Customs officials at Prague’s Vaclav Havel Airport recently seized almost 200,000 fake erectile dysfunction pills, Customs Administration spokeswoman Sarka Miskovska told the CTK news agency. A total of 194,300 counterfeit Viagra and Cialis pills were seized with an estimated street value of 87 million crowns. They reportedly arrived in two shipments from an unspecified country in southern Asia. It is not clear whether the pills were meant for the Czech Republic or another country.
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 controversial political “lobbyist” Miroslav Šlouf who co-founded the Citizens’ Rights Party–Zemanites’ has announced he is leaving the party and will not support it in the upcoming general elections. Mr. Šlouf told the daily Pravo he feels hard done by over the way he was scratched off the party’s Prague ballot and by the attitude of several leading party members. One-time chief political advisor to President Miloš Zeman, Miroslav Šlouf is a highly controversial figure – a former communist believed to have enormous influence and connections to the underworld who has been linked to many political scandals and shady deals. Although he is credited with Mr. Zeman’s election victory, the president has publicly distanced himself from his former advisor and the party he co-founded now sees him as a liability.
Confidence in the Czech economy has risen in September, for the second month in a row. The overall confidence index grew in September by 3.2 points compared to the previous month, and reached plus 1.2 points, according to figures released by the Czech Statistics Office on Tuesday. Compared to the same month last year, the index grew by 5 points. Business confidence is up in all sectors of the economy; consumer confidence, meanwhile, has grown by 15.5 points but remains in the red at minus 14.3 points.
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.
Most Czechs – some 80 percent – believe the introduction of a direct vote for the president was a good move, according to a new survey by the STEM agency released on Monday. Among those who support the change are mostly left-leaning voters. Another 90 percent of people who took part in the survey said the president should be strictly non-partisan. After years of debates, direct presidential vote was introduced last year; in January, Miloš Zeman became the historically first directly elected Czech president.
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.
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.
In an interview for the daily Financial Times, President Miloš Zeman said that he would not support a government coalition which would comprise of parties from different sides of the political spectrum. Mr. Zeman himself was the chairman of a minority left-wing government between 1998 and 2002, which was supported by the right-of-center Civic Democratic party based on a so-called opposition agreement. In the FT interview published on Sunday, the Czech president underscored his support for EU integration but criticized the bloc’s attempts to micromanage issues such as smoking and energy-saving light bulbs.
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.