Defense Minister Alexander Vondra on Friday handed out awards for bravery and merit ahead of the country’s public holiday on Sunday marking the 96th anniversary of the birth of Czechoslovakia. Among those honored were SWW army veteran Karel Serak, pilot Milan Zahorsky who has served on nine foreign missions since 1992, benefactress and art collector Meda Mladkova, brain surgeon Vladimir Benes and kayaker and two-fold Olympic medal winner Stepanka Hilgertova.
There will be a re-enforced police presence in the Czech capital on Sunday since several parties and groupings have registered planned marches on the state holiday. The pro-monarchy party Ceska Koruna is expecting a turnout of several hundred people as are a number of right and leftwing groupings. Police have appealed to drivers to avoid the city centre if at all possible in view of planned traffic restrictions.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has requested Russia to explain a diplomatic incident in which a car with a diplomatic license plate was stopped by Russian police. The incident reportedly happened in Yekaterinburg on Thursday. A Czech consulate car was stopped by traffic police who demanded that the driver take a breathalyzer test, despite the fact that he had not violated any traffic rules. The request was refused by the diplomat present who called the Czech consul to the scene. The police claim to have stopped the vehicle after getting tipped off by an anonymous source and the Czech consul told the CTK news agency later that the immediate presence of journalists and a local TV crew at the scene of the incident was highly suspicious. The consul has strongly rejected claims that the driver may have been drunk or had been speeding.
A bill on medicinal marihuana has gone into its third and final reading in the lower house. The legislation will allow patients with certain ailments to access a certain amount of marihuana on an electronic prescription. Although patients with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease have long fought for this to be made possible there is criticism of the fact that the drug will have to be fully covered by the patient and will be ill-affordable at approximately 10 000 to 15 000 crowns per month. If the bill is approved by both houses of Parliament medicinal marihuana should be available in the spring of next year. In the first year it would be imported, giving Czech producers time to establish themselves and the authorities time to impose and effective control mechanism.
The Senate on Friday approved a bill mitigating the volume of TV ads. The bill stipulates that TV commercials must never be any louder than the loudest part of the regular programme they have interrupted. A violation of the law could be punishable by a fine of up to 5 million crowns. The excessive volume of TV ads has raised numerous complaints from viewers in recent years. The bill still needs to be signed by the president and should be in force by mid-2013.
Police have arrested eight more people in connection with the recent methanol crisis which claimed 30 victims. According to a police spokesman the eight people arrested are some of the ring-leaders of the bootleg liquor distribution network in Moravia. Charges are being pressed against all of the detained but in view of the ongoing investigation the police have not released any further details.
Prime Minister Petr Necas has said he wants to meet with Ludmila Mullerova in person before proposing her appointment to the post of labour and social affairs minister. The prime minister said he wanted to hear Ms. Mullerova’s plans for the ministry and debate certain problem areas before making up his mind. Ms. Mullerova, a former deputy labour minister, who served as an aide to the outgoing Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jaromir Drabek has been selected by TOP 09 as the most suitable candidate for the past.
Pavel Kouda, former deputy governor of the Usti region, who is suspected of abusing EU funds was released from custody on Friday. According to the state attorney, he will no longer be able to influence witnesses since those vital to the case have already testified. Kouda, a member of the Social Democratic Party until his arrest in September, is the highest-ranking official involved in the series of scandals around the distribution of EU subsidies within the Northwest regional operational programme in the Usti and Karlovy Vary regions. He was to have been the party’s number two candidate in regional elections but the party withdrew his candidacy shortly after his arrest.
A bill which would amend the problematic law according to which both parents must give consent to their child’s medical treatment has gone through its first reading in the lower house and is to be debated by the health committee. According to the amendment the consent of one parent or that of the child alone would suffice. The existing legislation caused numerous problems when children needed urgent attention fast and one or both parents were not on hand to provide it. Not just parents but many doctors have called for it to be modified.
Czech football club Sparta Prague scored three first-half goals against visitors Hapoel Kiryat Shmona on Thursday with the Israeli side earning only a consolation goal in the second. Ladislav Krejčí and Václav Kadlec put Sparta up by two in the opening ten minutes and Ondřej Švejdík headed in a third before the break. Shimon Abuhazira got the Israeli club’s lone goal. Sparta are in second place in Group I, behind Olympique Lyonnais. In other Europa League action, Viktoria Plzeň earned a 2:1 win against Tel Aviv, who were down to 10 men. After three games, Plzeň are in good shape in Group B, in second place behind Atletico Madrid.