Property owners in the Czech Republic intend to sue the state for money lost through regulated rent, the Civic Association of Property Owners (OSMD) said on Wednesday. Property owners have lost up to 50 billion Czech crowns (2.2 billion US dollars) since 2002, as the state's rent-control system makes it impossible for them to cover basic maintenance costs, the association says.
The decision to take the state to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg comes after that court ruled in favour of a Polish property owner last week, giving Poland six months to change its regulated-rent system to avoid property owners from making losses.
The leaders of the three ruling coalition parties have failed to come to a compromise over the future of the government at a joint meeting in Prague on Wednesday. The coalition of the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Freedom Union, has been threatening to break up, following internal disagreement over whether Prime Minister Stanislav Gross should remain in office. Mr Gross has been in hot water after failing to explain how he was able to pay for his flat in Prague six years ago.
Fearing the scandal would damage the coalition's image, the junior Christian Democrats have called onto Mr Gross to be removed from office. However, the prime minister's party, the Social Democrats, say he has their full support and would be willing to lead a minority government without the Christian Democrats. The third coalition partner, the Freedom Union, is not in favour of a minority government and some Freedom Union senators have joined the Christian Democrats in their call for Mr Gross' resignation.
Meanwhile, some two hundred protesters gathered in front of the government offices in Prague to also call onto Prime Minister Stanislav Gross to step down. The protesters, who have been pointing to the results of opinion polls that suggest most Czechs would like the prime minister to resign, also made the same demand last week. They plan to continue with the protests every Wednesday until their demand is met.
The Czech Republic is preparing for a battle against a flu pandemic. The cabinet has approved a health ministry proposal to buy medication worth 290 million Czech crowns (a little under 13 million US dollars) that reduces flu symptoms. The last flu pandemic broke out in 1968. Since it would take three months to prepare a vaccine if it were to break out today, the government plans to give the medication Tamiflu to some 1.8 million citizens - children, the elderly, diabetics, or chronic, heart or oncology patients as well as citizens needed to run the state like police officers, fire fighters, and health care workers, for example.
The next few days should see partially clear skies with day-time temperatures between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius.
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