Daily news summary


Judges face dilemma over wages appeal

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said that the government does not want to pay an estimated 1.7 billion crowns in back pay to judges and other civil servants. He has said that he hopes the Constitution Court will take up the case. The claimed back pay results from a decision in January by the Supreme Court which found that payments had not been calculated on the right basis since 2002. Reopening the case depends in part on an appeal by the Brno court where the case was first heard but its head says that he is in favour of the Supreme Court’s decision.

Flu jabs fall down in fight against winter epidemic

Flu jabs this winter appear to be a lot less effective than in the past for Czechs. The flu virus this year appears to have mutated into a version for which preventive flu jabs appear to be effective in less than half of cases, according to one of the country’s main experts and advisors for one of the biggest Czech network of immunization centres. The new flu variety results in shorter but more extreme infection. In the first week of 2015, the number of flu cases rose by almost 95 percent and those with acute respiratory illnesses by 23 percent, according to the National Referential Laboratory.

Czech Airlines switches strategy to focus on West European markets

Czech Airlines (ČSA) is switching its strategy and dropping flights to Russia in favour of new routes to Western Europe. The daily Newspaper Mladá Fronta Dnes reported Wednesday that new routes to Porto, Athens, Liverpool, Bordeaux, and Stavanger, will be announced for the summer season. The five year old policy of concentrating flights to Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union has over the last year hit problems with fewer passengers for flights in both directions. The new timetable should be revealed next week.

President’s office denies banning order on handicapped restaurant personnel

President Miloš Zeman’s spokesman has categorically denied a report in the Právo newspaper that a restaurant had received instructions from Prague Castle that the president was not to be served at by any of its handicapped staff members. He said the report had been deliberately construed to damage the public image of the head of state. Jiří Ovčáček added that the president’s office had consulted with one of the handicapped persons working at the brewery restaurant about how the meal would proceed. Právo said staff were given some hours off but had to come back later to clean up.

Czech officials to discuss terms for return of ethnic Czechs

Czech officials will head out to Odessa in Ukraine at the start of next week to sound out ethnic Czechs about the possibility of their returning home. Around 200 are believed to be interested in moving to the Czech Republic. Preparations being made for them include lodging provided by the Ministry of Interior and payments to adults and children. Language and requalification courses could also be offered, Around 2,000 ethnic Czechs are believed to have returned since the early 19990s.

Life sentences for methanol poisoning confirmed

A court in Olomouc has confirmed life sentences given to two defendants in the so-called methanol affair. The original sentences on two members of the Zlín branch who were found guilty of mixing the alcoholic cocktail that killed at least 47 people were confirmed on Wednesday. The original sentences on Rudolf Fian and Tomáš Křepela were handed out last May. An appeal by seven others in the affair was allowed in January and a regional court will have to hear the evidence again. Deadly methanol was mixed with bootleg liquor by a far reaching network which was uncovered when the first deaths occurred in 2012.

Bikes shipped from Czech Republic to save elephants

Around 200 bicycles will be shipped from the Czech Republic to be used by nature park rangers in their bid to protect elephants against poachers. Most of the bicycles will be sent to Chad, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic. The Czech charity Bikes for Africa was created in 2012 and has so far dispatched around 13,000 bicycles to the continent. Some of the bicycles are offered to children so that they can get to school and obtain an education which might turn them away from poaching.

Folk song populariser Pavel Jurkovič dies

Czech composer and populariser of folk music Pavel Jurkovič has died at the age of 81. Jurkovič was mainly known for his series on Czech Television ‘Zpívánky‘ which introduced children to folk music. Music was a tradition in Jurkovič‘s family and at the age of 12 he was sent to a renowned singing school in Prague. He was a recognised authority on medieval, baroque, and renaissance music and a prolific author on the subject.

Press: President’s staff ordered that he not be served by handicapped during restaurant visit

Representatives of his office ordered that President Miloš Zeman not be waited on by handicapped servers on a visit to a restaurant on Tuesday, its owner, Jan Srb, told the newspaper Právo. Mr. Srb said his Křinický brewery in the town of Krásná Lípa in Central Bohemia had received instructions from Prague Castle that the president was not to be served at its restaurant by any of its handicapped staff members. They were given some hours off but had to come back later to clean up. Earlier on Tuesday a group of handicapped people had protested against the president over a recent statement that handicapped and able-bodied children should not attend the same schools.

Temperatures fall to almost -30 in Šumava overnight

A temperature of -29 degrees Celsius was recorded at Rokytská slať near the village of Modrava in the Šumava mountain range of south Bohemia on Tuesday night, a representative of the Hydro-Meteorological Institute in the city of České Budějovice told the Czech News agency. At the Perla weather station at Kvilda in the Šumava’s Prachatice district -27.7 degrees Celsius was registered.