Up to 40 percent of Czech will live from pay day to pay day, creating no financial reserves from their salaries, suggests a new survey by the Ipsos Tambor agency released on Monday. Some 21 percent of people who took part in the poll said they considered their financial situation to be good, while 13 percent said they planned to save and invest. 8 percent of those polled said they would like to pay off their debts this year.
The Czech Office for the Protection of Personal Data on Monday again called for the adoption of new legislation regulating camera surveillance systems. The data privacy watchdog said that surveillance of public spaces should only allowed for the purposes of protecting property and people against crime; cameras should not be placed in sites where surveillance would offend people’s dignity such as dressing rooms and toilets. The new bill should also determine how long recordings of camera surveillance can be stored. The Czech government’s Human Rights Council was supposed to come up with the respective bill last year.
Flowers and wreaths from Václav Havel’s funeral were dropped into the Elbe River at Děčín on Monday, after a three-day boat trip from Prague. Some 1,500 people watched the late Václav Havel’s friends and colleagues unbind the wreaths and throw the flowers into the river below the Děčín chateau. Former Czech human rights minister and a friend of the late Czech president Michael Kocáb, who came up with the idea, said only organic material would be thrown into the water. A couple of dozen people accompanied the flowers on their way from Prague to Děčín; one of the passengers said people stopped to greet the boat on the banks throughout the journey.
Tennis players Petra Kvitová and Tomáš Berdych have given the Czech Republic a 2-1 win over Bulgaria in their first round match-up in the Hopman Cup. Kvitová, last year’s Wimbledon champion beat opponent Tsvetana Pironkova 6-4,6-2, sweeping her aside in the last five games, while world no. 7 Berdych fought and won a three-setter against Grigor Dimitrov, who clawed back into the match winning a tie-break in the second set; the final score was 6 -4, 6-7, 6-3. Kvitová and Berdych’s strong opening round against Bulgaria was not flawless: the Czech duo lost their mixed-doubles match against Pironkova and Dimitrov by a score of 6:2, 3:6, 9:11 – the match dramatically going down the wire in the final set.
President Václav Klaus has given his annual New Year’s address to the nation. Mr Klaus said that a poor atmosphere in society and mutual distrust was worsening, partly due to various advocacy groups trying to acquire benefits for themselves at the expense of others. The country, he said, is unable to find political leaders because it reins in, rather than supports, those who step out of line. While noting that the Czech Republic was more stable than other countries of the EU, the president said that Czechs must fundamentally alter their approach and not increase their needs if the economy does not allow it. The coming year, he said, would not be an easy one, and the country will need further, speedy reforms to its political, economic and social system.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas praised the president’s speech for its rejection of false optimism and false promises while avoiding fear mongering over the state of the economy. Mr Nečas said he strongly agreed with Mr Klaus’ appeal for personal responsibility and call for support for the able, gifted and hard-working. Social Democratic Chairman Bohuslav Sobotka spoke against President Klaus’ criticism of advocacy groups and unfulfilled expectations from the country’s entry into the EU. Mr Sobotka said the president neglected the need for reforms to also be socially tolerable.
Three Czech citizens who were arrested in Zambia on charges of espionage have been returned home after two and a half months in captivity. The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it expects their court proceedings in Zambia will continue in their and hopes their innocence will be proven. The three men were visiting the Zambian capital of Lusaka as tourists after a business trip to South Africa in October. They were arrested and charged with spying after being found to have photographed an old Czechoslovak plane displayed in front of a military base.
This year’s New Year’s Eve was calmer for police, fire and medical services, the Czech Press Agency reports. Fire services around the country received a high volume of calls - twice the average in Prague. Most fires involved rubbish bins or greenery lit by fireworks. The most serious incidents were apparently unrelated to celebrations. Police have a suspect in the shooting of two men during a fight in the northern town of Tanvald. One road accident near Trutnov left one person dead and other in serious condition. A fire near Šumperk in Moravia threatened a leak of poisonous hydrogen cyanide, but was prevented.
Beginning on New Year’s Day, doctors who find that their patients are drivers and contract an ailment that limits their ability to drive must immediately notify the relevant authorities. The Ministry of Transportation says that such drivers will either have their licences revoked immediately or will be asked to retake their examinations. Officials hope the move will decrease the number of epileptics or people with serious heart conditions behind the wheel.