A new poll by the STEM agency released on Monday showed that 39 percent of Czechs do not believe the European Union works efficiently, a drop by 3 percent since the previous poll in January. 48 percent of those polled are sceptical about the EU’s democratic character, which is 9 percent more than the beginning of the year, and the lowest number since the Czech Republic joined the EU in 2004. Only 28 percent of Czechs said the EU should become a federation, a drop by 9 percent since January.
One of the “gentlemen robbers” shot dead in Germany on Friday was German, not Czech, the German newspaper Bild said on Monday, quoting the Czech police. The 40-year-old man, who died along with his wife during a bank robbery in the German city of Karlsruhe on Friday, was German and his original name was Johann Kaiser, the paper said. He only changed his name after he married the Czech woman, Růžena Benešová. The German police believe the couple was responsible for 15 bank robberies in Germany between 1995 and 2010. On Friday, the man was shot dead by the police and his wife then committed suicide.
Freezing temperatures have again caused major complications on the Czech Republic’s roads. A number of accidents have been reported, including a crash involving two trucks and two cars on the Prague ring road that on Monday morning led to long tailbacks. In some areas snow has hampered visibility. In the Karlovy Vary region, fallen trees halted traffic on several roads. Forecasters and maintenance authorities have warned of strong winds and ice covered roads.
Doctors in Prague hospitals are expected to start handing in their resignations on Monday in protest against low wages. The wave of mass resignations triggered by the trade union campaign “Thank You, We Are Leaving” has already affected other parts of the country and threatens to paralyze a number of state hospitals in Vysočina, Ostrava, Opava and Brno. A hospital in Vysočina reports that 500 doctors have handed in their resignations, which amounts to 80 percent of its staff. In Ostrava and Brno some hospitals may lose 60 to 70 percent of their staff. Of the 16,000 doctors working in state hospitals around the country more than 4,000 have threatened to walk out if they do not get a pay-rise as of next year. They are asking for a basic salary triple the average wage i.e. 70,000 crowns per month, which the health minister says he is unable to give them in view of the government’s austerity measures.
Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said on Monday the results of a recent survey of Czechs’ financial literacy, which was commissioned by the ministry along with the central bank, were shocking. The survey showed two thirds of Czechs do not read financial contracts before signing them; also, most Czechs don’t know some basic financial terms. Mr Kalousek said he wanted to discuss the poor results with his colleagues in the cabinet, and eventually introduce courses of financial literacy at Czech schools.
The Czech health minister, Leoš Heger, handed out this year’s awards on Monday for achievements in medical science and research. Neurologist Evžen Růžička from Prague’s general teaching hospital received the award for research on the treatment of Parkison’s Disease while Pavel Krška from children’s neurology centre at Motol hospital was awarded for research of children’s epilepsy. Professor Martin Haluzík from Prague’s general teaching hospital was recognized for his work in the field of hormones.
The number of inhabitants in the Czech Republic registered a slight increase over the first nine months of this year, according to data released by the Czech Statistical Office on Monday. There were just over 10,520,000 people living in the country by the end of September, which was some 20,000 more than the previous year. The office also said the number of newborn children was lower by 1,500 than over the same period last year; however, there were some 10,300 more births than deaths. The Czech statistical office pointed out that the number of new marriages dropped to a historic minimum. The number of immigrants into the Czech Republic over the first nine months of 2010 was some 10,000 higher than the number of people who left the country.
A court in Prague on Monday sentenced two managers of the fraudulent building company H-System to nine and eight years in jail, respectively. The men were convicted of taking part in multi-billion crown fraud. In the early 1990s, their company promised new apartments and took advance payments from its clients; by 1997, however, the company went bankrupt and more than 1,000 of its clients lost their money. Monday’s ruling was the final verdict in the case; in 2002, the man who masterminded the fraud was sentenced to 12 years in jail.
The Czech-owned loan firm Home Credit announced on Monday they were pulling out of Ukraine. The firm has sold its Dnepropetrovsk-based branch to the Ukrainian Platinum Bank although the deal is yet to be approved by the country’s regulators. Home Credit is a major loan firm, owned by the Czech financial group PPF. In the Czech Republic, it provided loans worth 3.7 billion crowns, more than 195 million US dollars. It is also doing well in other countries of the former Eastern bloc including Russia, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and China. Next year, the firm is planning to set up new branches in Egypt and Indonesia.
The South Moravian regional authorities insist on controversial routes for two new motorways, a member of the region’s council told reporters on Monday. The region insists that the planned R43 motorway connecting the south Moravia city of Brno with the town Svitavy, in eastern Bohemia, is traced through the Brno neighbourhood of Bystrc, while a new R52 motorway between Brno and Vienna is built across the lakes of Nové Mlýnu, near the Austrian border. Both plans have been criticised by environmentalists as well as local inhabitants.