Romany representatives on Friday established a Party for Equal Opportunities. At the party’s constituent session in Prague its newly-elected leader Stefan Tisher said its aim was to defend not just the interests of the Romany minority but that of all socially weak citizens. With that in mind the party’s founders abandoned the proposed name for the party Adaj –meaning “we are here” in Romany – in favour of a more neutral title. Its founding members will now travel around the country to drum up support for the new political entity. The party aims to run in the autumn 2012 regional elections.
A group of 34 patients with Alzheimer’s disease who were denied
biological treatment for lack of money have been assured they would get it
after threatening to take a health insurance company to court. The
insurance company Krajská zdravotní a.s. said it had come to an agreement
with the largest health insurer in the country VZP on covering the cost of
There are approximately 18,000 Alzheimers sufferers in the Czech Republic with around 1,000 more diagnosed every year. Around 800 of them stand to benefit from biological treatment and those who were put on a waiting list for financial reasons protested for fear that putting it off would lead to their health deteriorating faster.
A requiem mass for the former Czech president Vaclav Havel was celebrated in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on Friday. The mass, celebrated by Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, was attended by around a hundred guests among them foreign diplomats from the United States, Canada and Europe. The late president’s widow Dagmar Havlova was unable to attend for work reasons. Mr. Havel died in his sleep at his country cottage on December 18th at the age of 75.
Jiří Raška, the 1968 Olympic ski jumping champion who was named the
best Czech skier of the 20th century, died on Friday at the age of 70. The
news was confirmed by his family but the cause of death was not given.
Jiří Raška became the first Czech to win gold at the Winter Olympics
when he won off the middle hill in Grenoble, France. He also won a silver
medal at the same Olympics on the large hill. In 1969, Raška set the world
record in ski jumping at 164 meters at the flying hill in Planica, then
Yugoslavia. He also won the prestigious Four Hill Tour in 1971. After his
retirement in 1976, he coached the Czech national team.
In October, the Czech skiing legend he was awarded a top state decoration, the Medal of Merit, by President Václav Klaus. He was known to suffer from heart problems and underwent triple bypass surgery.
President Vaclav Klaus has slammed the government for failing to accept political responsibility for a decision on whether the country should join the EU’s fiscal union. In an interview for Friday’s daily Lidové noviny Mr. Klaus said the government should make a clear decision one way or another and not hide behind a referendum. He was alluding to Wednesday’s government vote which provisionally endorsed a national referendum on the issue. However not all coalition parties voted in favour of leaving the decision in the hands of the electorate. TOP 09 said the matter was “too complex” to be decided by the public, arguing in favour of its ratification in Parliament. The President also addressed the question of whether the government would need his authorization to sign up to the international treaty. Mr. Klaus said that the prime minister was empowered to sign treaties of this type, but that his signature was not tantamount to a ratification by the head of state, which he was determined to withhold.
Several hundred students and teachers of Charles University held a protest in front of the government offices on Thursday evening. The demonstration followed a meeting at the university on how to oppose the proposed law on higher education and a protest event where students threw a symbolic 90 melons (Czech slang for millions) out of windows to protest the 90 million crowns the Education Ministry spent on preparing the reform. The crowd blew noisemakers and carried signs reading “education is not business” and “don’t sell us to the banks”. A resolution passed by the university on Thursday contests that the proposed measures were prepared too quickly and without adequate consultation and calls for further student protests.
Many banks in the Czech Republic plan to open dozens of new outlets in 2012, the biggest expansion being planned by UniCredit Bank which wants to open over 50 outlets, the ctk news agency reports. Česká sporitelna wants to open 14 new outlets and Poštovní sporitelna of the CSOB group plans to open 13 outlets. In contrast, Komerční banka and Raiffeisenbank said they had completed the main expansion of their outlet networks last year. Banks currently operate more than 2,000 outlets around the country..
A court in Hradec Králové has served five to ten year sentences to six youths who in May of 2010 brutally beat up two homeless men in the town of Pardubice. After punching and kicking them in turn the youths left the two men severely injured, bleeding and unconscious on the ground. When they returned to the spot an hour later the men were still lying there and the boys resorted to fresh violence, urinating on their bodies before walking away. One of the men later died of his injuries.
The Czech consulate in Sofia, Bulgaria has confirmed the arrest of a Czech national who was caught smuggling 1,5 kilograms of heroin out the country. The man was reportedly on his way out of the country through the Vidin border crossing when customs officials searched his car and found the loot. It is not clear if the arrest was part of a bigger operation. Bulgaria is on the main drugs supply route from the Middle East to Europe and one of its smaller branches lead to through the Czech Republic.
Heavy snow and icy roads are complicating traffic in many parts of the country. The Liberec and Vysočina regions are the worst affected, with some roads off limits, and others passable only with extreme caution. Meteorologists have issued another warning regarding icy roads and pavements in the early morning hours of Saturday and Sunday. Traffic police are dealing with a heightened number of accidents around the country.
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Janek Rubeš: The only question I get – and there are thousands of them – is, Can we come to Prague?