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EC approves all Czech operational programmes

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretsu on Thursday signed a list of operational programmes for the Czech Republic from the European Structural and Investment Fund for the 2014 to 2020 period. All of the country’s operational programmes have now been approved by the EC. In total, about 23.85 billion euros (about 644 billion crowns) have been earmarked for the Czech Republic in the said period.

Višegrad countries opposed to mandatory migrant resettlement quotas

The Višegrad Four countries, i.e. the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, are opposed to the idea of mandatory migrant resettlement quotas proposed by the EC, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Thursday. The Czech head of government and representatives of the other Višegrad group states met on the sidelines of the Brussels summit of EU and the Latin American and Caribbean states (CELAC) in order to coordinate their positions on the migration problem ahead of the end-June meeting of the European Council. They are to discuss the issue again at a meeting of the Višegrad group prime ministers in Bratislava, Slovakia on June 19.

Police investigating CzechTourism on suspicion of mismanagement of funds

The police are investigating suspected abuse of funds at the government agency CzechTourism. The law enforcement authorities were alerted to possible irregularities at the agency by the minister for regional development, Karla Šlechtova. According to a police spokeswoman the suspicion was not ungrounded and police have been collecting evidence in view of filing charges. According to Minister Šlechtova the agency mismanaged hundreds of millions of crowns in the past decade.

Parliament’s Social Affairs Committee approves introduction of kurzarbeit

The Social Affairs Committee in the lower house of Parliament has approved the introduction of kurzarbeit - an agreement between the state, companies and employees under which firms in financial straits could put workers on part-time work rather than affecting major lay-offs. Employees on part time work would receive 70 percent of their wages with 50 percent paid by their employer and 20 percent covered by the state. The introduction of kurzarbeit was proposed by the government in connection with the economic crisis and the sanctions against Russia which have hurt selected companies. Individual applications for state support would be decided by the government.

President Zeman to appoint Kateřina Valachová education minister next Wednesday

President Miloš Zeman will appoint Kateřina Valachová education minister next Wednesday, the ctk news agency reports. The president met with Ms. Valachová on Thursday to ask about her plans for the education sector. Kateřina Valachová, who replaces Marcel Chladek, sacked for bullying his subordinates, has said she will fight for more money for teaching and non-teaching staff, create a payment system whereby teachers would be motivated to perform better and reduce regional differences in the provision of education. She and the president also discussed the need for inclusive education.

Czech Eurojackpot winner claims his winnings

The Czech winner of the biggest ever Eurojackpot has come forward to claim his money, the Sazka betting agency reported on Thursday. The man appeared more than three weeks after winning a staggering 90 million euro or 2.4 billion crowns in the lottery and demanded he remain in anonymity. Sazka disclosed only that winner was a middle-aged man who was still working and who said he had needed time to think things over. He took out 270,000 crowns in cash and left, saying he was in a hurry to catch a train, the Sazka employee said. The winner has been offered the services of a psychologist and financial advisor.

Protests against lifting of coal mining limits in the north

Protests against the lifting of brown coal mining limits in North Bohemia are scheduled to take place at two dozen locations around the country on Thursday. Coal mining limits in north Bohemia were introduced in 1991 as a guarantee for municipalities situated on coal deposits that they would not be pulled down to enable further mining. The question is now being revised by the government in view of its long-term energy starategy and the Czech Industry and Trade Ministry has commissioned an independent study to find out if the lifting of coal mining limits would pay off. The study should be ready by the end of August.

Vaccinations of Prague 6 children against hepatitis A continue

Close to 1,400 children in Prague 6 have been inoculated against hepatitis A in the wake of a serious water contamination incident late last month. The authorities recommended blanket vaccination of all children in the district after it emerged that water from a sewage pipe had seeped into the water pipe carrying water for consumption. There are 4,000 children registered in the area between the age of one an 15. All are being given the first shot for free, which protects them for a period of 5 years, a second shot which affords protection for a period of 25 years costs 1,000 crowns.

Prague’s Strahov tunnel to be closed for 10 days in July

Prague’s Strahov tunnel is to be closed to traffic for 10 days in July so as to allow construction workers to link it up to the new tunnel complex Blanka which, following numerous delays, is now scheduled to open in mid-September. The Stahov tunnel will be closed from July 4 to July 14 and the planned closure will be linked to numerous other traffic restrictions in the area.

German court gives Czech “hermit” three-year term for burglary

A court in Germany's Bavaria has handed a three-year prison term to a Czech “hermit” who lived in the Fichtel Mountains on the border of the two countries and robbed cottages in the area, the news website iDnes.cz reported. The homeless man, who is 62, earned the nickname “Mountain Man from Kornberg” and reputedly only stole what he needed to live over a ninth-month period, taking food and clothing but leaving valuables. iDnes.cz said for this reason he had earned the sympathy of local people.

Czech police creating “crime rate map” to highlight high-risk areas

The Czech police are putting together a “crime rate map” highlighting high-risk areas, the director of the country’s riot police, Martin Hrinko, said at a conference in Prague on Wednesday. Mr. Hrinko said the project would be based on data received from patrols on the ground, local authorities and citizens. Pilot versions of the system are already running; one, in the Central Bohemian town of Kolín, has reportedly led to a 25-percent fall in crime.