Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico visited Prague on Friday, on his first foreign trip since his re-election last month. Mr Fico met with his Czech counterpart Petr Nečas. The two leaders agreed that relations between both countries were excellent and pledged to further expand cooperation between both nations. Both leaders said that while their governments differed on some key issues such as EU policies, this did not affect the quality of Czech-Slovak relations. Mr Fico added that it was not his place to comment on the decision of the Czech government to not join the EU’s fiscal compact. The Slovak leader is met with President Václav Klaus and the head of the Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka.
Commenting on a protest to take place in Prague Saturday, with an expected turnout of about 100,000 citizens, Prime Minister Petr Nečas said that while people have the right to freely express their opinions, this needs to happen within the limits of what is legal. He added that similar protests were taking place across Europe and that it was everyone’s right to take their discontent to the streets. Organizers of the protest are demonstrating against Mr Nečas’s government and its austerity measures.
Influential Czech entrepreneur Zdeněk Bakala has written an open letter to Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas. In the letter, he calls on the prime minister to refrain from making accusations lacking evidence directed against his person in interviews. He further writes that his lawyer has taken the matter to the state prosecutor’s office and has asked it to intervene in the case of further public allegations. In recent months, Mr Nečas had mentioned Mr Bakala's name in connection with a police investigation into the privatization of OKD, a major mining company, in interviews with a number of dailies and weeklies. Mr Bakala has made it clear that he was not involved in the privatization process and that it was completed when his financial group NWR took over the joint stock company.
Czech rower Václav Chalupa, who won silver at the Olympics in 1992, has withdrawn his candidature for Public Affairs in the Senate elections scheduled to be held in the fall. He said that his decision was connected to the current political situation as well as personal reasons. On Monday, the party has announced that the athlete was running on its ballot. A day later, deputy prime minister Karolína Peské announced her split with Public Affairs and said she would form a new government faction.
The Czech Dental Chamber has slammed a planned health care reform which it claims will increase administrative tasks for dentists while at the same time creating disadvantages for patients. The chamber has demanded a speedy re-negotiation of problematic points from the government. Among the changes the dental chamber criticizes is the introduction of a new regulation that requires both parents to give approval to their child being treated by a dentist. While dentists believe that such approval should be necessary only for serious procedures, the health ministry would like to see mandatory approval from both parents introduced for all types of dental treatment of minors.
The woman who became the victim of hit-and-run driver and influential lobbyist Roman Janoušek was released from hospital on Friday. The 51-year-old Vietnamese woman was treated at a Prague hospital for four weeks following the accident. According to hospital staff, the woman’s state of health is stable, but she will not yet be able to return to work. Her sister-in-law, who was in the car at the time of the accident, already testified in the case. Mr Janoušek was drunk-driving when he ran over the woman. He left the site of the accident without helping his victim. The accident received a lot of media attention. It happened days after allegations of corruption involving the influential entrepreneur and former Prague mayor Pavel Bém became public.
Czech police have arrested a Polish citizen near the Czech-Polish border who attempted to smuggle three Georgian citizens across the country to France. The Georgians, a man and two women, aged 20, 22 and 53, were not allowed to leave Poland, where they were staying in an asylum. Each paid the trafficker about 30,000 Czech crowns to bring them to France. The 53-year-old Pole faces a prison sentence of up to five years if found guilty.
Police have arrested the alleged partner-in-crime of “robber of the century” František Procházka. His accomplice, Milan Čermák, was sentenced to nine years in prison and is set to appeal the decision next week. Police arrested the accomplice near his house in the Mladá Boleslav; the court had ordered the arrest a week before his case goes into appeal on the grounds that he might try to escape the country, officials said Friday. Čermák and Procházka were sentence in January of this year. Procházka, who was sentenced for stealing over half a billion crowns from his employer, a security agency, disappeared in 2007.
A German court in the town of Görlitz in Saxony has sentenced two Czech citizens in connection with a brutal attack, handing them prison sentences of ten and six years, respectively. The two men, aged 28 and 25, last year stole a car in Saxony. They brutally attacked the owner of the car, a senior citizen, and have been charged with attempted murder. The verdict can be appealed.
The city hall of Břeclav has given a march organized by the far-right Workers’ Youth the green light. The march is set to take place Sunday and organizers say it is a gesture of support for the 15-year-old victim of a brutal attack in the city. Three Roma men are suspected of having beaten up the teenage boy after he refused to give them cigarettes. City hall officials said that a planned and organized march was easier to keep under control than spontaneous gatherings of right-wing extremists. Tensions between Roma and ethnic Czechs in the town have been building for a long time. The city’s mayor has said that he is working together closely with the government’s social inclusion agency to help relieve tensions and bring the two groups together.
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