The European Democrats, one of the smaller parties running in the June general elections staged a demonstration outside the government's headquarters on Wednesday in protest of alleged political discrimination. The party's leader Jan Kasl slammed the Finance Ministry's decision not to pay the party a 12 million crown subsidy which it had a right to on the basis of its results in the municipal elections. Kasl said that withholding the money two months before the elections amounted to political discrimination.
The Czech interior and defence ministries claim they have no proof that CIA planes carrying suspected terrorists and war prisoners had made several stop-over landings at Prague's Ruzyne Airport. Interior ministry spokeswoman Radka Kovarikova, told the CTK news agency the ministry had received no information about such flights. The human rights watchdog Amnesty International alleged last week that CIA planes had made a total of twenty stopovers in the Czech capital in the last couple of years. There has been ongoing speculation in the world media that the CIA transported suspected terrorists to jails in countries where they could be tortured. Amnesty asked Czech government officials for an explanation, saying that the Czech Republic may have assisted the CIA in violating international law.
A new network of high speed trains should be in place in the Czech Republic by the year 2020, Hospodarske noviny reported on Wednesday. Under a plan due to be approved by the government, the purchase of land for the creation of new rail corridors should begin next year. Currently the country has just one high speed train, the Pendolino, which has been running between Prague and Ostrava since December.
Doctors are planning more protest actions against Health Minister David Rath. The minister's radical reforms have met with opposition from a considerable number of doctors, dentists and medical staff who claim that they are undermining the quality of medical care. Rath's opponents say he has failed to consult any of the planned reforms with specialists in the field. A week of protests is being planned for mid-May although it is not yet clear what form they will take.
Czech football authorities have called off two matches involving first division FC Brno after 17 players came down with a flu like infection and have been quarantined for five days. FC Brno, currently just above the relegation zone, were due to host the team below them, FK Chmel Blsany, on Wednesday night. The away game to Slavia Prague on Saturday has also been postponed.
The mayor of Prague, Pavel Bem, says Czechs should vote in a referendum on whether to apply to hold the Olympic Games in the Czech capital. Prague has signalled its intentions to bid to host the Olympics in either 2016 or, more realistically, in 2020. However, there has been some opposition to the proposal, with critics saying the city could not cope with such a huge international event.
The government has decided to double the amount of money to be spent on flood prevention between 2007 and 2010. After a week of heavy flooding which showed that many municipalities were ill-prepared to deal with floods the Cabinet on Wednesday voted to spend eight to ten billion crowns on flood prevention measures and approved the setting up of a special flood fund. The government is also considering the possibility of helping people who live in high risk areas to move to safer ground, by buying their property or offering them a state owned plot of land in exchange for their own.
The government on Wednesday approved the nomination of Pavel Horak to the post of general director of the country's largest state-owned health insurance company VZP. His appointment has yet to be approved by Parliament. Horak is currently director of the General Teaching Hospital in Prague. VZP has had a temporary director since its former head Jirina Musilkova was sacked for alleged poor management.
President Klaus has vetoed a bill on the compulsory purchase of property on the grounds that in its present form it could be abused. The bill would enable the authorities to issue a compulsory purchase order in the public interest. Mr. Klaus said that the bill was vague in specifying what public interest entailed and that in his view it was in violation of the Constitution.