Andrej Babiš, the head of the ANO movement that may enter a new coalition government with the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats, said on Wednesday it is not a necessity for him to join the cabinet and that he would not apply for a screening certificate which President Miloš Zeman set as a condition for ministerial candidates. Mr Babiš told journalists that he wants to wait until a Slovak court decides on his exoneration claim in January. The Czechoslovak Communist secret police (the StB) kept a file on Mr Babiš, who they listed as a collaborator. Babiś, born and raised in Slovakia, has denied ever being an StB agent.
The interim government of Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok has agreed on a proposal lowering the cost of hospital stays by 40 crowns per day. Currently, patients are charged 100 crowns daily. Under the proposal, youths under the age of 18 would no longer be required to pay at all. The prime minister urged Parliament to pass the amendment quickly or risk hospital stay fees being discontinued completely on January 1, 2014 per a decision by the Constitutional Court. A lowering of the fees to 60, if passed, would see revenues amassed under the system drop by as much as 1 billion crowns from the current 2.1 billion.
The Czech Republic will send 50 million crowns to aid countries which have seen a massive influx of refugees from Syria, including Bulgaria and Turkey, the Rusnok cabinet agreed on Wednesday. The funds are to be covered by the Interior Ministry. Outgoing Interior Minister Martin Pecina is currently in Turkey and met with his counterpart, presenting him with a cheque for half-a-million euros (roughly 12.9 million crowns) to go towards humanitarian aid. Turkey has around 600,000 Syrian refugees. Earlier, the Czech foreign ministry provided 22 million crowns. Twelve Syrian patients have also received medical treatment in the Czech Republic.
Former Czech president Václav Klaus has admitted in an interview for the student news site iList (run by students from Prague’s University of Economics) that he didn’t know support which he expressed for the right-wing bloc Hlava Vzhůru! (Heads Up!) led by fellow euro sceptic Jana Bobošíková would translate in his photo being used on billboards in the recent elections. The bloc suffered a debacle when Czechs went to the polls at the end of October, receiving only 0.4 percent of the vote – far below the five percent needed to make it into the lower house of Parliament. In the interview, Mr Klaus maintained that critical views of the EU such as Bobošíková’s were needed and admitted that he himself had considered trying to either rebuild the Civic Democratic Party or form a new group, but had gauged there was too little time ahead of the elections to launch a proper platform and campaign.
The police have charged a 31-year-old suspect with the murders of a 17-year-old girl and her grandfather in the village of Raškovice in south Moravia on Tuesday. Both were shot and killed when he attacked them at their home; the man’s wife was hurt and is in serious condition. The man, who had no previous charges, was reportedly the girl’s teacher. An additional six weapons were found at the suspect’s home, as well as 6,000 rounds of ammunition. If he is found guilty he could face an exemplary sentence of 20 years in prison.
Police in the region of Vysočina have charged two people with the promotion of using illegal substances, part of a broader raid at grow shops, selling equipment which can be used for the growing of marijuana. In the Vysočina region, officers conducted checks at two brick-and-mortar stores and investigated three online shops, all in - or with headquarters in - Jihlava and the area of Žďár. Materials worth an estimated one million crowns were seized. The police have not released additional details.
An expert team from Olomouc’s Palácký University’s Faculty of Science discovered an unknown plant species in Borneo, university representatives have revealed. The plant, which researchers had named Thismia hexagona, was found by accident, after a student member of the team lost his footing on wet ground. Martin Dančák of the university’s Department of Ecology & Environmental Sciences described the appearance of the plant as “very bizarre at first sight” – not green, a seemingly leafless stalk leading most often with a single bloom and little tentacles. Thismia hexagona ranks among mycoheterotrophic plants, i.e. non-green plants without Chlorophyll. Unlike most such plants, he said, it was not parasitic.
Czechs recycle only a third of the batteries they use, according to a study conducted for the non-profit group ECOBAT. Half of those surveyed said they had never recycled a battery. Almost 120 million new batteries are sold in the country every year, with over a thousand tonnes of batteries ending up in dustbins annually.
Viktoria Plzeň lost 1:0 to title holders Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday night. Plzeň had been beaten 5:0 by the Germans two weeks ago but this time put in a much stronger performance, with goalkeeper Matúš Kozáčik coming in for particular praise. The West Bohemians lie at the bottom of their group with zero points in four games.