Smaller towns and villages are beginning to suffer a lack of medical and dental services, the Union of Towns and Associations has confirmed. The union is to begin talks with regional authorities as well as insurance companies to try and improve the situation. Representatives of villages and small towns in the region of Karlovy Vary, meeting on Wednesday, confirmed that action needed to be taken, for example offering health care workers already well-equipped facilities as an incentive. The number of GPs and dentists has dropped in part due to retirement age as well as a lower number of graduates entering the field.
Police have sifted through some 300 tonnes of garbage at a waste site in the area of Jihlava since Tuesday evening, idnes and Tn.cz report, speculating that officials may have found the body of a 15-year-old girl missing in the area since mid-March. According to sources, she was last seen leaving a local discotheque with another individual. Both idnes and Tn.cz report that police had uncovered key evidence in the case and were holding a suspect who has allegedly already confessed to the girl’s murder.
Česká mincovna, a partner of the Czech national bank, has begun manufacturing a one kilogram gold medal featuring 19th century writer Božena Němcová, news website idnes reports. According to idnes, the medal will sell for almost 1.5 million crowns. The author of the design featuring Božena Němcová is the late Oldřich Kulhánek. Mr Kulhánek was best-known for designing the Czech Republic’s banknotes, still in use. The commercial mint is calling the release a tribute to the artist who died unexpectedly in January at the age of 72.
Prague’s transit authority has announced that part of a tram route on Prague’s busy Milada Horáková Street in Prague 6 will be halted for a period of three months, due to renovation and construction work on both the route and the city’s Blanka Tunnel. Trams will be rerouted along several stops across from Prague Castle, beginning on March 31. The rerouting is relatively minor in comparison to a major section of the same road being closed off for several months in Prague 7 last year, which led to marked traffic delays on Letná plain.
Tomáš Berdych has advanced to the quarter-finals of the Miami Masters in Florida. The Czech men’s tennis number one easily overcame Sam Querrey of the United States 6-1 6-1 in just 51 minutes, a contrast with his previous outing when it took him two and a half hours to overcome Colombia’s Alejandro Falla. Berdych will now face Richard Gasquet of France for a place in the semi-finals.
Police have filed a charge of breach of trust against 10 of a total of 11 Prague councillors in connection with the Opencard, a card-based electronic system used for public transport and other services. Among the 10 is the mayor of the city, Bohuslav Svoboda of the Civic Democrats. Officers delivered the indictment to a meeting of the council on Tuesday morning. The charge concerns the awarding of a contract to operate the system to the company Haguess, the only name considered in a closed tender process. The controversial Opencard system was previously found to have been massively overpriced.
Reacting to the indictments at City Hall, the leadership of TOP 09 described the move as an incomprehensible criminalisation of political decision-making. The party said it guaranteed the integrity of its members, adding that the current council had been attempting to rectify the extensive corruption committed by the previous city government. A councillor from TOP 09, which is in coalition in Prague with the Civic Democrats, said Haguess was the only company capable of operating the system. Meanwhile, some opposition Social Democrats have called on Mayor Svoboda to step down.
President Miloš Zeman has announced the names of four lawyers he plans to nominate to the Constitutional Court. Speaking on a visit to the country’s highest court in Brno on Tuesday, Mr. Zeman said he would ask the Senate to approve the candidates Milada Tomková, who is a judge at the Supreme Administrative Court, and law professors Jaroslav Fenyk, Vladimír Sládeček and Jan Filip. The president said he had discussed the names with the chief justice, Pavel Rychetský. He also said he wished to see next parliamentary elections take place on the same day as elections to the European Parliament in May next year.
An agreement has been signed in Prague on the creation of a new Václav Havel Human Rights Prize. Jointly created by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, the Václav Havel Library and the Charter 77 Foundation, the award will be presented every October to a group or individual that has been strongly engaged in the defence of human rights. Václav Havel, who died in 2011, led Czechoslovakia’s peaceful Velvet Revolution and was an active defender of freedoms in many parts of the world.
The governing Civic Democrats have unveiled “Agenda 2014”, a policy document outlining their priorities for the period between now and the end of the coalition’s term of office. The measures include tax reliefs for employers, support for small businesses and a reduction in bureaucracy. Recent opinion polls indicate that support for the Civic Democrats stands at between 9 and 15 percent. Parliamentary elections are expected in June next year, while 2014 will also see European, Senate and local elections in the Czech Republic.