Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek was attacked by demonstrators at a protest in front of his ministry on Thursday. Several people spat at the minister and hit him. He had stepped out of the ministry to address protesters from the Stop the Government initiative. Some 200 people gathered there on Thursday afternoon for the last of a series of blockades in front of selected ministries. The demonstrators oppose the government’s reforms and austerity measures. Union members and other activists who have joined the initiative are calling on the government to resign.
Education Minister Petr Fiala has decided to freeze a planned controversial reform of the country’s university system. Instead of a new law, changes will be made via an amendment to the existing legislation. Mr Fiala also said on Thursday that he is planning to rework a much-debated legal change on university finances to where the introduction of tuition fees would no longer be mandatory. He is planning to discuss legislative changes with university representatives in weeks to come.
Ombudsman Pavel Varvařovský has threatened to resign from his post unless the lower house acts on his suggested changes to the legislation. Among the points that he has criticized is a bill under which a repeat-offender who does not have permanent residence in a given municipality could be banned from that municipality for up to three months. In addition, he has asked Parliament to cancel a law under which unemployed persons have to regularly report at Czech post offices while they are seeking work, a measure meant to cut down on unemployment benefit fraud.
The lawyers of former Central Bohemian governor David Rath, who is charged with corruption, have announced that they are preparing to file a constitutional complaint. One of the MP’s lawyers said that there are several points in the case that have raised legal questions which need to be addressed by the Constitutional Court. In particular, Mr Rath’s lawyers believe that the way in which he was stripped of his immunity may have been at odds with Czech law. Previously, Mr Rath had filed a constitutional complaint regarding his case.
A fresh poll suggests that former prime minister Jan Fischer would win the presidential elections if they were held today. In this most recent survey, former prime minister Miloš Zeman for the first time saw a better polling result than economist Jan Švejnar, who in previous surveys had come in second. Some 36 percent of respondents would cast their ballot in favor of Mr Fischer, while some 12.5 percent would vote for Mr Zeman. Some 11 percent of men and women polled believe that Mr Švejnar should become the country’s next president. Next year, Czech voters will be able to elect their president directly for the very first time.
According to a new survey by the STEM agency, the majority of Czechs believe that the current social welfare system does not motivate unemployed persons to actively seek work. Respondents said that unemployment benefits should be reduced in order to create an incentive for employment seekers. Nearly 70 percent believe that the government should cut down on unemployment benefits, while nearly 60 percent said that the current system creates little to no motivation.
Over 10,000 people have visited a concentration camp exhibition at Prague’s Karlovo náměstí. The exhibit was installed at the square on occasion of the 70-year-anniversary of the Heydrich assassination. The organizers, the civic initiative Post Bellum, say that every day, visitors are standing in line to see the provocative display. It maps the life stories of some 70 people who fought in the resistance and against the Nazi regime during World War II.
The Czech Trade Inspecting Authority has issued a warning regarding a green frog toy that is being sold on the Czech market. The toy, which is manufactured in China, has a sucker that infants may easily swallow and suffocate. A spokeswoman for the authority said that a ban had been issued on the sale of any such toys.
Police are investigating a case in which a 49-year-old man attempted to kill his 83-year-old mother. The man tried to strangle his mother, who was sleeping but awoke from the severe pain he inflicted on her. The perpetrator’s girlfriend heard her cries for help and intervened. Neighbors called the police. The victim was afraid to tell police what had happened and did not do so for several days after the attack. If found guilty, the man could face a prison sentence of up to 18 years.
Wimbledon champion Petra Kvítová beat Kazakh qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova 3-6 6-2 6-4 and reached the semi-finals of the French Open for the first time on Wednesday. Although Shvedova led Kvítová 4-2 in the final set, the Czech fourth seed kept her focus through driving rain to complete victory after her 142nd-ranked opponent drilled a backhand wide on matchpoint. Kvítová will now take on title favorite Maria Sharapova for a place in Saturday's final.