Outgoing Justice Minister Helena Válková, who is due to step down on March 1st, has hit back at political opponents, telling the Czech daily Právo that no one had the right to pretend her resignation was of her own free will. The minister, who indicated at the weekend she had not felt support from fellow members of the ANO movement headed by Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, said she had proposed a later date to step down than in roughly two weeks’ time, in order to complete unfinished work. She told the daily she did not sign a document which had been sent to her, but wrote her own letter of resignation. On Monday, leader Andrej Babiš reacted to her words, writing that he and Ms Válková had discussed her resignation several times. He added that she had been ANO’s most-criticised minister and not undeservingly. Had she not agreed to step down, he made clear, ANO would have proposed that she be recalled from her post.
A new poll by STEM/MARK suggests that only a third of Czechs who come down with the flu go to their doctor while 28 percent do not take time off but continue to work. According to the survey, those who do not opt for rest, do so to avoid a drop in their monthly salary. Two out of five of those who come down with the flu take official sick leave, while 17 percent make use of holiday days instead, not going to see their doctor. More than half of those asked said they did not think flu vaccines were effective.
The company eMoneyServices on Monday issued Prague City Hall a proposal for payments owed for its services running the Opencard transit pass system in the years 2014 and 2015. City Hall is ready to negotiate but is also preparing its own version, which should be passed by councilors next week, Mayor Adriana Krnáčová said. The proposal only covers some outstanding debts, not an additional 170 million crowns being contested in court. The mayor said that the City of Prague wants to improve relations with EMS, comparing the situation to a divorce. She made clear that matters needed to be resolved before new professional commitments could be made. She declined to say whether Prague could enter a new agreement with EMS.
The Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron in Afghanistan, commanded by Americans until now, is being led its first Czech commander, Major Miroslav Šajban, the spokeswoman for the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces Jana Růžičková told the Czech News Agency. Major Šajban took over the command at a ceremony at the international airport in Kabul on Saturday. The post is seen as recognition of the work of Czech pilots after eight years of deployment as well as an expression of trust, the spokeswoman said. Major Šajban will coordinate the activities of Afghan, Croatian, Czech, Hungarian and US members of the squadron. The Czech Republic has a 150-member unit in Afghanistan where it guards the Bagram air base. More than 100 other Czech soldiers train Afghan pilots, are in charge of logistics for Czech personnel and guard the Czech embassy.
Three men originally convicted to between 16 and 21 years in prison for their roles in the Czech Republic’s “methanol affair” were released last week pending a re-trial. The High Court in Olomouc allowed the release after their case was returned to the regional court in Zlín. Previously, they had been remanded in custody for fear they could try and flee from justice but the High Court found that circumstances have since changed. The three - Viktor Koláček, Martin Jirout and Libor Vanderka - are accused of having mixed and helped distribute deadly batches of bootleg liquor. In the methanol affair, almost 50 people died from drinking the laced alcohol. The first poisonings appeared in September 2012, leading the goverment to temporarily introduce partial prohibition. In February of this year, a court handed the two main perpetrators in the affair life sentences.
The Czech Republic could lose up to 1.5 billion crowns in a dispute over diesel oil in German storage tanks of Viktoriagruppe, Pavel Švagr, the chairman of the State Material Reserves Administration said on Sunday. The diesel oil stored in Krailing, Germany alone was worth one billion, he explained in a debate programme on Czech TV. The dispute over ownership started after the launch of insolvency proceedings with the company. A preliminary insolvency administrator issued a verdict in January which said the diesel oil stored in Germany was not owned by the Czech state. According to Švagr, the potential damage is related to the loss of the diesel oil itself stored in the Krailing facility, plus claims on Viktoriagruppe due to unpaid invoices, worth around 200 million. During a meeting with Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven, the German Ambassador to Prague last week Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka asked German authorities for help with shipping the oil from Viktoriagruppe´s stores to the Czech Republic.
Emissions of greenhouse gases decreased by 33 percent in the Czech Republic from 1990 - 2012 as the result of industry upgrades and is fulfilling Kyoto Protocol commitments, experts maintain. Climatologist Radim Tolasz told The Czech News Agency that almost all of the whole former eastern Bloc has met commitments without difficulty thanks to the restructuring of industries after the fall of communist regimes. But critics point out the environment in the country is still burdened by a prevalent dependence on fossil fuels and that excessive road traffic had also contributed strongly as an air pollutant. Vratislav Vozńik, the spokesman for the NGO Arnika criticised measures to save energy as inefficient and called the pace of decreasing greenhouse gases "slow". More than 80 percent of the gases come from energy, transport and industry, the rest from wastes and agriculture. The Environment Ministry is now preparing two new strategic documents aimed to further cut emissions and adapt the country to climate change. It is to submit them to the government in the latter half of the year.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych slipped to eighth spot in the ATP
rankings after failing on Sunday to defend his title from Rotterdam. He was
defeated by Swiss player Stan Warinka, who moved up to seventh spot. The
Swiss is ahead by 90 points.
In women's tennis, Petra Kvitová has moved to third in the WTA rankings.
Health Minister Svatopluk Němeček has said around 30 new community mental health clinics should be created in the Czech Republic over the next two years at the cost of around 10 million crowns each, working with an operational budget of around 450 million crowns annually. The minister commented the situation in the health sector on public broadcaster Czech TV. Each of the centres, he said, would employ 20 staff members, including a full-time and part-time psychiatrist, psychologist, medical and social workers. The project, at least in the beginning, will be financed from European funds. Once community centres are up and running, the minister said, the transformation of large psychiatric hospitals could begin. He stressed that it was of utmost importance, as a result of changes, that no patient in need of treatment ended up on the street.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has sent condolences to his Danish counterpart, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and strongly condemned terrorist attacks in Copenhagen on Saturday which left two people dead and five people injured. In a letter, the prime minister described the two deadly incidents, a shooting at a Copenhagen cafe and another near the main synagogue, as an attack on the principles of freedom and democracy. An extensive manhunt was launched in the city after the first shooting, which took place during a free speech debate at the Krudttonden cafe and cultural centre hosted by Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, known for controversial cartoons of Mohammed. The person believed to be behind both shootings was later killed in a shootout with the Danish police.