Dagmar Havlova, the actress wife of former Czech president Vaclav Havel, made her first stage appearance in almost a decade on Friday evening when she appeared in a production of Moment of Truth by US playwright Israel Horovitz. Critics have described the performance at Prague's Vinohradske Divadlo as a resounding success, while Mr Havel said he was very glad his wife had returned to her profession.
The Czech Republic may have to make a huge pay-out after losing an
international arbitration case taken by the Japanese bank Nomura over the
sale of IPB bank. The Czech government put IPB under forced administration
when it collapsed in the year 2000 before selling it to another Czech bank,
CSOB. Nomura, which owned almost half of IPB, said the Czech state had
failed to protect its investment; it is now demanding over one and a half
billion US dollars in compensation. The actual amount it receives will be
set by a second arbitration hearing.
But Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, whose Social Democrats were in power at the time of the sale, said there was no immediate threat of the country having to pay the compensation; he said negotiations would continue and it could take years for the matter to be resolved.
Acclaimed Japanese writer Haruki Murakami - the author of such novels as "Kafka on the Shore", "Norwegian Wood", "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World", has been named as the winner of this year's Franz Kafka Prize, awarded by Prague's Franz Kafka Society. An international panel chose the author as the winner this week. Mr Murakami becomes the sixth author in all to receive the prize (worth 10,000 US dollars) following British playwright Harold Pinter last year. Mr Murakami will reportedly travel to Prague in October when the prize will officially be awarded.
The board of directors and supervisory board of the General Health Insurance Company (the VZP) has failed to approve cost-saving measures for the health insurance plan for 2006, meaning forced administration at the insurer will continue. A member of the board of directors revealed the information on Friday. Both the Health Minister David Rath and the prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, had linked the approval of addtional cost-saving measures with the cancellation of forced administration. According to Minister Rath, the VZP will run its finances according to a stopgap budget which includes cost-saving measures. Mr Rath imposed forced administration on the VZP last November - to prevent the insurer from slipping into further debt.
Tottenham have won a three-way race to sign highly-rated Czech teenager Tomas Pekhart from Slavia Prague. The 16-year-old striker will move to London in July after signing a three-year contract with a further option of two years. Spurs sporting director Damien Comolli told the club's website that two other Premiership clubs had been interested in signing the player.
Jiri Vyvadil, who stepped down from his post as judge of the Supreme Court, after being suspended by the justice minister, has been named an honorary advisor by the Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek. Cabinet spokeswoman Lucie Orgonikova said on Friday that Mr Vyvadil would advise the prime minister on issues of law, justice, and the court system, but would not receive a salary. The move came just hours after Mr Vyvadil was suspended, following a recommendation by court chairman Josef Baxa, who has said that Mr Vyvadil had threatened the independence of the judiciary by involving himself in political affairs and meeting secretly with controversial businessman Tomas Pitr - appealing an eight-year prison sentence for tax fraud.
A new poll released by the STEM polling agency has suggested the Green
Party - not in Parliament - has continued to gain ground ahead of
general elections this year. The survey suggests that if elections were
held tomorrow the Greens would get 9.4 percent of the vote - a marked
jump from earlier polls which showed the party at around 5 or 6
percent. The right-of-centre Civic Democrats continue to top the poll
at 26.7, followed by the left-of-centre Social Democrats at 21.8, and
the Communists at 12.4.
According to the STEM poll the last party to cross Parliament's 5 percent threshold would be the Christian Democrats at 6.1 percent.
Pharmacy owners meeting with Health Minister David Rath and Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Friday reached agreement on a changing the profit margin system for medicines along two-tier lines. Until now, pharmacies and distributors have enjoyed a 29-percent margin profit on all medicines. Under the proposed system, the margin for cheaper medicines would be raised to 33 percent, but more expensive medicines would see a drop to just 6 - 10 percent. The health minister has indicated that specialists will meet to further discuss the issue next week.
The Chamber of Deputies has included provisions in a bill that should further deter the illegal importing of waste to the Czech Republic, raising the upper on fines to up to 50 million crowns - the equivalent of more than 2 million US dollars. The provisions will also allow police to check incoming transport trucks more effectively. The bill will now be discussed by the Senate and assessed by President Vaclav Klaus. According to Czech Environmental Inspection estimates, some 15,000 tonnes of waste were illegally imported from Germany into the Czech Republic in recent months.
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