A new poll conducted by the Focus agency for the Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes, published Monday, suggests that only 15 percent of Czechs view Miloš Zeman’s role as president positively. In the survey, 38 percent viewed his first nine months negatively while 42 percent took a neutral stance, seeing his presidency so far as neither positive nor negative. The two previous heads-of-state, the late Václav Havel and Mr Zeman’s predecessor, Václav Klaus, both had higher approval ratings at this stage: Mr Havel had 80 percent and Mr Klaus, 75. Critics in the poll charged that Mr Zeman’s abrasive manner as well as his relationship with alcohol had cast the presidency in a bad light.
Representatives of the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democratic party are holding three-way talks on Monday to discuss the possible future coalition agreement. The Social Democrats and ANO had previously announced that they have reached an agreement on 99 percent of their platform priorities during their meetings held last week. The Christian Democratic chairman Pavel Bělobrádek described Monday’s talks as crucial, saying that they will determine whether the three parties will be able to form a coalition. At the same time, Social Democratic chairman Bohuslav Sobotka has criticized Mr. Bělobrádek for planning to travel to the United States for two weeks on Tuesday, in the middle of the critical coalition negotiations.
A court in South Africa has postponed a decision on whether it will release the Czech fugitive businessman Radovan Krejčíř from custody. Mr. Krejčíř is being held under the suspicion of attempted murder and kidnapping. He has offered to post bail of 50,000 rands (around 5,000 US dollars) to be released, though it was not accepted by the court, which should make a decision on Wednesday. Mr. Krejčíř escaped from the Czech Republic in 2005 and has been living in South Africa since around 2007. He was sentenced in absentia by a Czech court to 10.5 years in prison for tax evasion.
The police are investigating the fatal fall of an aerial lift near Špidlerův Mlýn with suspicion of negligent homicide and grievous bodily harm. The aerial lift, which was made to be used only for transporting equipment, fell on Friday, killing one person on board and seriously injuring four others, including two children. The aerial lift was operating legally, but was not meant to transport people. The group was being taken up to a mountain lodge at the time of the accident. The police estimate that the cabin fell from the height of around ten to twenty meters to the ground when the cable it was attached to snapped.
The biggest public health insurance provider VZP has announced that it will cover the costs of a genetic test, which helps doctors decide whether a patient with breast cancer should undergo chemotherapy. The test called Oncotype DX, which determines the risk of the cancer recurring after surgery, is currently carried out by a laboratory in the United States, and costs Czech customers around 100 thousand crowns. If the risk of recurrence is low, the oncologist can recommend less aggressive hormonal treatment instead of chemotherapy. Four oncological centers have already expressed interest and said that a currently few dozen patients could benefit from undergoing the test, which they would normally elect not to do because of the cost.
The monthly salaries of employees of state institutions will increase on average by 787 crowns, to an average salary of 24,644 crowns, according to the current budget proposal for next year. The pay hikes should cost the state an extra 4.33 billion crowns. According to the Czech Statistical Office, the average salary for the whole of the Czech Republic reached 24,953 crowns per month in the second quarter of this year. The number of state employees will most likely decrease next year by one tenth of a percent, or 514 places.
Twenty seven sculptors took part in a competition, organized by the Association of Sculptors of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, for the best bust of former president Václav Havel. The panel of judges reviewed 34 entries and will reveal the winner of the competition n Monday. All of the busts will be on display at the Academy of Science building in Prague starting Tuesday.
A hanukiah, or a traditional 9-branch candelabrum used during the Jewish festival Hanukah, from the collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague will be used by the American president at the White House this week. The rare hanukiah, originally from the town of Hrušov, was handed over by the Jewish Museum to the American embassy officials on Monday before being transported to the US. The museum lent another candelabrum to the White House for Hanukah also four years ago, upon the request of the first lady Michele Obama, who had visited the museum personally.
Footballer Tomáš Ujfaluši announced on Monday afternoon that he will be retiring from his professional career because of health problems. The 35-year-old signed a one-year contract with Sparta Praha this summer, after playing abroad for 13 years, but has not played in a single match in the past half a year. Ujfaluši started his professional career playing for Olomouc, and later was recruited by Hamburg, Fiorentina, Atletico Madrid and Galatsaray Istanbul. He has been struggling with knee problems for some time.
In a special ceremony on Sunday, the Czech hockey club Pardubice retired legendarygoalie Dominik Hašek’s No. 9, lifting his jersey to the rafters. Hašek, an Olympic gold medal champion, two-time Stanley Cup winner and six-time holder of the Vezina trophy, attended. Hašek began his career with HC Pardubice in the 1981/1982 season. In the NHL, Hašek first wore the number 34 and later 39 with which he was most associated.
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