Former prime minister Miloš Zeman may be about to come out of retirement and re-enter politics, following the official registration of The Friends of Miloš Zeman Civic Association with the Interior Ministry last week. The organisation’s spokesman Miroslav Grégr – who served as industry minister in a Social Democrat government headed by Mr Zeman – told the newspaper Právo on Wednesday that it would formulate a manifesto at a meeting in Prague next week. Mr Grégr said the group, which may attract up to 500 members, now needed to create a functioning organizational network. The Friends of Miloš Zeman are due to hold their first public events after the summer holidays. Mr Zeman was prime minister for four years at the turn of the decade and failed in a bid to become president in 2003. He quit the Social Democrats last year due to differences with current leader Jiří Paroubek.
A small far-right political group is preparing a document calling for the relocation of the Czech Republic’s Roma population to India, Lidové noviny reported. The National Party have titled the 150-page document “The Final Solution to the Question of Gypsies in the Czech Lands”. The party say they themselves would buy land in India for the “repatriation”. Condemning the proposal, Romany leader Ivan Veselý told the paper his people had been living in this part of the world for 500 years. He said, however, he was not surprised by the use of anti-Romany rhetoric.
Forty new fire engines purchased for Czech fire brigades last year are not up to scratch, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. Fire officers told the newspaper the engines have a number of technical shortcomings, including relatively complicated handling of hoses and breathing apparatus. However, a representative of the Czech company which produced the fire engines said the only problem had been with their electrical systems, which had been repaired.
Repair work on the Villa Tugendhat will begin next year, not this year as originally planned, an official in Brno told the newspaper Lidové noviny. The 1920s villa is regarded as one of the most important examples of modern architecture in the Czech Republic. The Villa Tugendhat has belonged to the city of Brno since 1994 and authorities there have been planning a comprehensive renovation for several years.
Czech President Václav Klaus has met with Declan Ganley, an Irish leader of the campaign against the Lisbon treaty. Mr Klaus and Mr Ganley agreed that the Irish rejection of the Lisbon treaty has the same weight as the refusal by any other state. Mr Ganley, the chairman of the Libertas movement, has also met with Czech MEP Jan Zahradil, who said that the Irish euro-sceptic group could be a partner of the Civic Democrats in the European Parliament.
A number of deputies are listed as informants in the database of the former military counter-intelligence dating back to Czechoslovakia’s Communist regime, Czech Television reported on Monday. The deputies named were Juraj Raninec, Walter Bartoš and Tomáš Hasil of the Civic Democrats and Pavel Ploc of the Social Democrats. The documents were posted on the website of the Archive of Czech Security Forces on Friday. All of them say they never agreed to collaborate with the military counter-intelligence. According to database’s administrators, not all the people listed were consciously collaborating with the secret service.
The Czech military denies that the US radar base due to be stationed in the Czech Republic could emit harmful rays. A report by leading Czech scientists, which was published on Saturday, suggests that the rays emitted by the base could pose a threat to those travelling in airplanes overhead. However, Czech military health officer Petr Navrátil says the study is about a different kind of radar than the one to be located in central Bohemia. An earlier report for the government, assessing the radar at the Kwajalein Atoll which is to be moved to the Czech Republic, did not confirm any health risks.
President Václav Klaus has abolished healthcare fees for newborn babies. The amendment to the government’s healthcare reform package exempts newborns, organ donors and those legally ordered to undergo treatment from paying healthcare fees. As part of the reforms, patients have been obliged since January to pay 30 crowns (nearly 2 USD) per visit to the doctor, and 60 crowns per day spent in hospital. The introduction of fees has come under severe criticism on the grounds that a visit to the doctor should be covered by health insurance. The opposition also wants to see the elderly and children under 18 exempt from the payment.
The agreement on a property settlement between the state and the church, whose property was confiscated during the communist regime, is unlikely to be reached by the end of this year, shadow culture minister Vítězslav Jandák said on Tuesday. Under the plan submitted by the government the state is to pay 83 billion crowns to churches over a period of 60 years. The state’s obligation to provide financial support to churches would then be abolished. The Chamber of Deputies established a commission in mid-June to prepare a proposal for the settlement after the cabinet had failed to push the bill through in parliament.