Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has presented a prime minister’s medal to Milan Paumer, a member of the armed anti-communist group led by Josef and Ctirad Mašín. The three killed six people including a cashier before and during a dramatic escape to West Germany in 1953; other members of their group were later executed. Last week the prime minister presented the same award to Josef Mašín at the Czech Embassy in Washington, the first ever official recognition of the group. Czech society is divided over their actions: some regard the men as freedom fighters, others believe they are murderers.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has softened his position on the possible return of Jiří Čunek to cabinet, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. Mr Schwarzenberg had previously said he would quit if Mr Čunek was reinstated as deputy prime minister and minister for regional development. But the foreign minister, currently recovering from surgery, told the newspaper he would now tolerate his return, if Mr Čunek presented him with his accounts and the decree ending a criminal investigation into allegations that he took bribes. Jiří Čunek has reportedly agreed to do so. Prime Minister Topolánek said on Tuesday it was likely Mr Čunek would be reinstated by Easter.
MP Evžen Snítilý has been kicked out of the Social Democrats after defying the party whip and supporting Václav Klaus in a presidential election. Mr Snítilý had earlier been expelled from the Social Democrat’s group in the Chamber of Deputies, after his vote helped the incumbent win a second term. Despite having now been thrown out of the party itself he refuses to give up his seat in Parliament.
Police have charged a doctor with fraud after he told a lied to a patient he had cancer and then tried to charge him for a “miracle cure”, TV Nova reported. Several other former patients of the doctor have since come forward to say they had paid him large amounts. The doctor, a urologist, was previously was sentenced after removing the a patient’s healthy kidney.
Over four fights of Czech women and three-fifths of Czech men believe there are too few women in Czech politics, according to a poll carried out by the CVVM agency for the women’s advocacy group Forum 50%. Most Czechs also think it is easier for men to reach the top in politics than women, the poll suggested. The Czech Republic is 76th among 190 countries in terms of women’s representation in parliament, says the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
Lukáš Bauer has, as expected, become the first Czech ever to win the season-long cross country skiing World Cup. Second-placed Rene Sommerfeldt of Germany, the only person with even a theoretical chance of catching Bauer, had signalled his intention not to compete in a sprint in Denmark on Wednesday; his failure to declare himself for the race by Tuesday’s deadline means the historic World Cup title belongs to Bauer. Furthermore, it is possible the 30-year-old will end the season with the greatest points lead ever recorded in the competition.
The Czech footballer Jan Koller says he may quit the game if he is punished by the German football association for allegedly spitting at an opponent. The Nuremberg striker has been ordered to provide a description of what happened during the alleged incident. The 34-year-old strongly denies the charge and says any punishment would be “the limit”. Koller is the Czech Republic’s record scorer, with 50 goals in 81 internationals.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has congratulated Dmitry Medvedev on his victory in the Russian presidential elections and expressed the hope that the Czech Republic and Russia would continue to foster good relations and economic cooperation. He nevertheless expressed regret that the presidential elections in Russia had not met certain internationally accepted norms such as a level playing field for all candidates and an independent mission of foreign observers.
Czech insurance companies are expected to pay hundreds of millions of crowns (tens of millions of dollars) in damages caused by hurricane-force winds over the weekend. Insurers have been inundated with calls after winds of up to 95 miles per hour ripped off roofs, uprooted trees and felled power lines. Two people were killed in the wind-storm, one an eleven-year-old girl. Rail and road traffic was disrupted for most of the weekend and at one point over 900,000 people were left without electricity. People have been warned not to enter the country’s forests where emergency crews have been working around the clock clearing the damage.
The Confederation of Czech and Moravian trade unions has declared a strike alert in protest against the fiscal reforms introduced by the centre-right government. The vast majority of leaders in this umbrella trade union organization supported the move at an extraordinary meeting on Monday. Union leaders say the impact of the reforms on the socially weaker groups of the population has been devastating. Among the most criticized measures is the introduction of direct payments for medical services. The two smaller parties of the ruling coalition – the Christian Democrats and the Greens – have already expressed an inclination to temper the measures by exempting children and pensioners from the medical fees.