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Petříček backs Ukraine on visit near frontline with pro-Russian separatists

The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, has visited the Eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on the second day of a trip to the country. On Tuesday he and his Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Klimkin, travelled from Kiev to the coastal city, which is a few kilometres from the frontline between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists.

Mr. Petříček said he had got a first-hand impression of the human and economic hardship caused by the Russian-backed armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine. He said he had expressed the conviction that the country’s citizens had the right to live in dignity and peace.

Slovak president warns against populism in Masaryk University address

The Slovak president, Andrej Kiska, has warned against the spreading of distrust in the state and populism in a speech at Brno’s Masaryk University. Rector Mikuláš Bek said that Mr. Kiska was maintaining the traditions of Masaryk and Štefánik in Czech and Slovak politics, adding that he had not gone in for vulgar humour or cheap witticisms.

The Slovak head of state received Masaryk University’s Grand Gold Medal during a ceremony on Tuesday morning. On Monday the institution celebrated the centenary of its foundation.

Czech crime rate down almost 5 percent last year

The crime rate in the Czech Republic declined by 4.9 percent in 2018, according to police figures released on Tuesday. It was the fifth year in a row that the number of reported crimes was down.

Just over half of the crimes reported last year involved property. Some 116 murders were registered, 30 fewer than in 2017. The police said they had managed to clear up 54.9 percent of all the crimes they dealt with.

MPs may have salaries cut over unexcused no-shows

Czech MPs may have their salaries cut if they fail to turn up for lower house sessions or meetings of committees of which they are members. Pirate Party MP Jakub Michálek told iDnes.cz that representatives of different parties’ parliamentary groups had agreed to discuss the matter later this week.

A law docking deputies’ salaries and benefits if they do not officially excuse themselves from two or more sessions or committee meetings has been on the statute books for two decades. However, no body has been charged with implementing the legislation.

Mr. Michálek has proposed that the lower house’s Organisational Committee assume responsibility and begin fining MPs for unexplained absenteeism, iDnes.cz reported.

Minister: State should cover 90 percent of cost of medical marijuana

The Czech minister of health, ANO-appointee Adam Vojtěch, says his ministry will propose legislation under which the state would pay for 90 percent of the cost of medical marijuana. The maximum amount covered under the scheme would be 30 grams a month. At present patients using medical marijuana are themselves responsible for the entire cost.

Last year an average of 67 patients a month were prescribed medical marijuana. Average usage was 6.3 grams a month. However, some patients complain that the permitted dosage is insufficient for their needs.

Czechia moves up in TI’s Corruption perception rankings

The Czech Republic has improved its standing in watchdog Transparency International’s Annual Corruption Index for 2018. The country has moved four rungs up the ladder to 38th spot in the worldwide rankings.

Under TI’s criteria, the Czech Republic picked up 59 points compared to 57 in 2017. However, it is still lagging behind the EU average by six points.

Transparency International’s annual Index has rated countries by perceived levels of corruption since 1995 on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being very corrupt and 100 being very clean.

Weather forecast

Wednesday should be cloudy with some bright spells in the Czech Republic, with daytime highs around freezing point. Temperatures should climb to up to 5 degrees Celsius in the following days.