The Czech ombudsman Pavel Varvařovský is planning to lodge a legal complaint against the system of checks for the unemployed called DONEZ, which will come into effect starting January. DONEZ requires people registered as unemployed to appear at public administration centers a few times a week. The measure is meant to prevent people who receive unemployment benefits from working illegally. Mr Varvařovský believes this constitutes an excessive encroachment on human dignity.
The Czech Meteorological Institute has issued low temperature warnings for nine regions, mostly in the east of the country, for the whole of the upcoming weekend. In some mountainous areas, temperatures are expected to dip as low as -17 degrees Celsius during the nights. Day temperatures may be around -10 degrees in some parts of the country. Extreme temperatures should become more moderate by Monday morning.
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.
Viktoria Plzeň finished top of their group in the Europa League after beating defending champions Atletico Madrid 1:0 at home on Thursday night, thanks to a goal from Václav Procházka. Plzeň had already qualified for the knockout stage of Europe’s second-tier competition prior to their final group stage game. The same applied to Sparta Prague, who drew 0:0 away with Athletic Bilbao. The pair’s success means it will be the first time two Czech clubs have still been in European competition in the New Year since 2004.
Parliament’s Commission for European Affairs has asked the government to vote against a proposal by Brussels to impose a 40 per cent female quota on listed company boards across the EU. Opposition to the proposal was spearheaded by Public Affairs. The commission concluded that introducing quotas for companies should be a last-ditch measure that should be decided by individual member states. MP Viktor Paggio from Public Affairs described the proposal as an ill-conceived attempt at social engineering that would inevitably backfire. The EC defended the proposal on the grounds that all its previous attempts to address a severe gender imbalance across the 27-country bloc by attempting to reach voluntary agreements with companies had failed.
The Senate has called on President Vaclav Klaus to sign the addendum to the Lisbon Treaty relating to the creation of a European Stability Mechanism. The addendum to the treaty which was agreed on at an EU summit last December has been ratified by both chambers of Parliament but still lacks the president’s signature making the Czech Republic the last EU member state which has yet to complete the ratification process. The Senate has called on the president to sign the addendum without further delay, noting that failure to comply with Parliament’s decision in this matter would be in violation of the constitution. The country’s Eurosceptic president postponed putting his signature to the Lisbon Treaty for as long as possible, signing it only after the EU nodded to his demand for a Czech opt-out from the treaty’s Chapter of Fundamental Rights.
The Senate on Thursday also extensively criticized the newly-introduced electronic S-cards via which the state wants to pay out welfare benefits as unethical and unconstitutional. The Senate’s Committee for Social Affairs is to debate a proposal for their abolition tabled by the Social Democratic Party. The new S-card system has evoked enormous controversy, with critics pointing out that pensioners living in small villages may have problems getting to a money machine and would inevitably lose money on the transaction from their already meagre pensions. Senators moreover point out that people will be forced to have an account at Česká Sporitelna, selected by the government to run the operation, even if they already have an account elsewhere.
The anti-corruption police have proposed filing charges against 17 members of the Prague branch of the Social Democratic Party. The suspects are believed to have paid people to enter the party and vote according to their directions. This was done to influence voting in compiling the list of candidates in the 2010 general elections and elections to the Prague City Council. Two men are suspected of offering bribes, 15 of taking them.
Thousands of people who were forced to work as virtual slaves in a Czechoslovak army unit in the 1950s could receive compensation, the news website iDnes reported. Men sent to the Auxiliary Technical Battalions would get a one-off payment of CZK 1,800 for every month of what was practically imprisonment, under an Interior Ministry proposal to place them in the same category as “class enemies” jailed by the Communist regime. The latter have already received similar compensation and the move comes in response to a court case in September in which a former “member” of the Auxiliary Technical Battalions won compensation. The proposal is set to go before the government.
The Czech health ministry has warned of the danger of more methanol poisonings over the Christmas holidays. According to police estimates there could still be up to 5,000 litres of uncertified, potentially dangerous alcohol in small stores and households. In the course of the past three months 38 people have died of methanol poisonings from bootleg liquor and three are currently in hospital in serious condition. Spirits have been banned from Christmas markets around the country.