Police specialists are launching an inspection of 18 munitions depots around the country this week. The inspections, which are expected to last for several weeks, are to ascertain the conditions in which vast amounts of munition are stored in these warehouses. The move comes in the wake of a devastating explosion at a munitions depot in Moravia, which pyrotechnics experts have not yet been able to bring fully under control. According to inside sources the amount of munitions in the said depot exceeded given security norms. Around 20 private firms store munitions in around 30 warehouses around the country. The Czech Army has seven more munitions depots of its own.
The Czech National Bank on Thursday revised its economic growth forecast for 2014 down to 2.5 from its previous July estimate of 2.9 percent. Next year’s growth which it previously estimated at 3.0 percent was also revised down to 2.5 percent. In 2016 the central bank predicts a growth of 2.8 percent. At a press briefing in Prague the bank’s governor, Miroslav Singer, confirmed that the forex interventions launched last year would not let up before 2016.
President Miloš Zeman on Thursday signed into law a bill abolishing regulatory health care fees as of January 1st, 2015. As of next year patients will not have to pay a 30-crown fee for a visit to the doctor and the same amount for a prescription. The 90-crown fee for emergency care will remain in place.
During talks with Palestinian leaders in Ramallah on Thursday Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek condemned the continuing acts of violence between Israelis and Palestinians and urged the two sides to resume their peace-talks on a two-state set up. Mr. Zaorálek said that acts of violence, similar to the one that killed one person and wounded three others in Jerusalem on Wednesday, only led to an escalation of tension. At the same time he said acts of humiliation on the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem only stirred up fresh violence. On a visit to the Aida Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem, the Czech foreign minister described it as a “ticking bomb”. The Czech Republic has not officially recognized the Palestinian state and maintains that a lasting solution to the conflict can only come through peace talks between the two sides.
A 39-year-old hunter who accidentally shot dead a man sleeping rough in a field has been sentenced to 3.5 years in prison and order to pay 6 million crowns in compensation to the man’s family. The hunter claims he thought was shooting at stag in the early hours of dawn. The Czech Hunters Association has appealed for greater discipline among its members, saying it is unacceptable to fire at a moving object in the foliage which the hunter cannot properly see.
The Czech Republic’s foreign trade balance showed a surplus of 19.3 billion crowns in September. Economists say the news is encouraging and proves that the slide in August of this year was a temporary problem caused by seasonal factors and the fact that the automobile producer Škoda, one of the main driving forces in foreign trade, was in the process of launching production of its new model Fabia.
TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg said in an interview for the APA agency that he has no plans to resign as party leader following the party’s debacle in the recent local and Senate elections. Mr. Schwarzenberg said the party was paying the price for the austerity measures introduced while it was in government between 2010 and 2013. He likewise put TOP 09s poor showing in the elections down to a lackluster campaign.
Justice Minister Helena Válkova has said the case in which a deranged woman attacked students in a secondary school in Ždár was the fault of the court which approved her release from a mental institution. Minister Válková said that the present legislation provided adequate means of reducing the risk of such incidents but this required a responsible attitude on the part of courts which should request a medical opinion from more than one expert before reaching a decision. The minister requested an inspection into how courts proceed in the case of psychiatric patients and said the results showed a lack of unified procedure.
Supreme State Attorney Lenka Bradáčová is the most influential woman in the Czech Republic, according to the Czech edition of Forbes magazine. Ms Bradáčová is followed by the newly-appointed EU commissioner Věra Jourová and the chairwoman of the Energy Regulatory Office Alena Vitásková. The list includes female managers, company owners, as well as womwn involved in public administration, the non-profit sector, media, culture and sport.
A new biography of Václav Havel, written by his former press secretary, advisor and long-time friend Michael Žantovský, will be officially released on Thursday in Britain and the U.S. The biography, entitled Havel: A Life, maps Mr Havel’s journey from dissident playwright to president. Mr Žantovský, who is currently the Czech ambassador to London, wrote the book in English. Its Czech version is already selling in bookstores around the country.