The Communist Party will recommend that their supporters vote for one of two left-wing politicians standing for the post of president. Both Social Democrat MP Jiří Dienstbier and Miloš Zeman, a former Social Democrat prime minister, asked the Communists to give them their backing. But after a meeting on Saturday the Communists, who are not fielding a candidate of their own, said they hoped their voters would support one or other of the two. Party leader Vojtěch Filip said that while Mr. Zeman was more experienced and a better speaker, Mr. Dienstbier was stronger in the field of foreign policy.
Police wiretaps of MP David Rath and others implicating them in corruption are admissible as evidence in court, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Saturday. Mr. Rath, who was also governor of the Central Bohemia Region at the time of his arrest in May, and his co-accused contested the validity of the recordings at the Constitutional Court, which rejected their appeal, the newspaper wrote. The former health minister and two associates have been charged with corruption involving millions of crowns and are expected to appear in court in the New Year.
A retrospective of films by the two-time Oscar-winning Czech director Miloš Forman got underway at Prague’s Municipal Library on Friday night. The opening film was Ragtime (1981), which has never received cinema distribution in Czechoslovakia or the Czech Republic. Among those present was the cinematographer Miroslav Ondříček, who has worked closely with Forman over the years. The director, who turned 80 this year, will in February receive the Directors Guild of America's lifetime achievement award for distinguished achievement in motion picture direction.
Mr. Klaus, who steps down as president after two terms in March, also slammed the introduction of a direct presidential vote as populist nonsense that would come back to haunt its backers. It was a mistake to think the public would choose his successor, he said, it was actually the media who would select the president and the public would merely ratify their choice in two rounds of voting set to take place on the second and third weekends of January. The president said the big parties were already aware that they had scored an own goal by supporting a direct vote, a change which had been discussed for many years before being approved by Parliament in the summer.
Three people who committed suicide together at Roblín near Prague at the end of November met on the internet. Police were baffled when two men, of 39 and 27, and a woman of 37 from different corners of the Czech Republic were found dead in a car in the town. A police spokesperson said on Saturday that it had been ascertained that the three had met on an internet chat site; they had all been depressed for some time and agreed that while they did not want to go on living they could not face committing suicide on their own.
The Czech president, Václav Klaus, has questioned the wisdom of the mooted appointment of Karolina Peake to the post of defence minister. Mr. Klaus said on Friday that he did not believe that burly soldiers would not accept such a “little girl” (“dívenka”) as head of the army, or that the leader of the coalition’s smallest party LIDEM could become an expert on the army overnight. Mrs. Peake said she would try to persuade the president that she wasn’t a fragile little girl, adding that ministries were usually headed by politicians, not always experts in the given field. Prime Minister Petr Nečas has said he will announce the names of new defence and transport ministers next week.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has announced significant concessions to the government’s S-card system streamlining social and welfare benefit payments that is to come into effect in January next year. In line with a fresh agreement reached with Ceska Sporitelna and the Czech Postal Service S-Cards will not be mandatory for payments and will only serve for identification purposes. Under the proposed amendment, people will be free to decide whether they want their benefits sent to the S-card account, a different account or by post.The only exemption concerns those suspected of exploiting the welfare benefits system.
A gorilla named Kamba, who resides at the Prague zoo, is due to give birth in January, but already a month before sixty people are ready to step in at any moment, to help the mother who most likely is also suffering from a heart condition. Because of her condition, the birth may be tricky and dangerous, so the zoo’s veterinarian has a list of in-house and external specialists who are on call and would be able to help with the delivery. Another gorilla in the zoo named Kyjiva will also give birth around the same time, but the staff do not expect complications in this case.
The Czech GDP fell by 0.3 percent in the third quarter of this year, and by 1.3 percent year-on-year, the Czech Statistical Office confirmed on Friday. This means the Czech economy has been in recession since the end of last year, which some analysts say equates them to the most indebted south European countries like Greece and Spain.
The Chamber of Deputies has approved a bill on Friday that legalizes the use of marijuana to alleviate some medical conditions. Patients will be able to purchase marijuana only with an electronic prescription from a doctor. The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate and signed by the president to come into effect.
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