Prime Minister Petr Nečas has backed the head of the Czech intelligence service, Jiří Lang who recently came under criticism over leaked wiretaps. The prime minister told Czech TV on Sunday that he had full confidence in Mr Lang who was a loyal official and a good director of the service. Mr Lang was criticized over leaks of wiretapped phone conversations between former Prague mayor Pavel Bém and an influential lobbyist which revealed corruption and cronyism at Prague City Hall. One of the wiretaps also suggested the lobbyist, Roman Janoušek, had contacts among top officials of the intelligence service.
In related news, the Czech government will this week discuss proposals to
introduce compulsory registration of lobbyists, the news agency ČTK
reported on Sunday. Under the proposed legislation, lobbyists would have to
register with a newly established institute while public officials
including MPs, and Senators, members of the government as well as their
assistants would be required to make their scheduled meetings available on
the internet. If the government approves the proposal, the respective bill
should be ready by the middle of the year.
The government will discuss the proposed legislation at a time when lobbying came into the spotlight due to a scandal involving former Prague mayor Pavel Bém. Leaked wiretaps revealed that Mr Bém consulted some of his key decisions with a lobbyist, Roman Janoušek.
New health care legislation that enters into force on Sunday gives more rights to patients. They are now for example entitled to go through their own medical records and make copies of them; some decisions by doctors now also require the patients’ informed consent and it will be easier to file complaints against health care providers. Patients are now also entitled to leave instructions for the doctors concerning life-sustaining treatment. The new legislation, which also mandates insurance companies to cover vaccination against cervix cancer for girls aged 13, is part of a broader health care reform pursued by the centre-right Czech government.
Forty-four people died on Czech roads in March 2012, which is the lowest number of road deaths for that months recorded since 1990. Last year, 45 people died in traffic accidents in March, a significant decrease since the 1990s. The police registered nearly 5,900 accidents last months, a slight increase compared to last year.
Tereza Chlebovská, a 22-year-old student from Krnov, has been voted the Miss Czech Republic 2012. The winner of the beauty pageant received the most votes from the viewers of the show, and was crowned by the Italian actress Claudia Cardinale on Saturday. The jury chose 18-year-old Linda Bartošová from Pardubice to represent the country at Miss World 2012.
HC Plzeň 1929 beat Kometa Brno 3:2 in the fourth game of the hockey league’s best-of-seven semifinal series in Brno on Saturday. The hosts’ victory could end the series but Plzeň played a great game, and were leading 3:1 just after the start of the second period. Brno brought the gap down to 3:2 several minutes later but were unable to equalize. The series now moves on to Plzeň where the two teams will clash again on Monday. On Sunday, the other semifinal series continues between Pardubice and Liberec.
Addressing the latest wiretapping scandal which exposed past corruption
and cronyism at Prague City Hall, President Václav Klaus said various
special interest groups attempted to take advantage of the difficult times
the country is going through to increase their influence. In an opinion
piece for the daily Mladá fronta Dnes on Saturday, Mr Klaus also
criticized the media for assisting the special interest groups by
publishing “artificially created scandals”. These media campaigns, the
president said, threatened to destroy the country’s democratic system.
President Václav Klaus had come under fire for his stance on the latest scandal. He criticized the leaking of the wiretaps as an attempt to “destroy democracy”. However, Mr Klaus failed to address the contents of the recordings which suggest that former Prague Mayor Pavel Bém discussed some of his decisions with a powerful lobbyist.
The coalition Public Affairs party received money from anonymous donors,
the daily Právo reported on Saturday. Two out of the party’s three
biggest donors last year are bearer share companies; one of them is
registered in Panama. Together, they donated over six million crowns to the
party. Deputy party leader, and deputy prime minister Karolína Peake said
she was “taken aback” by the report, and would make inquiries within
The junior coalition Public Affairs party, which in 2010 ran on a strong anti-corruption platform, was itself recently rocked by corruption scandals; their founder and unofficial leader, Vít Bárta, is being tried for bribery. One of the party’s promises was to abolish bearer share companies, seen as a major corruption vehicle in the Czech Republic.
Oldřich Černý, the head of the Forum 2000 Foundation and a former collaborator of the late president Václav Havel, died on Saturday at the age of 65, a spokesman for the foundation said. Oldřich Černý worked as a book editor and translator before he became a security advisor to president Havel in 1990. He was also the head of the Czech intelligence services for some time in the 1990s. In 1999, he became the executive director of the Forum 2000 Foundation, an organization co-founded by Václav Havel which brought to Prague some of the world’s leading thinkers and intellectuals for annual conferences.
Dozens of people gathered for an anti-Roma rally in Varnsdorf, in the north of the country on Saturday. They protested against new “ghettos”, low-income community sites mostly inhabited by Romanies which they said were appearing in the town. The protesters also signed a petition addressed to the government. A planned march through the town’s Romanies districts was cancelled at the last minute. A police spokesman said not incidents had been registered at the rally.