News Finance minister calls for resolution to Proton Therapy Centre dispute
Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has urged Health Minister Svatopluk Němec and the countrý’s largest health insurer VZP to try and resolve the controversy surrounding the Prague Proton Centre. Following a drawn out-controversy between the insurer and the centre the dispute looks set to end up in court in a case that Mr. Babiš said could cost the state billions of crowns. Police have filed charges of abuse of office against a former manager of VZP in connection with an agreement between the insurer and the Proton Therapy Centre, where he subsequently got a lucrative position. The insurance company is refusing to cooperate with the centre, instead sending cancer patients for treatment abroad, on the argument that the agreement on cooperation signed is highly disadvantageous for it.
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Elite police units from the regions of Karlovy Vary, Ústí, and Central Bohemia, as well as in neighboring Germany, succeeded after a several-month-long operation in uncovering a gang of car thieves who caused at least five million crowns in damages. Three men in their 40s have been arrested. Searches of the suspects' premises uncovered parts from at least 40 vehicles.
According to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute and a long-term forecast released on Saturday,temperatures in the run-up to this year's Christmas holidays are expected to be milder than usual. In December, daily temperatures should on average around six degrees Celsius in the days before the holidays, only dropping to zero around Christmas Eve.
Czech police have revealed and returned to the original owners two priceless wooden statues dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The statues, of two saints, Jan Nepomuk and Vojtěch, were stolen around 20 years ago, from a church and a historic monuments depository. The discovery was made in April in neighboring Austria.
Two cars of a Polish transport trained derailed on track near Ostrava late Friday and were dragged 1.5 kilometres along the side of the route before the vehicle stopped, broken into three pieces. No one was hurt on the incident. Damage to the railways, including utility poles which were struck down, has been tabulated at 5.6 million crowns. Use of the route will be limited for the next few weeks as repairs are conducted.
The Social Democrat leadership has come out against a proposed monthly wage increase for members of the legislature and the executive branch proposed by the budget committee of the lower house. If passed, MPs would see their monthly salary jump by more than 8000 crowns to 64 thousand. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka wants to meet with party MPs to discuss the matter. He is reportedly in favour of an increase of 3.5 percent, the same as for state employees.
The editorial board of the US daily the Washington Post published a
scathing editorial on Friday slamming leaders in the former eastern bloc,
specifically Czech President Miloš Zeman and Hungary's Prime Minister
Viktor Orban. The daily, reflecting on notable pro-Russian statements in
the face of EU sanctions and the crisis in Ukraine, described the Czech
president as a "virtual mouthpiece for Russian President Vladimir
Putin" and maintained as worrying that the current Czech government
had distanced itself from a human rights agenda laid out in the 1990's
by the former president Václav Havel. The late Mr Havel was honored in
Washington this week with a ceremonial bust unveiling. But his legacy has
been questioned by some Czech ministry officials as well as long criticised
by former president and rival Václav Klaus and associates.
In its piece, the Washington Post noted as positive that the behavior of both Mr Orban and Mr Zeman had led to protests in their respective countries. On November 17th, the Czech head-of-state was jeered by students during a plaque unveiling and his security detail had to open umbrellas to prevent the president from being pelted with eggs. Mr Zeman told the people in the crowd he was unafraid of them as he was unafraid to protest 25 years ago.
A new poll commissioned by Czech Radio, conducted by the Median agency, suggests that two-thirds of the population thinks the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has divided society and the same number is unsatisfied with how the head-of-state has represented the Czech Republic abroad. The survey comes on the heels of an earlier poll which found that public trust in Mr Zeman had dropped by a record number over the course of a single month. Public dissatisfaction with Mr Zeman's handling of the office has increased in relation to a marked pro-Russian stance and pro-Russian interpretation of events in Ukraine, the use of vulgar language in a recent traditional radio interview where he attacked the activist band Pussy Riot, and a questionable approach to China on a recent official visit. The president's office has maintained that foreign policy steps taken by Mr Zeman were in line with the government's foreign policy plans but critics have suggested otherwise. The prime minister is to discuss the matter with the president in mid-December.
The controversial Blanka tunnel complex in Prague will open in late March or early April, the Metrostav construction firm said on Friday. The tunnel, whose construction started in 2007, was originally to open in 2011 but has been hit by many delays, with the latest deadline set for December. The tunnel complex, which should channel through traffic from parts of Prague’s historic centre, has come under criticism for massive costs overruns which reached 37 billion crowns.
Public trust in President Miloš Zeman has fallen sharply, according to a survey by the CVVM agency released on Friday. Some 37 percent of people who took part in the poll said they trusted the president, down from 58 percent recorded last month, a record one-month decline. Trust in the president has been greatly affected by a series of controversial moves by Mr Zeman, including his visit to China, his comments on the crisis in Ukraine and on Russia’s role in the conflict, and an expletive-ridden radio interview, among others.
The remains of two men missing since last month’s explosion at an ammunition storage site in eastern Moravia have been found, the head of the police in Zlín, Jaromír Tkadleček, told a news conference on Friday. The men were employees of the firm that administered the storage facility destroyed by a massive explosion on October; the site was inaccessible for weeks due to continuing explosions of ammunition. The police boss also told reporters that the costs of clearing the area were likely to reach hundreds of millions of crowns.