Soccer player David Bystroň, who currently plays defense for FC Viktoria Plzeň, has tested positive for doping and has been banned from playing for two years. The disciplinary committee of UEFA, the European football association, announced its decision to disqualify him from playing on Thursday. The 30-year-old soccer player had been tested at a November Champion’s League match; the blood sample was analyzed in January. Allegedly, traces of methamphetamine were found in his blood.
The north-eastern parts of the Czech Republic on Thursday morning reported worsening air pollution problems. The most affected areas include the regions of Ostrava, Olomouc and Brno, where pollution limits have been exceeded. Meteorologists have declared smog alerts in the areas of Třinec, Ostrava and Karviná, calling on the largest industrial polluters to scale-down production. Elderly and sick people as well as children are advised to limit their time outdoors.
Night temperatures in the Czech Republic’s mountainous areas are expected to drop below -40 degrees Celsius in the night from Saturday to Sunday. Meteorologists said that temperatures could even drop below the country’s lowest recorded temperature of -42.2 degrees. Frosts are also expected to hit in lower altitudes, with temperatures of up to -25 degrees forecast for Prague on the weekend. Harsh weather conditions hit the country last week; next Monday, temperatures are expected to rise above zero again.
The Czech Senate on Wednesday approved an amendment to the country's constitution introducing direct presidential elections. Many Senators for the Social Democrat party, which enjoys a majority in the upper house of Parliament, spoke against the bill which was put forth by the centre-right Czech government; however, 49 out of 81 Senators voted in favour of the new legislation. If signed into law by President Václav Klaus, the bill will allow Czechs to elect their president directly for the first time next year when Mr Klaus' second term expires. Among those who said that they would consider running for the president is Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, former prime minister Jan Fischer and economist Jan Švejnar.
After years of debates, Czech MPs on Wednesday voted to limit the law on parliamentary immunity. If approved by the Senate and signed into law by the president, the amendment to the Czech constitution will remove lawmakers’ immunity for life and will only cover their terms in Parliament. However, lawmakers will still have a choice whether any minor offences they commit will be dealt with by the authorities or by the respective committee of the house. A sweeping majority of MPs from across the parties voted for the change that will now be put to the vote in the Senate. Legislators will need to accordingly amend the Czech penal code before the legislation enters into force in January 2013.
The Czech Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution recommending that the Czech Republic join the EU’s fiscal compact. The resolution, which has no binding power, was passed with votes of opposition Social Democrats. Ahead of the vote on Wednesday, PM Petr Nečas addressed the Senate to explain the reasoning that led him to stay out of the treaty. However, the majority of senators remained unconvinced saying that his decision went against the country’s interests.
In a ballot vote, Czech Senators also rejected the president’s nominee for the Constitutional Court, Jan Sváček, over his past membership in the totalitarian Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Mr Sváček, who serves as Chief Justice of the Prague Municipal Court, joined the party in June 1989, just months before communism collapsed in the country. He has also been an advisor to President Václav Klaus since his election in 2003. In his appearance in the Senate, Justice Sváček argued he had to join the party in order to be able to become a judge; the Senators however remained unconvinced and refused to approve the nomination.
The Czech Republic’s unemployment rate in January rose to 9.1 percent, up by 0.5 percent from the previous month, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The jobless rate crossed the 9 percent mark for the first time since March last year. However, most analysts expected an even higher surge. The Jeseník district in the north-east of the country registered the highest unemployment rate of 17.8 percent; the lowest, of 3.4 percent was recorded in one of the capital districts.
Some 14 percent of Czechs are at risk of poverty and social exclusion which is the lowest share of all EU nations, according to a report by the Union’s statistics body, Eurostat. The figures are based on numbers of households whose income is below 60 percent of the national average. The list is topped by Bulgaria and Romania. The Czech Republic, along with Sweden and Luxembourg, also has the lowest share of people living at “very low work intensity homes”, that is homes where adults work less than 20 percent of their potential.
The police on Wednesday morning evacuated the Czech Republic’s air traffic control centre in Jeneč, on the western outskirts of Prague, over what turned out to be a toolbox, a police spokeswoman said. Dozens of the centre’ administrative staffers had to leave the building; however, air traffic controllers remained at the workplace and the incident had no effect on the safety of air traffic over the country, a spokesman for the agency said.