Ahead of a debate in the lower house of parliament over healthcare fees, the opposition Social Democrats said they want to revoke hospital-stay fees for children up to the age of 18. Currently all hospitalized patients, including children, pay 100 crowns per day. The Social Democrats released an official statement reiterating their earlier claims that if they win the 2014 elections they plan to revoke all healthcare fees that were introduced by Mirek Topolanek’s government.
Financial analysts at the Česká spořitelna bank have calculated that Czechs spend approximately 5% of their total expenses abroad, based on the fact that their spending outside of the Czech Republic by credit and debit cards amounted to 45.9 billion crowns last year. Analysts claim that the number of trans-border shopping trips is on the rise due, to a large extent, to the rise in the Value Added Tax and the weakening of the crown. What is interesting is that the Czech Statistical Office estimated the amount spent abroad to 2.3%, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Saturday. This may mean that the Czech households are not as badly off as it has seemed from official statistics, the report claims.
The Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting has launched an investigation over alleged violation of journalistic objectivity and balanced reporting of the presidential campaigns on Czech Television and the private TV Prima broadcaster. Two shows on Czech Television are being put in question over their objectivity, while Prima is being investigated over the choice of the candidate chosen for their televised presidential duels before the first round of elections, where nine candidates were in the running. The late night talk show of Jan Kraus has also been questioned over impartiality.
The second annual Arnošt Lustig Prize has been awarded to the radio and television announcer Kamila Moučková, who openly criticised the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and was a signatory of Charter 77. In August 1968, Ms Moučková said on live television that Czechoslovakia was occupied and was subsequently led out of the studio by Soviet soldiers. She was later fired and banned from working in her profession. Until 1989 Ms Moučková, who is now 85, worked as a cook, a cleaning lady and a factory worker, and was constantly questioned by the secreted police until the Velvet Revolution, when she was able to return to her previous occupation. The Arnošt Lustig Prize is awarded to people who have exhibited courage, perseverance and humanity throughout their life.
The Czech coronation jewels will be on display at the Prague Castle again after five years, for the occasion of the election of the new president. The jewels will be displayed at the Vladislav hall at Prague Castle between May 10 and 19. The entrance will be free of charge. Among the jewels is the St. Wenceslas crown that was made and first worn by Charles IV in 1347. The other objects, such as the royal sceptre, the orb and the coronation vestment come in the 14th, 16th and 17th centuries.
Holešovice Fashion Market is taking place on Friday and Saturday of this week for the fifth year in a row. The fashion market, held at Prague’s Holešovice market hall, offers clothes, accessories and other creations by Czech and Slovak independent designers. The market will be open on Saturday until 10 pm.
A specialized police unit, nicknamed ‘the headhunters’ in the press, successfully apprehended Uwe Giesemann – a German national wanted on an international arrest warrant for illegal gun possession and other charges. Germany’s criminal police last year uncovered more than 200 firearms in his home, one of them a bazooka. The 69-year-old suspect was caught in Karlovy Vary on Wednesday, the spokeswoman for the Police Presidium confirmed. A search of his apartment in the west Bohemian town uncovered a stash of weapons and other items including jewels, gold coins, and 290,000 euros in cash – together estimated as being worth more than one million euros. Police suspect the loot was gained through criminal activity. The suspect will be transferred to the German authorities.
State attorney Jan Petrásek filed a proposal on Friday with the Brno Regional Court for Ronald Adams, the CEO of Moravian lorry maker Tatra Truck, to be charged with corruption. Mr Adams, an American national, is suspected of having offered a 20 million crown bribe to try and secure a military contract with the Czech Army. He was accused by former defence minister Martin Barták, himself a suspect in the case. Mr Adams allegedly discussed the bribe at the IDET trade fair in Brno in 2009. In the past, Mr Adams refused to comment on the case, citing the ongoing investigation; later he described details of backstage negotiations between Tatra and representatives of the Czech state in an interview for Lidové noviny. He admitted to the daily that a bribe was mentioned but said he had only tried to suss out the situation.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas and ex-president Václav Klaus will attend the funeral of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher next week, according to government spokesman Jan Hrubeš. The funeral service is to be held on Wednesday, April 17 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London which can accommodate up to 2,300 guests. Former president Klaus has long cited Mrs Thatcher as an inspiration in politics; he met with her personally on many occasions. Among other former world leaders, Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan’s widow, Nancy Reagan, both declined invitations for health reasons, ČTK said.