Work pressure, job uncertainty and financial problems are believed to be behind the growing number of suicides in the Czech Republic. According to the National Health Institute 1600 people took their own lives last year as compared to 1375 in 2007. The number of people getting treatment for depression is also on the rise. Psychiatrists report over 100,000 patients last year and say the number of people suffering from depression without getting treatment is likely to be six times higher. The number of depressions and suicides has always hit a peak at tumultuous times in the country’s history such as 1934 when the country was hit by an economic crisis or after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.
The 16th Forum 2000 – the first to be held since ex-president Vaclav Havel’s death – will be attended among others by former US secretary of State Madelaine Albright, the head of the Tibetan government in exile Lobsang Sangay and Serbian Deputy PM for EU affairs Suzana Grubjesic. According to the Forum 2000 website this year’s debate will focus on media and democracy, a topic proposed by the late Vaclav Havel at the close of the previous conference a year ago. Forum 2000 was established by Vaclav Havel as a meeting of minds on the issues of the present day. The conference is scheduled to start on October 21st.
Nineteen football fans have been charged with disorderly conduct after starting a fight near Prague’s Skalka metro station ahead of Monday’s game between Sparta Slavia and Baník Ostrava. Police say they are still analyzing material from security cameras in the vicinity and are not ruling out further charges. The fight was allegedly planned in advance but the police managed to separate the groups and prevent serious injuries.
A stamp honoring Prague´s Postal Museum has won the prestigious Grand Prix competition for the world´s most beautiful postage stamp at the WIPA world exhibition in Vienna, Czech Post said on Tuesday. The stamp depicts an old postage emblem surrounded by a map and mail carriers of olden times. Stamps from Liechtenstein and Slovakia came second and third.
The legendary Czech hockey goalkeeper Dominik Hašek has announced his retirement. In an interview for the Czech daily Sport, the 47-year-old “Dominator” said he had been preparing for another season in the NHL but received no offers from any of the clubs. The 1998 Olympic champion and two-time Stanley Cup winner, who won six Vezina Trophies for best goaltender in the NHL said he had received some offers to play in Europe, but had decided to end his career.
The police have arrested Marek Dalík, a former close aide to then prime
minister Mirek Topolánek, in connection with alleged corruption in the
2009 purchase of Pandur armoured vehicles for the Czech military.
Prosecutor Lenka Bradáčová said on Monday Mr Dalík, who is the only
person detained so far, had been charged with attempted fraud.
The Czech government paid 14.4 billion crowns, or some 750 million US dollars, for 107 Austrian-made Pandur armoured personnel carriers; the deal has come under criticism as overpriced. Last year, a manager of the Austrian arms producer Steyr accused Mr Dalík of demanding an 18-million-euro bribe. The case has been under investigation by Czech and Austrian police since 2010.
Methanol-laced bootleg liquor has claimed its 28th victim. An autopsy confirmed on Monday that a 60 -year-old man, who died in his home near Uherské Hradiště in south-eastern Moravia last week, was killed by methanol. A police spokeswoman said a bottle of spirits was found in the man’s house but the police had not yet traced its source.
In related news, a government committee dealing with the crisis has called for the introduction of a general ban on spirit sales at streets stands. Speaking after the committee’s session on Monday, Health Minister Leoš Heger said the government would also consider introducing harsher fines for selling alcohol to minors as well as for counterfeiting excise stamps. Under the tougher rules, proprietors who breach the regulations could lose their licences. The committee has also called on spirits retailers not to dispose of alcohol without certified origin and wait until further instructions from the customs.
Czech Health Minister Leoš Heger on Monday dismissed the country’s chief hygiene officer, Michael Vít, who has since March been on an unpaid leave due to corruption charges. The police accused Mr Vít with abuse of power over his role in an overpriced IT tender. Minister Heger said he would propose the government to appoint the head of the Liberec region’s hygiene service, Vladimír Valenta the new chief hygiene officer. The absence of a chief hygiene officer during the recent methanol crisis was criticized by the opposition.
Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg has expressed appreciation of post-election developments in Georgia. Speaking after a meeting with his Georgian counterpart, Grigol Vashadze in Prague on Sunday, Mr Schwarzenberg welcomed the smooth transfer of power which matched the highest international democratic standards. Georgia is the only country in the region where the government was changed through democratic elections without manipulations, which is something the country needs to be congratulated for, Mr Schwarzenberg added. For his part, the Georgian foreign minister expressed gratitude that the Czech Republic’s continued support for his country’s Euro-Atlantic orientation.