The TOP 09 minister of culture, Alena Hanáková, is to be replaced by Jiří Hlaváč, a former deacon of the Faculty of Music and Dance at Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts, the new website iDnes.cz reported on Tuesday, referring to a government source. There has been speculation for some time about the future of the minister, who has been criticised by some in the arts world.
The minister of health, Leoš Heger, says his officials will carry out free tests of water in wells in areas that have been affected by flooding. Mr. Heger told Czech Radio that the Ministry of Health was earmarking millions of crowns for analyses of water quality. People have been told to pump out all remaining water and remove mud before having their wells tested. Almost 3,000 wells were inundated during the recent flooding.
The creator of the country’s annual film industry awards ceremony, Petr Vachler, says he will not hand the rights to the Czech Lions to the Czech Film and Television Academy. Mr. Vachler said the CZK 10 million that the Academy had offered to pay him for the rights over a period of a decade was insufficient. He said he was not fixated on retaining control of the brand and was chiefly concerned with the Czech Lions continuing, adding that he hoped to reach a compromise on the matter.
The prime minister, Petr Nečas, has announced that he is getting divorced from his wife Radka. In a statement, he said that he and his wife had applied to a court to have their marriage dissolved. Mr. Nečas revealed in January that he and his wife, with whom he has four children, were no longer living together.
Author Marie Kubátová has died at the age of 90. The writer, famous for the Krkonošské Fairytales animated children’s series, passed away last week, the news website iDnes.cz reported. Born in Prague, Kubátová – who was a pharmacist by profession – collected stories from the Krkonošské Mountains with her mother, who was also a writer.
The state-owned power utility CEZ is to waive three monthly bills for households hit by over half a metre of flooding, its director, Daniel Beneš, said on Tuesday. Homes where flood waters were less than half a metre will not be charged for one month’s power, he said. The prime minister, Petr Nečas, described the gesture as a sign of social responsibility and called on other power suppliers to make a similar gesture.
The minister of justice, Pavel Blažek, has described some criminal proceedings carried out by the police’s anti-corruption unit as “theatrical”. In a letter to the head of the force, Martin Červíček, quoted by the Czech News Agency, the minister also criticised what he called the “personal media promotion” of senior police officials. The letter was sent in April during a dispute between the Prague supreme state attorney, Lenka Bradáčová, and the then head of the anti-corruption unit, Tomáš Martinec; she had requested that Colonel Červíček evaluate the work of the unit. The police president has refused to comment on the letter.
Flood-relate damages to the agriculture sector are estimated to be at least 1.8 billion crowns, according to the Czech Agrarian Chamber. The overall figure could be much higher since the estimate does not include losses to the fishing industry. In 2002, farmers around the Czech Republic suffered damages of more than 3.5 billion crowns. Some 55 thousand hectares of land were flooded in the past week, which most of all affecting vegetable growers. Many farmers were getting ready to harvest many of their crops, which are now effectively destroyed. This will most likely cause prices of local produce to rise this year.
As water recedes in most places that were flooded during the past week, volunteers are beginning to help with the clean-up efforts. A number of humanitarian NGOs are coordinating hundreds of volunteers who are helping clean up homes and public spaces that were damaged by water. People are also making donations to special emergency drives that the organizations have set up to aid with the relief efforts and help those affected. Charities and NGOs have so far collected at least 25 million crowns.
President Miloš Zeman met with the chairwoman of the European Trade Union Confederation Bernadette Ségol on Monday and voiced his support for the confederation’s proposal for a single EU-wide corporate tax of 25 percent. Prime Minister Petr Nečas strongly disagreed with the president’s position and said that his government is against the harmonization of direct taxation. President Zeman also agreed with the trade union confederation on progressive taxation, and the need to increase investment that could create jobs as well as the introduction of a guaranteed minimum wage across the European Union countries.
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