The Czech government on Wednesday approved legislation on the restitution
of church property. Under the new bill, 17 Czech churches and religious
societies will get back 56 percent of the property confiscated by the
communist regime in the 1950s. For the rest, the churches will receive 59
billion crowns, plus inflation, over the period of 30 years.
The decision comes after a heated dispute within the coalition; the junior Public Affairs opposed the bill but eventually agreed to support it after PM Nečas promised the respective funds would not be drawn from the ministries run by Public Affairs politicians.
In related news, the opposition Social Democrats said on Wednesday they would vote against the bill on the restitution of church property when it gets to Parliament. The party expressed concern that the bill might in effect break the Czech property restitution limit of February 1948. Opposition leaders also said the legislation should be approved in a referendum as it does not enjoy support of the public.
The political asylum the Czech authorities last week granted to the husband of the jailed Ukrainian leader Yulia Tymoshenko will not hurt relations between the two countries, according to an aide to the Ukrainian president. Hana Hermanova, an advisor to Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych, told a local TV station that the asylum presented no international problem for Ukraine, and relations between Prague and Kiev will remain friendly, adding the Ukrainian authorities were planning no retaliation for the move.
A group of expectant mothers and midwives will sue the Czech Republic at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg over home births, the news website tyden.cz reported on Wednesday. They complain that home births are not covered by medical insurance and midwives face administrative obstacles which effectively prevent them from doing their jobs. A lawyer representing the group said the complaint would be filed by the end of the month. A spokesman for the Czech health ministry rejected the claims, and argued that the wellbeing of mothers and newborns were the primary concern.
The state should cover the cost of treatment for drug addicts who can’t afford it, the Czech Supreme Administrative Court ruled on Wednesday. The court was dealing with a case of a woman who joined a therapeutic community but had no means to sustain herself, and the local authorities refused to grant her social benefits. The judges said the woman’s financial problems cannot prevent her from completing her treatment. The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry said it would wait for the verdict to be delivered in writing before instructing labour offices around the country to implement the ruling in their agenda.
An internal audit in the power producer ČEZ found no corruption in the firm’s dealings with its major supplier, Škoda Power. The audit confirmed a marked increase in contracts for the engineering company worth billions of crowns after 2004 when its former manager, Martin Roman, became the CEO of ČEZ. However, the surge was related to an overall rise in ČEZ investments, according to the probe which reviewed 39 contracts between the firms worth 26.4 billion crowns. Former ČEZ CEO Martin Roman, who stepped down in September, faced allegations of conflict of interest over his role in ČEZ and Škoda Power. However, critics pointed out the audit would have more weight if it had been carried out by an independent entity rather than the firm itself.
The two largest Czech e-shops, alza.cz and mall.cz, registered record sales worth over 10 billion crowns last year, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Wednesday. Alza.cz, which sells electronics, took in around 6.7 billion crowns while mall.cz, dealing in general merchandise, sold goods worth over 6.7 billion crowns.
A 10-year-old girl is in critical condition after she fell out of a boarding school window in a north Bohemian town on Wednesday. The girl fell onto a tarmac surface, and was taken by a helicopter to a hospital in Hradec Králové. Police refused to provide any details as the case is being investigated.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová beat Slovak Daniela Hantuchová 6:0, 6:4 at the Sydney International on Wednesday, and reached the tournament seminfinals where she will face Li Na of China. If the 21-year Czech wins the event, she will become world’s number one for the first time in her career, just days before the start of the Australian Open.