The head of the Liberal Democrats (LIDEM), Karolína Peake, has suggested
in an interview for Hospodářské noviny that it may be better if her
party remains in the current coalition with the Civic Democrats and TOP
09 rather than go into opposition as earlier threatened. The decision,
at least in part, she admitted, was influenced by an offer from MP Josef
Dobeš, a former education minister, to secure support among a group of
opposition MPs to prop up the government if LIDEM departs. Just before
holiday break, Mrs Peake was fired as defence minister, escalating the
current government crisis. In response, her party leadership called on its
remaining ministers to resign by January 10. LIDEM's top leadership will
address the situation again in the new year; talks are also to be held
the other two parties in government.
The Czech news agency, meanwhile, reports there is growing speculation that the prime minister may push for General Vlastimil Picek, a former chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, to lead the ministry next. General Picek, who was deputy defence minister, was fired by Mrs Peake on her first day on the job.
A Tupolev 204 jet airliner which was returning from Pardubice in the Czech Republic on Saturday crashed during landing in Moscow. According to reports, the plane left the runway upon landing at Vnukovo Airport, crashed into a fence and caught fire even as it broke into separate pieces. Two aboard the plane lost their lives and two are believed to have died in hospital. Others in the estimated eight person crew suffered serious injuries. There were no regular passengers on board and no one aboard the plane was of Czech nationality, broadcaster Czech TV said. The Tu-204 is a medium-range jet which can seat more than 200 people.
Two patients with swine flu are reportedly in critical condition at Prague’s General Teaching Hospital. Their condition, the spokeswoman said, is all the more complicated as both patients are also suffering from pneumonia; both patients are in their late 30s and are high-risk, as one previously had heart surgery and the other suffers from obesity. The spokeswoman said it was extremely difficult to outline a prognosis, suggesting how the patients would react to medicine and care was highly individual. Neither the Czech Republic nor its neighbours have been hit by a flu epidemic yet this season. A number of cases of swine flu are registered in the country each year.
Free testing of alcohol samples, offered by hygiene stations around the country since December 7, has wrapped up. Final statistics are still being compiled by the Health Ministry but spokeswoman Viktorie Plívová qualified the programme as a success which had saved numerous lives. Labs tested samples for the presence of methanol and other poisonous substances. In the region of Moravia-Silesia, which saw 22 of 39 deaths from methanol poisoning in bootleg liquor since mid-September, every tenth sample out of the 1,200 submitted was dangerous. Thirty-three samples contained methyl, the rest isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) the spokeswoman said. The chief hygiene officer Vladimír Valenta has warned Czechs not to consume spirits of unknown origin (ie. without new excise stamps) to try and head-off additional poisoning cases in light of the upcoming New Year celebrations.
Public broadcaster Czech TV will begin broadcasting ads for all nine candidates in the upcoming presidential election as of Saturday. Ads will be broadcast on ČT24 and on ČT1 from January 2 until January 9. The station, under law, has divided five hours of airtime equally among the presidential hopefuls ahead of the first round, and will give an hour each to the two remaining candidates who make it to the second round. The order in which ads will be broadcast will be determined by a lottery, the broadcaster made clear on its website. Czech Radio will begin broadcasting ads on January 2 through 9 on four stations: Radiožurnál, Dvojka, Vltava, and a regional platform. Barring a delay by the Constitutional Court, Czechs will go to the polls to elect their president directly for the first time on January 11 and 12.
A public tender on the sale of property for redevelopment in Prague 10 (between Moskevská and Krymská) is being met with opposition from a number of local residents and a civic association. Opponents of the sale, including acclaimed Czech artist Krištof Kintera 9 (a member of an initiative known as Start), are worried the sale, which includes an early 20th century Art Nouveau building, will see yet another green area in Vršovice disappear. Critics charge that Prague 10 is behaving as an investor and not looking out for the neighbourhood. The local city hall, which owns the property together with a private owner, is defending its decision on the grounds the land was outlined for possible development in the city’s zoning plans. Interested buyers will have to offer a minimum of 43 million crowns for the property. The city wants to sign a contract by June of next year.
January will see the start of a new six-month campaign focussing on the future of the Czech education system. Called “The Czech Republic discusses Education” the project is being organised by EDUin: it aims to draw from numerous sources including experts, teachers, firms and NGOs to outline main aims in the education system which would remain unchanged under new governments or new leadership at the Education Ministry. The project will include various seminars and debates. At the same time, the ministry itself is putting together a strategic programme for the education system up until 2020.
Czech hockey forward Matěj Beran, a member of the national team at the U20 World Championship, has received a one game suspension. The player will miss the junior team's match against Latvia on Sunday. The IIHF Disciplinary Panel reached the decision after reviewing a high-sticking penalty and cross-check by player delivered against Finn Joel Armia in their match on Friday. The panel called the actions displayed by the player “careless and dangerous”. In the championship the Czechs have so far won and lost once.
The chairman of the Czech Constitutional Court, Pavel Rychetský, is to be the Judge-Rapporteur for the complaint filed by senator Tomio Okamura over his disqualification from next year’s presidential race. Mr Rychetský has criticized the law on direct presidential election in the past. After studying the complaint, the chairman will present several options to be decided on by the rest of the judges.
The Senate voted not to deliberate on a bill stipulating salaries for federal judges and tax regulations for lawmakers. The bill thus automatically passed through the upper house and will be going straight to the president to be signed into law. According to the bill, judges’ salaries will be calculated as 2.75 of the national average salary, instead of the current 2.5, as of 1 January. The monthly salary for a judge would thus come out to under 63,000 crowns. The legislation also exempts members of the parliament from paying health and social insurance on their salary bonuses. The bonuses will still be taxable.
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