News State school-leaving exams begin at secondary schools across Czech Republic

02-05-2014 12:51 | Jan Richter

Over 87,000 final year students at Czech secondary schools began taking their state school-leaving exams on Friday. The examination, which began with a math test, is scheduled to conclude on May 13. Students are required to take a test in the Czech language and literature and are free to choose between maths and a foreign language; some 64 percent opted for the language test, a vast majority of them choosing English, the news agency ČTK reported. Students also sit exams in two additional subjects. Unified school-leaving exams are taking place for the fourth year but the Education Ministry plans to make the system simpler and cheaper in the coming years.

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Social Watch criticizes Czech Republic over social housing, anti-Romany riots

30-07-2014 14:23 | Jan Richter

Social Watch, an international anti-poverty advocacy group, has criticized the Czech Republic over increasing numbers of overpriced and substandard accommodation facilities and continuing anti-Romany riots. In its annual report for 2013 released on Wednesday, the group says the country was affected by chaos, incompetence, record-high unemployment and decreasing living standards for a majority of the population. The group has also criticized a lack of women in the lower house of Parliament and other top political positions. 

Czech PM: EU’s sanctions on Russia won’t hurt Czech economy

30-07-2014 13:56 | Jan Richter

New EU sanctions against Russia adopted over Moscow’s support for the rebels in Ukraine will not have any significant impact on the Czech economy, the country’s prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said in a statement on Wednesday. The sanctions are targeting Russia’s oil sector, defence equipment and sensitive technologies. However, the Czech Republic’s trade ties to Russia are based on civilian goods, Mr Sobotka said. The opposition Civic Democrats have meanwhile question the prime minister’s claim, and said any effective sanctions must also logically hurt those who impose them. 

Report: Student allowed to retake exit test after accusing teacher of anti-Islamism

30-07-2014 13:44 updated | Jan Richter

The regional authorities in Ústí nad Labem have allowed a Muslim student to repeat her school-leaving exams at a local secondary medical school after she accused one of the teachers on the examination board of anti-Islamism, the news website idnes.cz reported on Wednesday. The student reportedly failed the Czech language exam in May; she claimed she was deliberately failed because she had objected to the teacher showing students anti-Muslim videos during his classes. The teacher, who also serves as an evangelical pastor in the city, has denied the claims but the regional authorities have approved the student’s request to resit the exams. 

Heavy storms with hail to hit Czech Republic

30-07-2014 12:30 | Jan Richter

Meteorologists have warned of heavy storms with hail that are to hit the Czech Republic on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday. The storms are expected to move in from Germany to western Bohemia before advancing to the east of the country. The warning is in place until Thursday evening. Meteorologists have also warned that torrential rain could flood roads and buildings in low-lying areas. 

Anti-corruption police raid Prague’s municipal services firm

30-07-2014 12:24 | Jan Richter

Detectives from the anti-corruption unit of the Czech police on Wednesday raided the headquarters of Pražské služby, a city-run firm providing municipal services in the capital, the news website lidovky.cz reported. A spokesman for the unit did not comment on the operation but the website said the police were searching for documents possibly related to the firm’s multi-billion deals on waste collection as a planned acquisition of an additional stake in the company by Prague City Hall. 

Top court strikes down legislation denying tax breaks to working pensioners

30-07-2014 12:13 | Jan Richter

The Czech Constitutional Court has struck down legislation that denies tax breaks to working pensioners. Acting on a motion filed by a group of senators, the court said the legislation created inequality by only denying tax breaks of some 25,000 crowns to people who were receiving pensions on January 1 of the given year but not to others who might began receiving pensions on any other day. The legislation was introduced in 2013 as part of the then centre-right government’s austerity measures. However, the lower house of Parliament is set to vote on a bill that would re-introduce tax breaks for working pensioners regardless of the Constitutional Court’s verdict. 

Attack victim Hrůza brought out of induced coma

30-07-2014 09:30 | Ian Willoughby

Doctors have brought musician Michal Hrůza out of an induced coma, his manager told reporters. The singer and songwriter, who is 43, suffered brain injuries as a result of being attacked in Ostrava nearly two weeks ago after reportedly attempting to calm an altercation on the city’s bar-filled Stodolní Street. Hrůza was in the city to perform at the Colours of Ostrava music festival. 

Sparta beat Malmo 4:2 in Champions League third qualifying round first leg

30-07-2014 09:23 | Ian Willoughby

Sparta Prague beat the Swedish club Malmo 4:2 in the first leg of their third round qualification tie for European soccer’s Champions League on Tuesday night. Sparta twice fell behind but recovered thanks to a hat-trick from captain David Lafata. The away leg takes place in Sweden next Wednesday. If the Czech title-holders capitalise on their advantage they will enter the final qualifying round for the lucrative competition. 

Former chief hygiene officer gets suspended sentence over dubious contract

29-07-2014 19:17 | Ian Willoughby

A Prague court has handed former chief hygiene officer Michael Vít a three-year suspended sentence for signing unnecessary contracts for advisory services while he was a deputy minister for health in 2007. Mr. Vít was found guilty of exceeding the powers of an official and breach of trust. He has been ordered to repay the ministry CZK 1.7 million crowns. The verdict can be appealed. 

Draft legislation envisages ban on smoking in Czech restaurants from 2016

29-07-2014 16:12 | Ian Willoughby

Smoking in restaurants and pubs in the Czech Republic could become illegal from January 2016, under a bill being prepared by the Minister of Health, Svatopluk Němeček, for presentation to the government later this year. Mr. Němeček has drawn on a previous unsuccessful amendment put forward by a predecessor, Leoš Heger, but has made some changes to the draft legislation, including adding a provision under which electronic cigarettes would be permitted in eateries. An estimated 30 percent of Czechs smoke, with around 18,000 people dying as a result of smoking in the Czech Republic every year. 

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