Daily news summary

Zeman questions Russia sanctions in Strasbourg speech

The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has questioned the effectiveness of international sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region. In an address to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Mr. Zeman compared the sanctions to Washington’s long-running embargo against Cuba, which failed to end the Castro regime.

The Czech head of state said that granting Kosovo independence was not a reasonable decision and that one standard applied to Kosovo and another to Crimea.

Mr. Zeman also told the European officials that his wife was in possession of a pistol and gun license, meaning he was not protected by his security detail alone but also by her.

Outgoing PM Sobotka makes euro adoption call

The outgoing Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, says the country should adopt the euro as soon as possible in order to remain at the core of the European Union, Novinky.cz reported. Speaking at a congress of the Confederation of Industry, the Social Democrat PM said there was no other path open to the Czech Republic.

Mr. Sobotka said all modernisation measures would function only if the country were members of the EU’s free internal market and part of a core of economically strong member states.

He also said that Czech politicians who had spoken about the country leaving the bloc were “crazies and semi-crazies”.

Czech GPs threaten one-day closure over funding demands

The association of Czech GPs wants its members to close their surgeries on Wednesday next week in protest at what it regards as insufficient funding and excessive bureaucracy. The call was made by the head of the doctors’ organisation, Petr Šonka, at one of a number of demonstrations held around the country on Tuesday.

Mr. Šonka said his association’s members were prepared to close their doors to the public repeatedly if their demands were not met.

However, the Ministry of Health says there is no money available to boost funding for GPs next year. A representative said its priority was to support Czech hospitals in a bid to stop them losing staff.

No trials for three accused over operation to force dissidents to emigrate

None of a trio of communist-era secret policemen suspected of involvement in a campaign to force dissidents to leave Czechoslovakia in the 1970s and 1980s will face trial, Czech Television reported on Tuesday.

The state attorney recently halted the investigation into one of the three as he was judged not well enough to stand trial. The other two had already been released.

The three had stood accused of threatening to kill a dissident in North Bohemia. The man, who was a doctor, subsequently left the country with his family.

The communist operation to force dissidents to leave Czechoslovakia was known as asanace (clearance).

Infant allegedly mistreated by foster mother dies

A two-year-old girl who police believe was mistreated by her foster mother died in hospital in Plzeň on Monday, the Czech News Agency reported. The woman, who is 25, has been in custody since Saturday and could face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty of grievous bodily harm.

The dead girl and another child were placed in the care of the woman and her husband in July this year. On Thursday the girl was taken into medical care. The second child is now being looked after by another family.

Campaign to encourage first-time voters launched

A campaign has been launched aimed at encouraging first-time voters to go to the polls in general elections in a week and a half’s time.

Named Tvoje poprvé (Your First Time), it takes the form of a video featuring a number of figures popular with young people, including singer Tomáš Klus and activist documentary maker Janek Rubeš.

Alongside the video, the campaign’s website features an election “calculator” allowing young potential voters to work out which parties best represent their views.

Weather forecast

Wednesday should see some sunny spells as well as rain in the Czech Republic, with temperatures of up to 16 degrees Celsius expected. The rest of the week is expected to be cloudy but mainly dry.