A two-day Chinese Investment Forum has got underway at Prague Castle attended by over 500 Chinese and 700 Czech and other European delegates, including many senior politicians and businesspeople. The morning session of the conference on Thursday began with speeches from the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, and China’s first deputy prime minister, Zhang Gaoli. Czech President Miloš Zeman will be among the guests at a gala evening at Prague Castle’s Spanish Hall on Thursday evening. The investment forum is the biggest event of its kind held in the Czech Republic.
Two dozen human rights activists gathered outside Prague Castle on Thursday morning to protest against the Chinese Investment Forum taking place there. Among the protesters, who held banners reading "China stop shooting Tibetans", was former environment minister Martin Bursík. Mr. Bursík slammed the government for allegedly putting economic interests above human rights. Chinese businessmen arriving at the conference ostensibly ignored their presence.
Detectives from the national anti-drugs squad have cracked down on a large scale-supplier of materials for the illicit production of drugs. The forty-one year old owner of a chain of shops selling chemical supplies was arrested at the end of July, but the police have only now revealed details of the case which is unprecedented on Czech scale. The chain of shops around the country served as a smoke screen and all contained large quantities of chemicals needed for the illegal production of crystal methamphetamine. According to a police spokesman the chemicals confiscated during the police raids could have made drugs with a street value of two and a half billion crowns.
President Miloš Zeman has come out in support of a strong national supermarket chain which would favour Czech-made products and help local producers. Speaking at the opening of the annual agricultural food fair Země Živitelka on Thursday, criticized to sales policy of supra-national chains and their growing profit margins. He noted that while 15 years ago the profit margin on a bread roll was around 15 percent, now it is 63 percent and pretty much the same goes for other commodities. At present the only national chain is Coop which is too small to stand up to the supranational giants on the market.
Several dozen people have signed an internet petition requesting a presidential pardon for the nurse who is said to have performed euthanasia on a terminally ill patient. Among the signatories are both people who claim to know her in person and complete strangers. The case has triggered a heated debate about euthanasia on social networks. The nurse who allegedly gave her patient a higher amount of drugs to assist her death, has been charged with murder. If convicted she would face a sentence of up to 18 years.
Living standards in the Czech Republic dropped slightly last year as compared to the original 15 eurozone countries, with the country’s per capita GDP dropping to 74.1 percent of the EU average, the Czech Statistics Office reported. The figure had been at 75 percent for the three previous years. Czech households recorded the third consecutive decrease in net incomes last year. According to Czech Finance Ministry estimates living standards in the Czech Republic are expected to see moderate growth again this year.
Police on Thursday released fresh details on the case of a woman who suffered an acid attack in Prague earlier this week. The woman was allegedly attacked by her ex-boyfriend whom she had broken up with shortly before the incident. It took the police some time to track the man down since he had been living with the woman under a false name. He has been charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm for which he could be sentenced to 12 years in prison. The woman remains in hospital in serious condition.
The Social Affairs and Labour Ministry is drafting a proposed amendment to the law which should help the parents of twins, triplets and other multiples who are financially disadvantaged under the present system of state aid. Under the proposal the state would cover the expenses for a nanny and increase the one-off state bonus for the birth of two or more children. According to Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová Tominová it is unfair and illogical that the parents of more children from one birth are financially worse off than parents who have the same number of children in succession. The problem was highlighted in particular with the birth of quintuplets to a Czech mother last year.
The government has failed to reach a joint position on a ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants. Coalition party ANO is pushing for a blanket ban but after a debate on the matter on Wednesday the cabinet issued a statement saying that while there was general agreement on the idea it preferred a broader amendment that the minister of health, Svatopluk Němeček, is due to produce by the end of the year. Numerous attempts to introduce such a prohibition in the past have come to nothing. An estimated 30 percent of Czechs smoke cigarettes, with around 18,000 people dying as a result of smoking in this country annually.
The country’s leading base jumper Martin Trdla died in an accident on Snežka mountain on Thursday, the ctk news agency reported. Trdla apparently lost control after jumping from a powered hand glider and fell from a height of several hundred metres, landing on the Polish side of Snežka mountain. A mountain rescue team confirmed his identity.