President Vaclav Klaus is to appoint Civic Democrat deputy leader Pavel Blažek to the post of justice minister on Tuesday. Mr. Blazek will replace Jiří Pospíšil whom the prime minister unexpectedly sacked last week, criticising him for poor financial management and procrastinating on tough decisions. However, many have speculated that the decision was actually meant to block the imminent appointment of a highly respected prosecutor and anti-corruption crusader to the post of Prague High State Attorney.
The former Prague High State Prosecutor Vlastimil Rampula and his long-standing deputy Libor Grygarek have resigned as state attorneys. Mr. Rampula was forced to leave the High State Attorneys Office in Prague after a court upheld former justice minister Jiří Pospíšil’s decision to sack him. Vlastimil Rampula was removed on suspicion that he was helping to sweep big corruption cases involving politicians under the carpet.
The opposition Social Democrats have called for the dismissal of Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek whom they accuse of botching the government’s fiscal reform, being responsible for the problems with EU funding and most recently trying to influence the investigation into the overpriced purchase of Spanish military CASA planes. Party leader Bohuslav Sobotka said on Monday that the finance minister had become a serious liability and urged the prime minister to act with the same speed with which he had earlier dismissed the justice minister for alleged poor financial management. The opposition argues that the finance minister’s painful fiscal cure in the form of VAT hikes is clearly not working since the state deficit in the first half of this year is at the same level as last year and the country is clearly not going to meet its fiscal targets.
Trade unions are preparing to publish their own plans for how the country should save and enact reforms. The confederation of trade unions is preparing a programme called Vision for the Czech Republic, that is intended to be an alternative to the government’s proposals and cuts, which they have long said worsen living standards for the majority of people and do nothing for the economy. One of the main points of the plan will likely be pension reform, the current form of which the unions say will cost the state 20 billion crowns next year without fully covering today’s pensioners.
All three participants in the multi-billion crown tender for the expansion of the Temelín nuclear power plant have submitted their bids to the Czech power giant ČEZ. The bidders are the US-based Westinghouse, France’s Areva and a Czech-Russia consortium. The bidders have all promised the lion’s share of the work to Czech companies. ČEZ will be assessing the bids for most of the second half of the year and is expected to announce the winner in the course of 2013. The third and fourth units of the Temelín power plant are to be completed by 2025.
The health ministry is preparing to extend the list of medicaments which patients will have to pay for in full as “above standard” health care items. The list is to be extended as of next year by 70 medicaments and treatments largely in the field of gynaecology, urology and surgery. As of this week Czechs are paying more for several dozen over-the counter medicaments such as pain killers and allergy products.
A Czech tourist is reported to have died of dehydration while on a hike to Hum, a hilltop medieval town on the Istrian peninsula of Croatia. According to the internet news site 24sata.hr the woman was making the trip with her husband and neither was suitably attired or had thought to bring bottled water. The man called the emergency services when his wife collapsed with exhaustion but medics were unable to revive her. An autopsy is being performed to ascertain the precise cause of death.
A truck passing through the town of Přerov unexpectedly careened off the main road and smashed into a building around mid-day on Monday. The forty-nine-year-old driver was rushed to hospital with severe injuries. The building was badly damaged and may be slated for demolition. The ceiling between the ground and first floor collapsed on impact and firemen are sifting through the debris. It is believed to have been empty at the time of the accident.
Meteorologists have issued a severe storm warning for most parts of the country valid from late Monday to early Tuesday. A belt of heavy rain is expected to pass over the country –west to east- bringing hail storms, high winds and in some areas persistent rain which could swell smaller rivers. The warning includes a call for people to secure their windows and garden furniture. Heavy storms in the Karlovy Vary region on Monday night caused electricity fallouts and disrupted road and rail traffic for hours. Maintenance workers were out all night and for most of the morning removing fallen trees from rail tracks and roads.
Defending champion Petra Kvitová came back from a set and a break down to beat Italian Francesca Schiavone 4-6 7-5 6-1 in a rain-disrupted fourth-round match at Wimbledon on Monday. Kvitová, the fourth seed, looked to be in trouble when former French Open champion Schiavone went a set and 2-1 up, taking advantage of a double fault to help her break the Czech. Kvitová, however, broke straight back and went 6-5 up before light rain began falling resulting in several stops and starts which unsettled Schiavone. In the third set Kvitová raced through two breaks of serve to wrap up the set in 39 minutes. She will now face the former champion Serena Williams.