Prague, Dec 3 (CTK) – Czech Statistical Office (CSU) chairwoman Iva Ritschelova died of a serious disease late on Saturday at the age of 53, CSU spokeswoman Petra Bacova told the media on Sunday.

Ritschelova was appointed CSU chairwoman on September 1, 2010, replacing Jan Fischer.

Fischer, nevertheless, held the post only formally because in May 2009, he became prime minister of a caretaker cabinet. In the meantime, CSU deputy chairman Jiri Krovak headed the CSU on his behalf.

Ritschelova, a graduate from the Engineering (now Technical) University in Liberec, north Bohemia, majored in consumer industry economics. She achieved the CSc (candidate of sciences) title at Prague’s University of Economics in 1993, and was appointed professor in 2012.

Before arriving in the CSU, Ritschelova lectured at the J. E. Purkyne University in Usti nad Labem and the Technical University in Liberec, both north Bohemia.

As the CSU chairwoman, she pushed through upgraded statistical methods, including electronic gathering of data.

She reduced the administrative burden in the area of statistical findings and promoted statistical awareness of the broad public.

During her scientific career, Ritschelova focused on macroeconomic aspects in relation to the creation and protection of the environment and on the environmental economics, and assisted in developing a national statistics system in the environment protection field.

She participated in a number of study stays abroad and was part of U.N. missions to Kosovo, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan.

She was a member of several scientific and editorial boards.

In October 2007, Ritschelova declined the Green Party’s offer to replace Dana Kuchtova (Greens) as education minister.

The CSU is a national administration body. It coordinates the gathering and processing of statistical data by individual ministries.

The nomination of a new CSU chairperson will thus probably be one of the first tasks for the new government of Andrej Babis (ANO) that has emerged from the October general election and is to be appointed in mid-December.

The CSU chairperson is appointed by the president on the proposal of the government.

Outgoing Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said Ritschelova ranked among respected personalities of Czech science and proved herself as a good manager at the CSU head.

Babis, the next prime minister, said Ritschelova was responsible and loyal to the state. “Cooperation with her was excellent,” Babis tweeted, expressing sympathy to her family and friends.

Presidential candidate Michal Horacek said Ritschelova largely contributed to the Czech Republic having an independent and competent statistical office.

“It would be far from easy for the government and the president to find a replacement for her,” Horacek said.