Prime Minister Petr Nečas has slammed police president Petr Lessy for attacking his superior in an interview for the daily Pravo. The prime minister said that the accusations made were not only ill-considered but totally unacceptable if the police president did not produce evidence to back them up. In an interview for Friday’s edition of Pravo Mr. Lessy said the interior minister had resorted to blackmail in an effort to get him to resign. Interior Minister Jan Kubice is reportedly considering filing charges of slander against him. Although Petr Lessy said later his words had been distorted the paper promptly produced a tape to prove that this was not the case. Relations between Mr. Lessy and the prime minister have been strained after the police president accused politicians of putting pressure on detectives investigating sensitive cases involving corruption in high places.
The Prague City Council has announced it is going ahead with major changes to the city transport network despite warnings from experts who say they have been ill-prepared and poorly communicated. The overhaul of the system, which aims to save 400 million crowns annually, includes scrapping certain bus and tram lines, re-routing others and introducing mini-buses mainly in the suburbs. The Prague-based NGO Auto-Mat has accused the authorities of squandering money and making passengers foot the bill. The changes are due to come into effect in September.
A total of 1390 homosexual couples have entered into registered partnerships in the 10.5 million Czech Republic since the respective law came into force in July 2006. 130 couples have since terminated the arrangement. The Czech Republic was first in the post-communist bloc to legalise same-sex partnerships which has led a few dozen foreign couples to tie the knot in this country. The same-sex partnership offers similar rights to marriage but does not allow the couple to adopt children.
Police in Teplice are up in arms over a new regulation concerning officers working in plain clothes. The regional police chief has introduced a dress code for plain-clothes officers, ordering them to wear long trousers, closed shoes and shirts with collars. He said officers had been dressing informally and looked more like basketball players or tourists which tarnished the forces reputation when they were unexpectedly called to deal with a case and produced police credentials. Officers say the new dress code will make them a laughingstock and make it impossible for them to deal with informers of infiltrate the criminal underworld.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová has won her first title of the season when she beat China’s Li Na 7:5, 2:6, 6:3 at the final of the Rogers Cup tournament in Montreal, Canada, on Monday. The Czech was losing 1:3 in the first set but saved a break point and eventually took the set. She lost the second set but in the third, she improved and won a key break point in the sixth game. Kvitová, who was knocked out of the Olympic tournament’s quarterfinals, moved up one position to 5th place in the WTA rankings.
The second instalment of the Prague Pride festival of sexual minorities kicked off in the Czech capital on Monday. The festival programme offers some 80 concerts, exhibitions, parties, debates and other events. The festival, held under the auspices of Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, received backing from 11 embassies including those of the US, UK, Switzerland, and others. For their part, Czech conservatives groups have voiced protests against the festival, dismissing it as an expression of “homosexualism”. The festival will culminate on Saturday with a march through the city centre.
The Czech Supreme Auditing Office on Monday proposed to abolish the State Culture Fund, along with other similar bodies, on the grounds that they fail to fulfil their missions. The auditing authority carried out inspections in the funds, set up to provide state support in various fields including housing, the environment, and cinema. The auditors discovered that over the last six years, the State Culture Fund has not paid a single grant for any cultural project, a spokeswoman for the auditing authority said.
The operating costs of Czech health insurance companies are the lowest in Europe, according to an OECD report released on Monday. Over the last 20 years, the costs decreased from 12 to 3.2 percent of the companies’ total expenses. The OECD list of insurance firms by their operational costs is topped by Germany where the expenses amount to 6.8 percent. Experts say that operating costs in the Czech Republic were driven down by competition among various health insurers. The country’s largest health insurance company, the VZP, has six million clients, followed by the Czech Interior Ministry’s insurer, with around 1.2 million clients.
The Czech Republic’s security council will meet on Tuesday to analyze the Czech Republic’s counter terrorism strategy and learn from other countries’ know-how in helping victims of terrorism, the news agency ČTK reported on Monday. The council will also discuss drills related to terrorist threats. The meeting will be attended by President Václav Klaus in his role as the supreme commander of the Czech Armed Forces. The country’s security council last met two months ago when it discussed funding for the army at a time of government spending cuts.
Most Czechs are content with the services provided by their mobile phone operator, according to a survey by the marketing firm GfK Czech released on Monday. Nearly 70 percent of those polled expressed “general satisfaction” with their current operators; the same number of respondents said they would consider switching to a new operator if it were to offer much cheaper rates. The Czech telecommunications authority has launched an auction of frequencies which could result in the arrival of a fourth mobile phone operator at the Czech market, currently dominated by Vodafone, T-Mobile and Telefonica O2.