The number of new cases of HIV registered in the Czech Republic this year is, at 198, the highest since records began following the discovery of AIDS in the mid 1980s. A doctor who works with HIV patients said that the number of fresh cases was on the rise because fear of contracting it had subsided and people were having more unprotected sex. Three in five of those identified as being HIV positive in 2012 had engaged in gay sex.
Three aspirants to the post of president who the Interior Ministry has barred from standing because the petitions they filed did not contain enough valid signatures – Tomio Okamura, Vladimír Dlouhý and Jana Bobošíková – have appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court. Wednesday afternoon was the deadline for such submissions. There have been disagreements over the kind of sample method used by the Interior Ministry to calculate the number of invalid signatures.
The leading Czech film critic Eva Zaoralová was on Wednesday – her 80th birthday – named a member of France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, officer category, and received a medal from France’s ambassador to the Czech Republic. Dr. Zaoralová is perhaps best known for her work with the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, of which she was artistic director for several years. She is now the festival’s artistic adviser.
A footbridge by the train station in Plzeň has been named after Ivan Martin Jirous, a Czech poet and key underground figure who died last year. The honour was the initiative of three civic groups in the West Bohemian city. It will actually be named the Ivan Magor Jirous Bridge, in reference to the late writer and hell raiser’s nickname (Magor means madman).
The former Czech soccer international Tomáš Řepka has been released by České Budějovice. His contract was due to run until the summer but the club reached agreement with the combative defender on terminating his contract at the end of next month. After being sent off in a game against Jablonec last month, Řepka was dropped from the first team squad and began training on his own. The defender, who is 38, has previously played for Fiorentina, West Ham and Sparta Prague.
The Constitutional Court has invalidated several articles from the government’s health and social reform laws which were part of a package of laws contested by the opposition. Chief Justice Pavel Rychetský said the articles in question, such as that introducing compulsory community service for the jobless, were unconstitutional, but he upheld the validity of the laws as a whole. The opposition filed a complaint against 14 health, social and pension reform laws on the grounds that they were not properly debated and that opponents of the bills were restricted in their right to address Parliament in the matter. The ruling is seen as a partial victory for the opposition which had been hoping to see the entire package of reform bills invalidated.
The head of the opposition Social Democrats Bohuslav Sobotka has said the changes on the board of VZP, the country’s largest health insurance company, were merely a redistribution of power between the two senior parties in government and would do nothing to resolve the growing problems in the health sector. Mr. Sobotka also criticized the fact that one of the members of the board of VZP owns a private hospital. The head of the VZP insurance company, Pavel Horák, and the head of the firm’s administrative board, Marek Šnajdr, stepped down on Monday in the face of mounting criticism from the Health Ministry over poor management.
The Czech anti-monopoly office has moved to cancel a tender announced by the Czech National Museum for the reconstruction of its new headquarters, the building that formerly housed the Czechoslovak federal parliament at the upper end of Wenceslas Square. The anti-monopoly office said it has found serious errors in the 100-million-crown tender which would need to be corrected. The museum has not appealed the decision.
A Prague state attorney has filed charges of slander and abuse of office against the former police president Petr Lessy. The move comes on the basis of a criminal complaint from the General Inspectorate of the Security Forces. The libel charge is connected to statements Mr Lessy made in the press over half a year ago when he insinuated that a subordinate officer had swept criminal investigations under the rug. Mr. Lessy has dismissed the charges as a pack of lies constructed to remove him from office. Under Czech law the police president cannot be dismissed unless he is suspected of having committed a crime. If convicted of the charges Petr Lessy could face up to three years in jail.