Presidential candidate Jan Svejnar is not planning to leave his post of a
chairman at the supervisory board of CSOB bank. Mr Svejnar said he will
resign to the post only if he succeeds in winning the election, in which
is running against the incumbent president Vaclav Klaus. However, he has
already discontinued his work in the CSOB board in October and he
receive any payments. The CSOB bank is currently in a legal dispute with
the Czech state over 30 billion crowns (1.1 billion US dollars).
The Czech-American economist Jan Svejnar officially announced his decision to run for president last Friday. The election is scheduled to be held on February 8. Mr Svejnar’s nomination was backed by ten lawmakers from the upper house from across the political spectrum – excluding the right-of-centre Civic Democrats and the Communists. According to the latest poll conducted by the STEM agency, the two presidential candidates currently have the same preferences.
Czech president Vaclav Klaus said he was ready to face his rival for the presidency only in parliament during the presidential election. Speaking at a debate on TV Prima, he repeatedly rejected calls from opposition Social Democrats to take part in a televised debate with Jan Svejnar about crucial domestic and foreign policy matters. Mr Klaus said that unlike his rival he didn’t need to seek publicity as a politician.
The Czech Council for the Victims of Nazism has allocated some 8 million crowns (434, 000 US dollars) to social, research and education projects for next year. The highest sum, 1.3 million crowns was assigned to the Jewish community in Prague, which runs a home for the elderly at Prague’s Hagibor. The Czech Council for the Victims of Nazism was established on the basis of an agreement between the Czech Republic and Austria about compensating victims of forced labour during the Nazi rule.
The Social Democrats and the Green Party will back the draft legislation on the first phase of the planned pension reform, prepared by Labour and Social Affairs Minister Petr Necas. The draft suggests, among other things, extending the compulsory period of insurance from 25 to 35 years and raising the retirement age for both men and women to 65 years. Mr Necas said the reform should be implemented as soon as possible, pointing out that due to the inflation rate the current pension system might run into deficit earlier than expected.
Police in south Moravian town of Zlin have launched investigation after a seventeen-year-old boy drowned in a swimming pool during a swimming lesson on Friday morning. A lifeguard pulled the student's lifeless body out of the water but paramedics didn’t succeed in reviving him. It isn’t clear how long he had been under water. Police are currently investigating who is responsible for the boy’s death.
A post-office in Bozi Dar, a small town in Krusne Hory, has stamped more than half a tonne of Christmas greetings this year with a special Christmas stamp. Tens of thousands of people from the Czech Republic and elsewhere have been sending their greetings to Bozi Dar, which translates into Czech as Gift of God. The local post-office also receives children’s wishes addressed to Jezisek or little baby Jesus, who, according to the Czech tradition, leaves the presents under the Christmas tree. The town of Bozi Dar, a popular skiing resort, has the highest altitude in central Europe – 1082 metres above sea level. It has been offering the special Christmas service for fourteen years.
About thirty public places in Prague have been designated as “family friendly” by the Gender Studies organization promoting equal opportunities for men and women. Restaurants, coffee-houses, shops and other facilities bearing the family-friendly sign must have barrier-free access and personnel which is friendly towards families with small children. So far, volunteers from Gender Studies have mapped public spaces in three districts of Prague. The list should be completed by July next year.
Churches will probably receive 267 billion crowns (some 14.5 billion US dollars) from the Czech state in compensation for their property confiscated by the former communist regime, Mlada Fronta Dnes reports. Last week members of the ruling coalition and churches agreed on financial compensation worth 83 billion crowns. The state won’t be able to pay out the sum in a one-off payment as it would threaten the state budget, Finance Minister Miloslav Kalousek told the daily. The compensation will therefore be paid out gradually throughout a period of sixty years. The cabinet will discuss the planned compensation for churches at the beginning of next year. If it passes through the parliament, the churches will start receiving the payments as of 2009.