News

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Czech government wants to take tougher line with US over visas

The Czech government is resolved to take a tougher line with the US over visas, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek told journalists after Wednesday's Cabinet meeting. The Czech Republic has been pressing for years to change the imbalance in the two countries visa policies. While US citizens only need a valid passport to enter the Czech Republic, Czechs still require visas to go to the United States. The PM said this was strange given the fact that the Czech Republic was one of a few countries which staunchly supported US policy. Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda advocated a tougher approach also towards Canada and Australia where the visa situation is the same.

Czech Republic protests attack on Czech journalist in Minsk

The Czech Foreign Ministry has sent a protest note to Belarus over an attack on a Czech journalist in the capital Minsk during the presidential election, and asked for a thorough investigation into the affair. Jan Rybar suffered concussion and a broken nose after being set upon by two men on Sunday, the day Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected president in a vote the European Union said was neither free nor fair. Mr Rybar said he believed his assailants were secret police officers. Minister Svoboda told Wednesday's Mlada fronta Dnes he regarded the incident as very serious.

Kokorin to be returned to former owners

A regional court has ruled that Kokorin Castle should be returned to its former owners: the Spacek family. The National Hertitage Fund which lost the case over the state-owned castle has not said whether it would appeal the verdict. Kokorin Castle which dates back to the 14th century, came into the ownership of the Spacek family in the early 20 th century and was confiscated by the communists after they came to power in 1948.

Previous attempts by the family to get their property restored were thwarted by a law stipulating that all national cultural monuments must remain in state ownership. Last year the Constitutional court ruled this law unconstitutional, opening the way for the family's restitution claim.

Pospichal resigns

The deputy transport minister Petr Pospichal has resigned from office amid allegations of his possible involvement in a corruption scandal. According to the CTK news agency Pospichal is being questioned by the police and is to leave his post by Friday.

State attorney accuses ex-minister Souckova over Diag Human

The State Attorney has accused the former health minister Marie Souckova of breach of trust and abuse of power in connection with action she took relating to the Diag Human case. During her time in office the minister signed a highly disadvantageous contract with lawyer Zdenek Novacek who was to provide the ministry with legal advice in its dispute with Diag Human, a firm trading in blood plasma. The contract stated that he was to be paid 20 million crowns and a further 170 million crowns if the state won its case against Diag Human.

New Council for seniors issues

The government has established an advisory council on seniors that will deal with problems linked to the aging of Czech society. The council will be headed by Labour Minister Zdenek Skromach and will be made up of representatives of organizations whose activities focus on senior citizens. The government expects the council to draft a systematic approach to meeting the needs of an aging society and make suggestions which would help improve the lives of pensioners.

More complaints from patients

The Czech Medical Chamber is receiving a growing number of complaints from patients regarding treatment received at the hands of GPs and specialists. The head of the commission dealing with complaints Jana Vedralova said that most of the cases were about poor communication between doctor and patient rather than a poor diagnosis or an error in judgement.

Weather:

Thursday is expected to be partly cloudy with day temperatures between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius.