Some 200 locals and tourists gathered on Prague's Wenceslas Square on Wednesday evening for a jazz concert in aid of New Orleans. The charity concert was organized at the initiative of Czech musicians and was held under the auspices of Senate chairman Premysl Sobotka. Among the performers were Milan Svoboda, the Prague Big Band Orchestra and Jiri Stivin. People could contribute cash on the spot or make a donation via an SMS text message.
The government has decided to increase the old-age, widows' and disability pensions by 4.9 percent as of January. The average monthly pension will thus reach 8,128 crowns (or over 330 dollars). According to experts, the country's current pay-as-you-go pension system is to survive for another 20 years approximately. The society, nevertheless, has been ageing and the spending on pensions has been increasing. Currently, the state spends about 8 percent of GDP on pensions.
The chief executive of South Korean car-maker Hyundai, Chung Mong-Koo, toured a site in the Czech Republic on Thursday, regional governor Evzen Tosenovsky said. The Czech news agency CTK, citing the Korea Economic Daily, reported that Hyundai planned to invest about 1.9 billion dollars in the Czech Republic, building a plant with annual output of 300,000 cars. Czech officials have declined to comment on the report. Quoting an unnamed regional council source, CTK said that two sites at industrial zones in North Moravia were being considered. If Hyundai decide to locate a new plant in the Czech Republic it would be the country's third car plant after Skoda and TPCA, the joint venture between Toyota and PSA Peugeot Citroen which launched production this year.
The government has decided that the television tower on Jested Mountain in North Bohemia and the 11th-century Vysehrad Codex, a Latin illuminated manuscript, along with another eight items will be classified as national cultural heritage. Culture Minister Vitezslav Jandak also proposed to grant the national heritage status to another two valuable manuscripts, as well as to a series of archaeological findings from Mikulcice, south Moravia, a collection of Czech Gothic statues, the bells from St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle, and a series of altar paintings by Czech Baroque artists Karel Skreta and Petr Brandl. Among other listed items are also five Tatra vintage cars.
The Czech Republic's Supreme State Attorney Marie Benesova has been dismissed from office. Ms Benesova was sacked at the request of Justice Minister Pavel Nemec with whom she had long-standing disputes. Although Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek had long backed Ms Benesova in the post, he recently conceded that the ongoing feud was paralyzing his administration. The justice minister has proposed state attorney Renata Vesecka as a suitable replacement. The outgoing Supreme State Attorney, Marie Benesova, has told the CTK news agency that she was given no chance to defend herself in her dispute with Justice Minister Pavel Nemec and that the decision on her dismissal was actually made when she was on holiday abroad.
The government has decided to sell its share in the country's biggest brown-coal mining company, Severoceska uhelna, to the Czech energy giant CEZ for 9 billion crowns (370 million dollars). CEZ which now holds a 37-percent stake in the mining company will have a 93-percent share after the purchase. Severoceska uhelna is the biggest supplier of brown coal for CEZ's power plants. The deal will now be examined by the Czech antitrust office and the European Commission.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will make a one day visit to Prague on Friday at the invitation of Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek. The two leaders are expected to discuss domestic issues, EU matters ahead of the EU summit in Great Britain next month and bilateral relations. The German Chancellor and the Czech Prime Minister are said to be good friends and the Czech media have more than once described Mr. Schroeder as the Czech leader's role model.
Communist party deputy-chairman Vojtech Filip is suing the leader of the Christian Democrats Miroslav Kalousek for slander. Filip filed a lawsuit against the Christian Democrat leader after he called the Communist party "a criminal organization". Kalousek says he will not retract the statement and is prepared to ask Parliament to strip him of his immunity in order to allow court proceedings to go ahead. The Christian Democrat leader said he would be only too happy to have communist crimes finally discussed in court.
The Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek says he is prepared to meet with doctors to discuss their problems but he will not be pressured into dismissing the Health Minister Milada Emmerova. GPs, specialists and some dentists have announced that they will be going on a one day strike next Thursday in protest of the poor payment morale of some insurance companies. Doctors say the present system of financing is untenable since long delays in payments are threatening their livelihood. They blame the Health Minister Milada Emmerova for their present problems, saying she is incapable of implementing effective reforms.
An opinion poll conducted by the STEM agency indicates that 38 percent of Czechs would not mind having the Communist party in government. The respondents who expressed this view said that since the Communist party had not been banned after the 1989 revolution it was necessary to accept its presence on the Czech political scene.