The Czech government on Wednesday postponed a decision on the restitution
of church property due to a dispute among the coalition parties. The
coalition Public Affairs party said they first wanted to know where the
funds for the proposed financial compensation will come from before they
support the bill. The parties have agreed to discuss the matter at a
coalition meeting before the government deals with the issue at its
session next week.
Last year, the government reached a deal with the country’s churches on property restitution. The churches should some 56 percent of the physical property confiscated by the communist regime in the 1950s; in reimbursement for the rest, they should receive 59 billion crowns plus inflation over a period of 30 years.
The Czech military will reduce its training areas around the country by a third, and will leave the area in Brdy, central Bohemia, for good. The respective proposal by the Defence Ministry was approved by the government at its session on Wednesday. Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra said that compared to other European countries, the Czech army had disproportionately large training areas; also, the number of army soldiers has dropped from 120,000 in 1990 to some 25,000 today. The army will now discuss the future use of the abandoned training areas with local municipalities.
The Czech police might receive more powers to fight animal abuse. The cabinet on Wednesday approved new legislation which will allow police officers to enter private homes on suspicion of animal abuse; they will be able to confiscate maltreated animals and their breeders could also be banned from keeping animals in the future. The draft legislation will now be put to Parliament for approval.
Several hundred wheelchair users turned up at labour offices around the Czech Republic on Wednesday to protest against changes to the country’s welfare system. As of January 1, mobility benefits are paid by labour offices, rather than local authorities. Disabled people now receive them monthly rather than once a year. The head of the Czech National Disability Council, Václav Krása, said the changes would only increase bureaucracy. Many labour offices, part of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, also lack access for wheelchair users. Government officials have rejected the protest, and said the changes will make the system easier to use for people with disabilities.
Public trust in the lower house of the Czech parliament has sunk to the lowest level since 1993, according to a new poll by the STEM agency released on Wednesday. The survey found that a mere 16 percent trusted the Chamber of Deputies, down by three percent from the previous poll that took place in June 2011. However, 40 percent of those polled said they trusted the speaker of the lower house, Miroslava Němcová. The most trusted institutions of the state include the Constitutional Court, with 57 percent, followed by the president, also with 57 percent. The upper chamber of Parliament enjoys the trust of some 25 percent of Czechs.
The remains of the late president Václav Havel were on Wednesday placed in the family tomb at Prague’s Vinohradský cemetery. The private ceremony was attended by Václav Havel’s widow Dagmar, his brother Ivan with his wife, and several of the ex-president’s closest friends. The remains of the late president, playwright and human rights leader were placed in the tomb on the 15th anniversary of his marriage to his second wife.
The Czech Republic tennis squad on Wednesday beat the United States at the Hopman Cup in Perh, Australia, on Wednesday without losing a set. In the first singles match, world number two Petra Kvitová defeated Bethania Mattek-Sands 6:2, 6:1; Tomáš Berdych, ranked seventh in the world, then beat Mardy Fish 6:3, 6:3. In the mixed doubles match, the top-seeded Czech pair downed the Americans 6:3 and 7:6. On Friday, Petra Kvitová and Tomáš Berdych will take on Denmark.
Chelsea FC and Czech international Petr Čech has been voted the world’s fifth best goalkeeper by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics. The 26-year old Čech, who won the poll in 2005, came in 3rd last year. In this year’s poll, Petr Čech finished fifth with 41 points after Iker Casillas from Real Madrid, Manuel Neuer from Bayern Munich, Victor Valdes from FC Barcelona and Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus.
Czech hockey forward Jiří Hudler scored twice for the visiting Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday to help his club defeat the Dallas Stars by a score of 5:4. It was the second time in two games the forward scored and he also did so just ahead of his 28th birthday. The player was named the game’s first star. His first goal came in the 18th minute when he deflected a shot by Valtteri Filppula into net to give Detroit a 2:0 lead; he scored again a minute before the end of the first period to make it 3:1.
Meteorologists have warned against strong winds and heavy snow that will hit the Czech Republic on Thursday. A high alert has been issued for the Ústí region, in the north of the country. Winds in lower areas could reach a velocity of between 75 and 100 km per hour, and could exceed 130 km per hour in the mountains. Between 10 and 50 cm of fresh snow is expected in elevated areas.