Daily news summary


President Zeman files complaint with Constitutional Court over civil service bill

Czech President Miloš Zeman on Friday filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court over the civil service bill. The president proposes to revoke the bill in full or to abolish certain parts. Mr Zeman vetoed the bill, which had been approved by the Czech parliament early in October, but his veto was subsequently overturned in a new lower house vote. The bill should depoliticize public administration and overhaul rules for the employment of public servants, but Mr Zeman has repeatedly criticised the fact that it introduces politically appointed deputy ministers.

Former PM Paroubek quits politics

Former Prime Minister and ex-chairman of the Social Democrats Jiří Paroubek announced on Friday that he is stepping down as chairman of his party LEV 21. Mr Paroubek told the website Vaše Věc that he wanted to devote more time to his family, and focus on business and publishing activities, adding that his return to politics was unlikely.

Jiří Paroubek, who is now 62, headed the Social Democratic Party from 2006 to 2010 and served as Prime Minister between 2005 and 2006. After leaving the Social Democrats in 2011, he established his own left-oriented party LEV 21, which failed to win seats in the lower house in the past general election. Mr Paroubek currently works as economic advisor.

Lower House deputy chair Filip defends his trip to Moscow

Vojtěch Filip, deputy chair of the lower house and head of the Communist Party, on Friday defended his recent trip to Moscow, which was condemned by the majority of Czech MPs. Mr Filip insisted it was an official trip of the lower chamber, approved by its head Jan Hamáček of the Social Democrats. He also said the main topic on his agenda was the impact of the EU sanctions against Russia on Czech companies. Mr Filip visited the Russian Parliament last Wednesday at the invitation of its vice chairman Sergei Zheleznyak, who is one of the Russian officials targeted by the EU and US sanctions.

Health Minister Němeček accuses ANO party Babiš of publishing lies

Minister Svatopluk Němeček of the Social Democrats has accused media controlled by the Agrofert company, which is owned by ANO party leader Andrej Babiš, of publishing lies and trying to damage his reputation. Mr Němeček denied information published by the Mladá fronta Dnes daily and idnes.cz website on Friday, claiming that the health ministry had advocated stem cell treatment for patients suffering from diabetes. Finance Minister Babiš reacted on Twitter by saying that the health minister should undergo alcohol addiction and psychiatric treatment. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told the Czech News Agency that the dispute will be discussed at a special coalition meeting.

Parties agree on posts at Prague City Hall

The ANO party, along with the Social Democrats and the three-way coalition of the Greens, the Christian Democrats and Mayors and Independents, have agreed on a division of responsibilities at Prague City Hall and on the members of the eleven-member city council.

Adriana Krnáčová of the ruling ANO party will run for the post of mayor. The winning party will also take four seats on the council and hold the city’s finances, security, health and housing. The Social Democrats will be responsible for transport, social policy, European funds and education while the three-way Coalition will get the departments of environment, culture and infrastructure.

First delivery of medical marihuana arrives in Czech Republic

The first delivery of medical marihuana for patients suffering from illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, has arrived in the Czech Republic. One kilogramme of the drug imported from the Netherlands by the company Czech medical Herbs will be distributed to pharmacies in the course of next week. Another two companies that won a license for growing and distributing medical marihuana are Elkoplast Slušovice and Phoenix. The law on medical marihuana opening the way for patients suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other neurological diseases to use the drug under medical supervision, came into force in February last year.

Havel bench unveiled in Oxford

Ex-president Václav Havel has been honoured with a memorial bench in Oxford. The bench, located on the university campus, is designed to invite discussion and like others located in Georgetown, Dublin, Barcelona or Prague, it was designed by Mr. Havel’s close friend architect Bořek Šípek. The bench in Oxford's University Parks is the first and only one in the UK. Its unveiling was scheduled to coincide with the November events marking the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution that toppled communism.

Czech universities to mark Velvet Revolution by gathering in Prague

Czech universities are organizing a gathering at Prague’s Albertov on November 17 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution and the 75th anniversary of the Nazi oppression of Czech university students in 1939. The event is to be attended by President Miloš Zeman and his counterparts from Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Germany. The event will be followed by a debate with the four heads of state at the building of the Law Faculty. A series of other events are scheduled to take place on November 17 across the Czech Republic to mark the fall of communist regime.

Prague hosting conference on home births

Prague is hosting an international conference on home births, a highly controversial topic in the Czech Republic. Although births at home are officially not allowed for safety reasons, hundreds of women are opting for home deliveries and increasing pressure on lawmakers to make this an option. In response to the pressure, an amendment to the law now allows women to give birth only with the help of a midwife, although the birth must still take place in a medical institution where doctors could take over in the event of an emergency. Advocates of home births are pushing for a complete liberalization of the law which would allow women to deliver in the comfort of their own home.

Five people charged with tax evasion

Police have charged five people with tax evasion amounting to some 700 million crowns, the website of the anti-corruption police unit informed on Friday. According to the unit’s spokesman Ladislav Ibehej, the suspects had established several firms in order to carry out fictitious exports of non-existent goods. If found guilty they would face up to ten years in prison.

Sparta beats Slovan Bratislava in Europa League

Sparta Prague beat Slovan Bratislava 4:0 in the second leg of their Europa League tie in Prague on Thursday. Sparta captain David Lafata scored twice; another two points were added by Krejčí and Costa. The first leg of Sparta’s Europa League tie against Slovan Bratislava, which was played in the Slovak capital in October, was tainted by crowd violence. Sparta was subsequently fined 80,000 euros by UEFA. The Czech team is next scheduled to play Napoli in spring in Prague.