A new government analysis has criticised the Czech state’s efforts to combat the illegal market in alcohol in the last two years. The report – due to be discussed by the cabinet on Wednesday – says that state bodies failed to carry out controls or to prosecute criminal activity sufficiently. Moreover, there was poor communication between the various agencies responsible. In September, the government banned the sale of all spirits for nearly two weeks after a series of deaths related to drinking bootleg liquor containing methanol; to date thirty-three people have died and several more have suffered permanent damage to their health.
Ludmila Müllerová of the TOP 09 party will be named Czech minister of labour and social affairs on Friday, Prime Minister Petr Nečas told reporters on Tuesday. She will replace her party colleague Jaromír Drábek, who stepped down in September after his deputy minister, who was a close associate, was charged with corruption. Ms. Müllerová previously served as an advisor to Mr. Drábek. One issue facing the new minister will be how to proceed with a planned card system of receipt of social welfare payments, which has come in for much criticism.
A court in Ústí nad Labem has handed four people jail terms of five to nine and a half years for the trafficking of people to the United Kingdom. The court heard how a man and woman in the north Bohemian town enticed at least five people to the UK on the promise of work. The judge said they had then “literally sold” their victims to two others, who were convicted in absentia on Tuesday. The victims had most of their salaries for working in a bakery near Birmingham withheld, were forced to live in one room and received little food.
Vladislav Husák has been dismissed as head of the Czech police’s security service, a police representative said on Tuesday. Mr. Husák, who in the past served as president of the country’s police force, was removed because the validity of his security clearance had run out. He had applied for, but had not been granted, a new one. However, he will remain in a different position in the police presidium.
Diabetes is becoming increasingly common in the Czech Republic, with 68,000 new diagnoses of the disease recorded last year, Právo reported on Tuesday. A specialist told the newspaper that while in 1975 230,000 Czechs suffered from diabetes, last year the number had reached a record 825,000. Of that number around 55,000 have type 1 diabetes, which requires treatment with insulin. Právo said the treatment of diabetes in the Czech Republic cost close to CZK 25 billion a year.
Czechs spent CZK 7 billion crowns, or around $350 million, on books in 2011, according to a report by the country’s booksellers’ and publishers’ association released on Tuesday. In the first report of its kind, the association said the average price of books sold last year was CZK 240 crowns. Some 16,000 titles were published in the Czech Republic, which was around 7 percent less than previous year, and 15 percent less than in 2008, when a higher VAT rate for books was introduced. The report also says there are around 550 bookstores in the country and some 50 specialized booksellers. One of the specific features of the Czech market is the important role played by wholesalers that run their own retail and online bookstores.
The final two motor rallies of the season in the Czech Republic will not now be held, a spokesperson for the body that oversees rallies in the country said after a extraordinary meeting on Tuesday. The announcement comes in the wake of an accident during the amateur RallyShow Uherský Brod last weekend in which four spectators – the youngest of them six years of age – were killed when they were struck by a car.
The Czech Olympic javelin champion Barbora Špotáková has announced that she is taking a career break due to pregnancy. Špotáková, who is 31, said she would return to competition in time for the 2014 season. The popular athlete took gold at the last two Olympics and also hold’s the women’s world record in the javelin. At the weekend, she was named Czech Athlete of the Year for the sixth time in a row.
The latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, has become the biggest film in the series at the Czech box office. It has been seen by over 350,000 people in the country’s cinemas since it opened at the end of last month. The previous biggest Bond film at the country’s box office was 2006’s Casino Royale, which was seen by just over quarter of a million viewers. Last weekend over three times as many tickets were sold for Skyfall than for the second best-attended movie.
The Czech government’s austerity measures and budget cuts will not affect the country’s commitments towards NATO, Prime Minister Petr Nečas said. Speaking at a session of NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Prague on Monday, Mr Nečas said budget instability would be a greater threat to the Czech Republic’s defence abilities than the fact the country is not spending the required 2 percent of the GDP on defence. The prime minister also vowed that Czech defence spending will not decrease in the coming years. However, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned that the levels of defence expenditure by the alliance’s European member states were alarming.