Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has arrived in Prague for a two-day visit at the invitation of Czech President Václav Klaus. During his stay Mr Medvedev is scheduled to meet President Klaus and later on Thursday Prime Minister Petr Nečas. Topics to be discussed include Russia’s bid for the tender to complete the Temelín nuclear power plant in South Bohemia and other business deals. The Russian President is also expected to open an exhibition of artworks from the Kremlin collections at Prague Castle.
The 29 Czech military doctors who were sent as reinforcements to hospitals in neighbouring Slovakia on Saturday are returning to the Czech Republic, a spokesman for the Defence Ministry said on Wednesday. The Slovak government has meanwhile settled a labour dispute with some 1200 doctors who walked out over low salaries and the situation in the healthcare system is returning to normal. The 29 Czech specialists were deployed in hospitals in Bratislava, Nitra, Žilina and Ružomberok.
Some 25,000 school teachers around the Czech Republic took part in Wednesday’s hour-long strike causing every sixth school to open its doors at 9 instead of 8 am. According to the teachers’ unions the protest, joined by 1,620 schools mainly from the South Moravian and Moravian-Silesian regions was without incidents. The unions are protesting a proposal to let headmasters decide teachers’ salaries rather than deriving them from length of service. The proposal would affect primarily older teachers, who make up more than half of the teaching force. Meanwhile the government is discussing changes to teachers’ salary tables on Wednesday.
The lower house of Czech Parliament has approved the 2012 draft budget for a final reading that is to take place next week. The proposed state budget deficit for 2012 is 105 billion crowns. MPs have also proposed shifts worth billions of crowns within the budget but Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek says most of them have no chance of being passed. Mr Kalousek himself proposed that one billion crowns be transferred in support of sport, national heritage protection and social projects. He justified his proposal by the tax break that the lower house has granted to lottery firms whose revenues were partly used to support the above mentioned public benefit activities.
Czech Parliament is not going to approve the new European Stability Mechanism by the end of 2011. The Senate has followed Tuesday’s decision of the lower house to postpone the vote until next year at the request of Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. A three-fifth majority of lawmakers is needed to pass the legislation. The postponement is related to the latest changes in the eurozone and reports of a looming credit crunch and economic downturn. The European Stability Mechanism is a rescue funding programme designed to succeed the temporary European Financial Stability Facility and European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism. It is due to come into effect in mid-2013.
Representatives of Czech Airlines pilots who staged a protest last week against the company’s restructuring plans are meeting with the carrier’s management on Wednesday. The only item on the agenda is a planned mass dismissal of pilots, a spokesman for the pilots’ union said. The company is planning to offload 11 aircraft to Holidays Czech Airlines, a subsidiary charter firm, and dismiss around 100 pilots while creating the same number of jobs in the subsidiary but offering significantly lower salaries. Dozens of flights were cancelled last week as the pilots co-ordinately took sick leaves in protest of the planned move.
Hundreds of workers gathered outside the premises of the steel company ArcelorMittal Ostrava on Wednesday afternoon for a protest organized by labour unions. The workers are protesting against the company’s strategy which according to them is exclusively profit-oriented while ignoring future development and the number of jobs. The unions say the company has long been neglecting maintenance of its production facilities resulting in unnecessary outages which affect the company’s competitiveness. Labour unions across Europe have called on all employees of ArcelorMittal and its subcontractors to stage demonstrations.
Police have charged the parents of a number of children in the Ostrava region who are suspected of allowing their children to appear in pornographic photographs and videos. Police say ten people have been detained in connection with the case, four of them parents of children aged six to sixteen. According to police, a Czech-Polish gang operating mainly in the Ostrava region recruited parents with young children and used motels to produce the movies and photographs. The material was then processed and distributed in Poland.
A bust of the Prague-born German poet Rainer Maria Rilke who died 85 years ago has been unveiled in the centre of Prague. The ceremony on Wednesday morning was attended by diplomats, literary scholars and artists. Rilke’s work, largely inspired by his life in Prague, had a strong influence on Czech literature, especially the poetry of František Halas, Vladimír Holan, Jan Zahradníček and Jiří Orten. Rilke, born in 1875 into a family of a Prague German civil servant, became one of the most significant German-language poets of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Police in the Vysočina region report a kangaroo, most likely escaped from a private owner, has been sighted near the 93rd kilometre of the D1 motorway. The animal reportedly does not pose any risk to traffic as fire fighters from a nearby town have been keeping it away from the motorway. An animal capture company has arrived at the location. The owner has sent about 70 volunteers to help in the search.
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