The chief-of-staff to former PM Petr Nečas Jana Nagyová on Tuesday refused a police interrogation on health grounds. Mrs Nagyová is charged with abuse of office for having secretly commissioned the country’s military intelligence service to shadow the former PM’s wife and soliciting bribes to three Civic Democrat MPs. The scandal brought down the centre right government in June, triggering early elections, and badly damaged the credibility of the Civic Democratic Party. The former prime minister resigned from all posts and last weekend married his one-time chief-of-staff. The case is expected to come to court in the autumn.
The Czech Republic has started operating an emergency help line for missing children. The helpline, which is already in operation in 22 EU member states, offers advice and emotional support to the parents of a missing child as well as to children themselves. Helpline staff will also cooperate with the police in order to assist investigations. Last year the police searched for over 5,500 missing children and were successful in 98 percent of cases. The launch of the helpline coincides with a two-day international conference on missing children in Solenice, central Bohemia.
Life expectancy for both men and women differs significantly in different regions of the Czech Republic, the Czech statistics Office reports. In Prague the life expectancy for women is 82 years and 77 for men, while in the Usti region, in north Bohemia, the figures are 79 years for women and 73 for men. Life expectancy is highest in Prague and lowest in the Usti, Karlovy Vary and Moravia-Silesia regions. The national average life expectancy is 75 years for men and 81 for women.
Unemployment among university graduates is a growing problem. According to labour office statistics 32,000 university graduates are unemployed, some having failed to find work for several years. The results of a survey among university students conducted by Student Media suggest that fear of unemployment is high, with only 12 percent of students confident of their ability to find work. Forty percent of respondents said they were seriously considering applying for work abroad on graduation.
The Ombudsman’s Office has said it is unacceptable for kindergartens to force children to take an afternoon nap. The office dealt with the issue on the grounds of a complaint from a parent who protested against the lack of flexibility on the part of kindergarten teachers in meeting children’s individual needs. Afternoon naps are a daily ritual in most pre-school facilities. The office said parents who had a problem with this could turn to the School Inspectorate.
A court in Prague on Monday began hearing the case of the overpriced Opencard smart card system. Five former Prague City Hall officials are charged with infringement of competition regulations and breach of trust in the case; they stand accused of having caused tens of millions of crowns in damages by awarding disadvantageous contracts to the anonymously owned firm Haguess. The city has asked for 70 million crowns in damages. One of the accused is the former head of the IT department, Ivan Seyček, who is facing up to eight years in jail. The police are investigating dozens of other city hall officials in connection with the Opencard scandal which took place under the then mayor Pavel Bém.
The Czech Television and Film Academy on Monday chose the drama Burning Bush as its candidate for nominations for the US Academy Awards for best foreign film. The movie, produced by HBO and directed by Agnieszka Holland, focuses on the story of Jan Palach, a student who set himself on fire in 1969 in protest of the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. The last Czech movie which won the Oscar was Kolya in 1997.
Every third Czech doctor suffers from burnout syndrome, the news website idnes.cz reported on Monday quoting a new survey by the Czech Medical Chamber and Charles University. Some 15,000 physicians took part in the study which revealed that many of them felt tired and frustrated and were cynical about their patients. The authors of the survey, the first of its kind to be conducted in the Czech Republic, said doctors with burnout syndrome were less efficient and incurred higher costs to health insurers. The Czech authorities have so far failed to address the issue.
Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok has congratulated German Chancellor Angela Merkel on her victory in the general elections. Ms Merkel’s party, the CDU/CSU bloc, won over 40 percent of the vote. The Czech prime minister said the result was extraordinary, adding that he expected no change to the good relations between the Czech Republic and Germany. For his part, the eurosceptic former Czech president Václav Klaus said the elections showed that Germany, as well as the EU and the Czech Republic, had no alternative.
The first team of the Czech top division club Slavia Prague was attacked by its fans on Saturday upon their return from an away game on Sunday. Slavia lost 2:1 in Jablonec, the latest in a string of poor results and the first game under a new manager. The masked attackers were waiting for the team bus in Prague; they hurled rocks and bottles at players emerging from the team bus. The police arrested five people after the incident.
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