Airlines has resumed normal operation after a two-day protest by its pilots. A spokeswoman for the carrier said on Saturday the pilots’ protest would not affect flights at the weekend but a representative of the pilots’ labour union said its members remained on strike alert. Czech Airlines cancelled 25 flights from and to Prague’s Ruzyně airport on Thursday and another eight on Friday 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 said it considered the protest illegal and would punish the pilots participating in the action.
Thirty Czech military doctors have been sent to Slovakia even though the Slovak government finally signed an agreement with local doctors ending a long labour dispute over low salaries. The Czech and Slovak Health Ministers confirmed the assistance mission on Saturday. The Czech doctors are expected to stay only for several days and will be working in hospitals in Bratislava, Nitra and Žilina which were affected by the recent industrial action.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has said he believes that the eurozone will not collapse as a result of the current debt crisis. Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Mr. Nečas said scaremongering might only aggravate the situation. Earlier this week Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek warned of disastrous consequences the collapse of the euro would have for the Czech economy. He said a systemic financial collapse of the eurozone would have a fatal economic, fiscal and social impact on the Czech Republic, and the country would ‘struggle to survive’.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has said his Civic Democrats are promoting a targeted system of social benefits based on each person’s activity. Speaking at a party conference titled “Law and Solidarity” in the northern town of Ústí nad Labem on Saturday, Mr Nečas said that people who abused social benefits could not rely on state assistance. “We want to give a helping hand to those in need who are willing to change their situation and work but we will not support idlers who only pose as needy,” the prime minister said. The party conference has been called in response to the situation in the North Bohemian Šluknov district troubled by tension between the Roma community and the majority population following a number of violent attacks in the summer which the locals blamed on members of the Roma minority.
President Václav Klaus has backed Police President Petr Lessy after Interior Minister Jan Kubice demanded his resignation. According to the daily Lidové noviny Mr. Klaus does not wish a change in the post mainly because it might trigger a government crisis just like a year ago. Mr. Klaus told the paper he thought it would be unfortunate to destabilize the current fragile political situation and that he could empathize with the police president defending his officers. Relations have been tense between the police president and the interior minister lately as the Interior Minister suggests abolishing hundreds of managerial posts in the police force, a move which according to Mr Lessy would compromise the police force’s performance.
A Czech national suspected of being at the head of a sex trafficking gang in Northern Ireland has been charged with trafficking into the UK for sexual exploitation, controlling prostitution, and brothel keeping. The BBC reported on Friday the 29-year-old man had been arrested in August by anti-organized crime police during a raid across Belfast. He is alleged to have advertised the services of at least 21 women online and taken up to 80 percent of their earnings. Some of the victims were identified in cooperation with Czech police and Interpol.
Four police officers were allegedly injured in a fight with a group of foreign nationals which broke out on Saturday afternoon in the northern town of Varnsdorf. A police spokeswoman refused to comment further on the incident but confirmed the officers had been attacked. According to the novinky.cz news site the incident was initiated by a member of the local so-called “Yugoslav mafia”. He allegedly accused one of the police officers of fining him in the past and wanted to take revenge.
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.
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