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08-10-2014

President Zeman vetoes civil service bill

President Miloš Zeman has vetoed the civil service bill, a spokesman for the president’s office said. The legislation, which the government believes should depoliticize the country’s administration and introduce rules for appointing civil servants, was approved by the Czech Parliament earlier this month. However, Mr Zeman had earlier indicated he would veto the bill over the fact that it introduces politically appointed deputy ministers. Mr Zeman also argued the bill was approved in breach of the Czech Parliament’s rules of procedure. The president had warned he would take the issue to the Constitutional Court if his veto is overturned in a new lower house vote. e.

New regional development minister appointed

President Zeman on Wednesday appointed Karla Šlechtová the minister for regional development. Ms. Šlechtová, who was in charge of the department for drawing EU subsidies at the Office of the Government, was nominated by the ANO party. She succeeds the outgoing minister Věra Jourová who is set to become the EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality next month.

Unemployment decreases slightly to 7.3 percent

The national unemployment rate decreased in September to 7.3 percent, 0.1 percentage point lower than in the previous month, the Czech Labour Office said on Wednesday. Compared to the same month last year, the unemployment rate dropped by 0.3 percentage point. Some 530,000 people were seeking jobs in September which was 6,100 fewer than in August. The number of vacancies grew slightly to over 56,000. The Ústí region registered the highest unemployment level of 10.2 percent; the lowest rate – 5.2 percent – was recorded in Prague.

Pro-Ukrainian protest staged at government’s news conference

Two men staged a pro-Ukrainian protest during a news conference held by ministers of the Czech government on Wednesday. The men rose in their seats, stripped themselves to the waist baring slogans calling on the prime minister to adopt a tougher stance towards Russia. In a statement handed out to reporters, the protesters criticized the government’s alleged links with Czech machinery firms making deals with “Putin’s Russia”. The men were detained by security officers; a government’s spokesman said they had been accredited for the news conference as reporters of a student magazine. It’s unclear whether security at the seat of the government will be tightened in the wake of the incident, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said.

Lower house committee backs draft budget for 2015

The budget committee of the lower house on Wednesday voted to recommend the draft state budget be approved by MPs. The draft budget projects a deficit of 100 billion crowns which represents some 2.3 percent of gross domestic product. The committee’s members for the opposition voted against the recommendation, arguing the deficit should be cut by another 20 billion crowns and capital investment increased by eight billion. The lower house is set to start debating the draft budget by the end of October, with a final vote scheduled for December.

Survey: 65 percent of Czech 11-year-old tried alcohol

Over 65 percent of 11-year-old Czechs have tried alcohol, often with their parents’ knowledge, according to a survey funded by Czech spirits producers. The survey also found that 83 percent of minors aged between 11 and 15 have experienced alcohol. Sananim, a Czech NGO working with drug addicts which cooperated on the survey, blamed the wide-spread use of alcohol among Czech minors on the fact that adults tend to perceive alcohol as a symbol of success and power.

Government fails to take stand on gay adoptions

The Czech government on Wednesday failed to take a stand on draft legislation allowing registered partners to adopt children, deputy prime minister Pavel Bělobrádek said. The government’s legislative body initially suggested the bill, put forward by 25 MPs from several parties, be approved. However, the cabinet did not take a position on the legislation over opposition from Christian Democrat ministers who said no new bill was needed as adoptions by gay couples can be dealt with on the basis of existing law. In 2011, some 900 children lived in households of gay and lesbian couples, according to data from the official population census.

Czech author Jan Němec receives EU Prize for Literature

Czech writer Jan Němec is among 13 European authors who have won the EU Prize for Literature for 2014, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou said at the Frankfurt Book Fair on Wednesday. Mr Němec has been awarded for his novel A History of Light, a biographical piece about the Czech photographer František Drtikol. The prize is dedicated to new and emerging European authors. The 33-year-old Jan Němec is the second Czech writer who received the prize after Tomáš Zmeškal who was awarded in 2011.

Jiří David picked for Czecho-Slovak pavilion at Venice Biennale

Czech artist Jiří David has been selected to design the Czecho-Slovak pavilion at the Venice Biennale next year, Adam Bubak from the selection panel said. The project, co-curated Katarína Rusnáková and entitled Apotheosis – Where Is My Home, has been chosen from 38 proposals; Mr Bubak described the project as “very complex and reflective of the world we live in”. The prestigious Venice Biennale, whose 56th edition is to be held next May, is the world’s oldest art festival.

Police detain Finance Ministry bomb threat suspect

The police have detained a man who allegedly made a hoax bomb threat at the Finance Ministry on Tuesday, a police spokeswoman said. Some 800 people were evacuated from the ministry building at central Prague but no explosives were found. The suspect, identified as a 20-year-old man from the north-eastern Šumperk region, had made similar threats in the past, according to the police. If found guilty, he faces up to five years in prison.

08-10-2014