Former football international and coach turned head organiser of Germany's football World Cup, Franz Beckenbauer, is in Prague on a two-day visit to promote soccer's biggest event. On Monday afternoon Mr Beckenbauer met with both Czech football officials as well as with Czech president Vaclav Klaus. On Tuesday Mr Beckenbauer will meet with the Czech prime minister. The World Cup will kick off in neighbouring Germany in June. The last time Czechs competed in the event was sixteen years ago, in Italy in 1990.
Up to 95 percent of pharmacies in the Czech Republic closed their doors for three hours on Monday to protest changes to the pricing system on medicines introduced by Health Minister David Rath. Until now, pharmacists have warned that under the plan, which cuts pharmacists' margin of profit, a quarter of the country's chemists could go out of business. There are a total of 2,200 pharmacies in the country. Despite closing their doors on Monday, pharmacists remained on hand for acutely-ill patients. During the shut-down representatives put forward a petition at the office of the government: 1,500 signatures protesting Mr Rath's policies, asking for the prime minister's involvement.
A spokeswoman for the Supreme State Attorney, Renata Vesecka, has said the state attorney will apply for information on the recent shelving of the case by police, of a suspicious flat purchase by the former prime minister, Stanislav Gross. Unclear circumstances surrounding the flat's financing, along with murky business deals by Mr Gross' wife, sparked a government crisis that led to the prime minister stepping down in April of last year. The Supreme State Attorney's Office will ask for information from the Prague Municipal State Attorney's Office, which supervised Gross's case. Then it will decide whether to re-check the decision process. The Supreme State Attorney's Office normally reviews all serious cases in which investigations have been shelved. In the event of uncertainty, the Supreme State Attorney can order a case re-opened.
The Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan has ordered fire brigades to beginning gauging the structural safety of major buildings and shopping centres in the Czech Republic, following the tragedy in Katowice, Poland, at the weekend. In Katowice, the collapse of an exhibition hall killed 67 people, including two Czech nationals. In the Czech Republic, the monitoring will take up to one month. Like Poland, the Czech Republic has been hit by heavy snow in recent weeks, adding significant "stress" to flat-roof structures. One supermarket in the Czech Republic recently caved-in, but no one was seriously hurt.
The Czech Ministry for Trade & Industry has been taking steps to try and help LG Philips Displays, a plant in the region of eastern Moravia manufacturing TV screens, which shut down on Friday amidst financial difficulty. Until now, the plant has employed 1,300 people. Specialists say its permanent shutting down would have a devastating impact on the region. For now, operation is set to resume on Tuesday, with two out of three production lines running. For the long term: the Ministry for Trade & Industry is trying to work out a plan to save the factory, with options including securing an export loan from the Czech Export bank.
One Czech is officially known to have been among the 66 people who died
when a hotel roof collapsed in the Polish city of Katowice on Saturday
night. Meanwhile, a second Czech is believed to have been among the dead
and yet another is unaccounted for.
The Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, sent his condolences to his Polish counterpart, Lech Kaczynski. Mr Kaczynski had been due to visit Prague on Monday but cancelled the trip after announcing a day of mourning in Poland.
A group of Czech rescue workers have been helping look through the rubble of Saturday's disaster in Katowice, which is near the Czech-Polish border.
The defence minister, Karel Kuhnl, has described a case of corruption uncovered at his ministry as a personal failing. Mr Kuhnl's spokesperson told Czech Radio the minister would not neglect to take responsibility in the case, in which the director of the Defence Ministry's infrastructure division, Miroslav Bena, was arrested after being caught last week allegedly accepting a bribe of one million Czech crowns (over 40,000 US dollars). It is the biggest bribery scandal involving the ministry in some years.
The government is willing to provide assistance to Dutch company LG Philips, which shut down a factory employing 1,300 people in Moravia on Friday. The minister of finance, Bohuslav Sobotka, said the government would use the instruments at its disposal to help the TV screen manufacturer, but did not specify how. He said it was a pity, however, that LG Philips had not informed the Czech state it was in difficulties until it had shut its doors.