The mayor of Kyjov, Frantíšek Lukl, 35, has accepted an offer by prime minister-designate Jiří Rusnok to become the new minister for regional development. In a press conference on Wednesday, Mr Lukl said he would look to continue preparations for the drawing of EU funds from 2014 – 2020. The official, a graduate from the Faculty of Law at Brno´s Masaryk University, has served as mayor since 2005. Jiří Rusnok’s caretaker government is to be appointed on July 10.
Fewer than 75,000 people signed up for a recently-introduced private
pension scheme, the so-called second pillar, ahead of a July 1 deadline
individuals over the age of 35. Pension funds originally expected half a
million people to join. The number of the clients is based on the data of
companies offering private pension schemes. Czech Pension Funds´
Association head Karel Svoboda said all pension funds would take care of
clients who joined the second pillar and none of the funds planned to end
activities. Mr Svoboda said it would be a major mistake to cancel
the second pillar without a real alternative.
Since January individuals have been able to redirect three percent from their social insurance payments to the pay-as-you-go state system to private funds if they add 2 percentage points from their own money. Outgoing Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas charged that many people were influenced by a statement of the opposition Social Democrats in which they promised to cancel the second pillar if they win the next elections.
Outgoing Culture Minister Alena Hanáková took a final decision on a building on Wenceslas Square and Opletalova Street slated for demolition, making clear it was not a heritage site and could be torn down to make room for a new one. The project faced opposition earlier from some experts and members of the public who took part in demonstrations. A commission spent several months looking into the matter. City Hall earlier gave the building’s owner, Flow East, the go-ahead to tear the building down. If the decision were reversed now, the firm indicated, it would have sought compensation in the millions of crowns.
Parts of the Czech Republic’s D1 highway will be closed off beginning on 8 PM Friday and lasting until 2 PM the next day. A section of the highway at Loket – Koberovice between the 66th to 81st kilometres will be closed, with detours in place, as well as the 153rd to 162nd kilometres near Velká Biteš. The sections of the highway will be closed to allow the demolition of six overpasses. Fourteen police units will oversee traffic in the Vysočina area where the demolitions are taking place. Friday marks the beginning of a long weekend in the Czech Republic; some motorists may opt to head to country homes or other destinations a day earlier.
Czech car owners will be able to order personalised license plates as of 2015, according to a proposal which passed easily in the upper house on Wednesday. There are a number of restrictions: for example, personalised plates must in no way be vulgar or include acronyms of existing bureaux. Personalised plates will cost 5,000 crowns. The president will still have to sign the bill for it to come into effect.
American actor F. Murray Abraham – best-known in the Czech Republic for his Oscar-winning performance as composer Antonio Salieri in Amadeus (Miloš Forman, 1984), will head to Karlovy Vary on Thursday for the 48th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. On Wednesday evening Mr Abraham is performing at the Prague Proms; organisers of both festivals were able to ensure he would attend Karlovy Vary as well. He and cinematographer Miroslav Ondřícek will present Czech costume designer Theodor Pištěk (who, like Mr Abraham, received an Oscar for Amadeus) with a Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema. F. Murray Abraham has starred in dozens of film productions throughout his career including Scarface and the sci-fi thriller Mimic. In 1990 he played the title role in a TV version of Václav Havel’s Largo Desolato.
Oscar-winning American filmmaker Oliver Stone arrived on Tuesday for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival underway since last week. Mr Stone, the director of acclaimed films like Wall Street and Platoon, is to receive a Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema. In addition to directing, Oliver Stone has written a number of acclaimed scripts including Midnight Express (for which he received his first Oscar) and True Romance (directed by the late Tony Scott).
The No. 7 seed, Tomáš Berdych, lost his quarter-final at Wimbledon on Wednesday against Novak Djokovic. He and the World No. 1 played a tight first set but the Czech player gave up a number of easy points and lost the tie-break to give the Serbian the set. In the second, Berdych broke Djokovic’s serve twice to take an early 3:0 lead, but the latter recovered and eventually won the second set as well. In the third, Djokovic dominated and gave his opponent few chances. The final score was 7:6, 6:4, 6:3. Berdych has now faced Novak Djokovic on 16 occasions – and won only twice.
Top Czech women’s tennis player Petra Kvitová was defeated in the quarter-finals at the Wimbledon Championships on Tuesday by Belgian player Kirsten Flipkens. Although she won the first set, Kvitová was handily beaten in the second and allowed Flipkens to serve for the match in the third after making a crucial mistake at 4:4. The final score was 6:4, 3:6, 4:6. Kvitová expressed deep disappointment afterwards in an interview for iDnes: she was the highest-seeded player left in her half of the field, and some had suggested she could go as far as the final, which she won in 2011. Flipkens, the 20th seed, will face Marion Bartoli in the semis.
The Constitution Court has struck down a number of measures from the recent health care and insurance reforms on Tuesday, including the division into standard and above-standard level of health care. The court ruled on a complaint submitted by 51 Social Democratic MPs challenging some elements of the outgoing government’s health insurance reform. The court ruled that providing options of standard and above-standard care by healthcare practitioners, as well as the raising the daily hospital stay fees from 60 to 100 crowns was not described in the law appropriately. The above-standard treatment program was introduced over a year ago, to allow patients to pay extra for treatment or materials which were more expensive than the standard of care. The program met with fairly little interest from the public.