There has been speculation regarding the state of President Miloš Zeman’s health in the wake of a bad fall last week. The president injured his knee after tripping in his apartment at night and is expected to be bound to a wheelchair for several weeks. His chief doctor, Health Minister Martin Holcát said the president’s condition was stabilized and he was being nursed by nuns. Mr. Holcát rejected speculation, which appeared in the weekly Týden on Monday, that the president was in a much more serious condition after reportedly having suffered a stroke.
President Zeman has said he expects all ministers in the country’s new cabinet to produce clean screening certificates. According to a law passed shortly after the fall of communism, all senior civil servants must undergo security screening to prove that they didn't collaborate with the former communist secret police. Although the legislation does not apply to government ministers former presidents have always enforced this condition. President Zeman’s spokeswoman Hana Burianová told Lidové Noviny that the present head of state would do likewise. The paper notes that this is undoubtedly a message for the leader of the ANO party, food magnate Andrej Babiš who is fighting to clear his name in Slovakia after appearing on the list of stb collaborators. A Slovak court is expected to rule on the case in January of next year at the earliest, the paper says.
Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka, whose party won the elections by a small margin and who is expected to lead coalition talks on forming the next government said on Monday he did not expect the president’s demand for screening certificates to pose a problem. Mr. Sobotka noted that the party or parties involved in setting up the next government would naturally be held accountable for the names of ministers they put forward. He said that either way the first round of talks usually focused on programme compatibility rather than personnel matters.
Police have cracked down on grow shops around the country. A police spokeswoman told Czech Radio on Monday that the operation had been planned for months ahead and confirmed that police were confiscating fertilizers, lamps and other equipment that make it possible to grow plants indoors. The stores are associated primarily with home cannabis cultivation. The police is expected to release more information on Tuesday.
The ANO party of food magnate Andrej Babiš has moved to prevent party-hopping, a fairly frequent occurrence in Czech politics. According to the internet news site aktualne.cz newly elected deputies for the party were asked to sign a code of ethics according to which a change of party allegiance would cost them the equivalent of a month’s salary. The code also bans them from employing family members as assistants. The party leadership has said that money collected in fines for violating the code would be donated to charity.
The Czech financial group PPF and Spain´s Telefonica have made a deal on PPF´s takeover of a majority stake in Telefonica CR and the document may be signed any day, a well-informed source told the CTK news agency on Monday. The Financial Times reported earlier that the price of the 69 percent stake changing hands is put at 2.5 billion euro (64.6 billion crowns). After PPF signs the deal it is expected to offer to buy the remaining 31 percent, Financial Times wrote. This would raise the price of the contract by 1 billion euro (25.9 billion crowns) and Telefonica CR would be fully in private hands. As a result its shares would be withdrawn from public markets. Spain´s Telefonica is the largest provider of telecoms services in Europe and is also the number one operator in the Czech Republic. Its debts have made it sell some of its operations.
The Health Ministry has proposed an amendment to the law on hospital fees which was invalidated by the Constitutional Court in July of this year. The ruling, which invalidated the 100 crown fee per day per patient, means that as of January 1, patients will not be asked to contribute anything to hospital care. Hospitals say this will create a serious financial problem. The Health Ministry, which has proposed bringing the fee down to 60 crowns per day, has urged the government and parliament to debate the proposed amendment in a state of legislative emergency which would allow it to come into force as of March next year.
Seventy-five percent of Czechs have never holidayed in an exotic location, according to the results of a survey conducted by the NMS agency. Three percent of Czechs said they picked exotic destinations for every holiday while 9 percent they enjoyed this luxury occasionally. The most popular destinations are currently Thailand, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and the United Arab Emirates. On average such a holiday costs 40,000 to 50,000 crowns per person.
The Czech Republic's largest jackpot of 400 million went to one winner in the Sportka lottery game, Vaclav Friedmann, a spokesman for the Sazka lottery company told the CTK news agency. The company does not yet know when and where the bet was placed. Sazka registered 78 new millionaires this year. Winnings paid out to them exceeded one billion crowns.
Stanislas Wawrinka claimed a three-set victory over Tomas Berdych in the opening game of the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London. Impressive serving helped the Swiss take the first set, but a resurgent Berdych capitalised on Wawrinka's errors in the second-set tie-break. However, Wawrinka turned on the style in the decider for a 6-3 6-7 (7-0) 6-3 victory in two hours and 25 minutes.