President Vaclav Klaus has signed an amendment to the copyright law allowing fake brand clothing confiscated by the police to be given to charities. Once the law comes into effect on May 1, the state will no longer be obliged to destroy all clothing and shoes bearing fake trademarks. However, all such trademarks will have to be removed before the goods can be given to children's homes and other social services. From September to December last year almost 500 million crowns worth of counterfeit brand clothing was confiscated.
The opposition Civic Democrats have significantly more public support than the other parties in parliament, according to a poll by the STEM agency released on Tuesday. Some 35 percent of those polled said they would vote for the Civic Democrats, ahead of the Communists with 19 percent and the governing Social Democrats with almost 17 percent.
The former leader of the Social Democratic Party Milos Zeman has said the future of the party is at threat thanks to what he called the current party leadership's "betrayal" of its pre-election programme. Speaking at a public meeting in the north-west Bohemian town of Most on Sunday, Mr Zeman criticised some Social Democrat representatives for making too many concessions to junior partners in government, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union. Discussing a possible return to politics from retirement, Mr Zeman said he would only be willing to return to party politics if the Social Democrats called an extraordinary convention ahead of the regular party congress planned for 2005.
The Interior Ministry has registered 31 political parties preparing to vie
for 24 possible seats in upcoming elections to the European Parliament in
June. The Interior Ministry made the announcement through its website
Saturday evening, noting that only one party had been denied: the
so-called "Coalition for the European Restoration of the Death
Sentence and True European Democracy". The party can appeal the
decision in court. Other parties registered include all mainstream
political parties in the Czech Parliament, as well as established
non-parliamentary parties like the European Democrats and the Greens.
Meanwhile the party founded by highly-controversial businessman Viktor Kozeny, the so-called Civic Federal Democracy, has also successfully registered for the upcoming elections. Mr Kozeny is the former Czech financier wanted on criminal charges in both the Czech Republic and the U.S..
Police on Saturday stepped in to break up a gathering of skinheads at a concert in Chrast, near Pilsen, west Bohemia, after skinheads at the concert began shouting fascistic slogans. The concert was being held at a local restaurant, and had not been authorised. Police, ran checks on eighty-five people present, taking six into custody for further questioning.
Just a week before the Czech Republic remains set to join the European Union in a wave of historic expansion, Czech President Vaclav Klaus has spoken at the Asian economic forum on the island of Po-ao, China, discussing the future of the EU. On Saturday the Czech president assured delegates that - despite the Czech Republic's joining - the country would remain open to the rest of the world. Mr Klaus compared EU accession to making an investment, which he added, need not always be a success. Meanwhile, during his appearance at the economic forum Mr Klaus had the opportunity to speak with former U.S. president George H.W. Bush, a former U.S. ambassador to China in the 1970s. One of the top issues discussed was the current situation in Iraq.
The 68th Ice Hockey World Championship officially kicked-off on Saturday in the Czech capital Prague, as well as the Czech Republic's third largest city Ostrava. International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel officially welcomed fans on Saturday afternoon to Prague's new Sazka arena, in advance of the Czech national team's opening game versus Latvia. The official opening followed two games earlier in the day in which Slovakia easily defeated Ukraine 2-0, and France fell to Austria 6-0.
Delegates from the UNIOS group of unions representing the gas industry and communal services have released a statement saying the government should scrap the system of civil servants' so-called 13th and 14th month bonus salaries in favour of raising workers' basic monthly wages. UNIOS chairman Karel Sladkovsky made the announcement on Saturday shortly after union representatives completed a meeting in Prague. Earlier in the week more than 200, 000 civil servants went on strike in the Czech Republic in protest of the government's decision to pay them only 10 percent, instead of the usual 50 percent of the 13th month bonus. Mr Sladkovsky criticised the government's plan to implement a new 16 point wage scale without, in his words, "knowing what to do next". Some 750, 000 work in the public sector, with roughly 450, 000 receiving salaries from the state budget.
The new Health Minister, Jozef Kubinyi, has criticised the method through which state-run hospitals were transferred under the administration of individual regions last year. Regional governors have repeatedly criticised the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla for handing over to them hospitals burdened by billions of crowns worth of debts. Minister Kubinyi has also appointed his new deputies, raising their number from four to six. He plans to put forward a reform of the health-care sector by the end of September. Mr Kubinyi's predecessor, Marie Souckova, was recalled last week for failing to produce a sound reform plan for the ailing health sector.