President Václav Klaus confirmed deputy chairman of the Civic Democratic Party Pavel Blažek as the country’s new justice minister in a ceremony at Prague Castle on Tuesday morning. In a speech, Mr Blažek cast doubt on any appointment of Lenka Bradáčová, a highly respected prosecutor and anti-corruption crusader, to the post of Prague High State Attorney. The new minister said he would not be taking orders from the Supreme State Attorney or following in the footsteps of his predecessor, both of whom he insinuated were controlled by regional politicians. The independent authority of state attorney, he said, should be kept in check. Pavel Blazek replaces Jiří Pospíšil whom the prime minister controversially sacked last week, criticising him of poor financial management. However, many have speculated that the decision was actually meant to block the imminent appointment of Bradáčová.
The president has signed an amendment to the Armed Services Act that will allow the army to use radio scramblers for training purposes. According to the new law, the devices can only be used under set conditions and when necessary for training, particularly for foreign missions. The army must inform the Czech Telecommunications Office and the Integrated Rescue System of their use beforehand. The same law also simplifies the sending of planes with humanitarian aid, which can now be decided on by the Defence Ministry rather than the entire government.
Heavy storms and torrential rain overnight are reported to have caused numerous problems in the northern parts of the country. High winds brought down power lines in Trutnov, Náchod and Hradec Králové leaving hundreds of people without electricity, a number of smaller roads have had to be closed down due to local flooding and cellars were inundated. No injuries have been reported. More storms of equal intensity are expected Tuesday night.
The zoo in Liberec is now home to three baby white tigers. The rare cubs were born to their four-year-old mother, Surya Bára, on Sunday morning. The births mark only the second successful attempt at breeding white tigers, the last having been ten years ago. The same animal bore three cubs last year but failed to care for them; the breeders then did not intervene and allowed the tigress to learn on her own – a decision they say Sunday’s birth proved to be the right one. The zoo’s tiger pavilion has been closed to the public as a precaution, but can be watched on a television screen elsewhere in the zoo.
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.
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.