Some 84 percent of Czech would like to decide on important local issues themselves rather than leave the decisions to elected politicians, according to a new poll by the CVVM agency released on Friday. Nearly 60 percent of people would also like to apply the same principle to issues of national importance. However, most of those polled said they would leave decisions concerning legislation and international treaties to politicians.
Top Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych will miss the Davis Cup quarterfinals against Kazachstan next weekend. The 28-year-old player, ranked sixth in the world, said he could not play due to a shoulder injury he suffered during his US tour. The defending champions Czech Republic will rely on Radek Štepánek, who returns after a two-month break caused by neck surgery, along with Lukáš Rosol, Jan Hájek and Ivo Minář.
In a breakthrough ruling, a court in Prague has ordered an insurance firm to pay clients the full price of a package tour cancelled because the travel agency had gone bankrupt, the daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Friday. Despite the fact the agency had been insured, the Generali insurance firm only paid the clients 58 percent of the price, arguing the travel agency had been “under-insured”. But the court ruled the clients were entitled to full reimbursement. A spokeswoman for the insurance company said the firm was going to appeal the verdict.
Four people have been arrested in connection with the case of a missing Czech businessman believed to have been abducted in southern France in March of this year. Interpol officers on the case say 72-year-old Tomas Vlach who travelled to France to close a real estate deal was most likely abducted by the Czech clients he was dealing with. One of the men arrested reportedly met Vlach at Nice Airport on March 7. His family last heard from him when he confirmed having arrived safely in France but he never made it to his hotel. Another missing Czech entrepreneur disappeared under similar circumstances in 2008 and there has been no trace of him since.
The Czech Helsinki Committee for Human Rights has criticized conditions for inmates in police custody. In a report released on Friday, the group says that inmates are forced to stay in small cells, do not have enough space for their daily open-air exercise, and cannot wash themselves frequently enough. The report notes the Czech prison system is underfinanced. In reaction, deputy justice minister Daniel Volák said the report was compiled before New Year’s presidential amnesty when prisons were overcrowded. Mr Volák said the situation has since improved.
28-year-old student Milan Bruncvík is set to become the first Czech to take part in the annual Oxford – Cambridge university boat race in the UK on Sunday, the news agency ČTK reported. Mr Bruncvík, who studies engineering at Cambridge University, is a former European rowing champion and competed at two Olympic Games. The oarsman said he was looking forward to the race which for him was a dream come true.
A woman was admitted to a Prague hospital with methanol poisoning on Friday, a spokesman for the facility said, the second such case registered in the Czech Republic this week. Some 40 people have died in the country since the outbreak of the methanol crisis last September. The police have meanwhile charged another five people for selling bootleg liquor on the black market. The country’s chief hygiene officer has again warned against drinking alcohol from unknown sources.
Czech spas will let go around 18 percent of their employees this year due to cuts to health care covering spa treatment, the Czech Association of Spa Resorts said on Friday. The Health Ministry believes the extent of insurance-covered spa treatment in the Czech Republic is excessive, and last year narrowed the number of diagnosis eligible for spa treatment, and also shortened the lengths of stays. This has lead to a 40- to 45-percent drop in the number of clients in the first two months of this year, the association said.
All presidential candidates filed their campaign accounts to the Czech Senate on Friday afternoon as required by law, the news agency ČTK reported. President Miloš Zeman was the last to file his documents which show his campaign owes three million crowns. His spokeswoman said all debts would be settled next week with contributions from his sponsors. Around six million is reportedly owed by another candidate, Jan Fischer. The deadline for filing the accounts expires on Saturday. The Senate’s mandate and immunity committee will have the accounts audited by a private firm; the candidates are also obliged by law to release the documents to the public.
The Czech Ministry of Transport on Friday asked drivers to keep winter tyres on their vehicles. Czech drivers are legally obliged to use winter tires until the end of March but the ministry said they should wait before replacing them with summer tyres as a spell of cold weather is expected in April.
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