Friday, March 18, 2011

News 3.18.2011

Copyright (c) 2011 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Friday, March 18th, 2011

By: Christian Falvey

* Foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg says he believes the UN's
resolution on Libya could lead to peace talks.

* The Foreign Ministry has approved five million crowns for
humanitarian aid to Japan.

* Belorussian presidential candidate Ales Michalevic has requested
political asylum in the Czech Republic.

* The Supreme State Prosecutor says the warrant for the raid on Czech
Television was justified, but the police did not did not follow its

* Social Affairs Minister Jaromir Drabek has written an open letter to
disabled people explaining his proposals for welfare reform.

Schwarzenberg: UN resolution on Libya could lead to peace talks

Foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg says he believes the UN's
resolution on Libya could lead to peace talks. These he says could be
complicated by the fact that the Libyan opposition is a highly
disparate group. Mr Schwarzenberg has been hesitant regarding the idea
of Western military intervention in Libya; he has however condoned the
UN resolution to allow aerial intervention on behalf of insurgents. The
Libyan regime declared a ceasefire shortly following the resolution,
though fighting continued in some areas as of Friday afternoon.

Foreign Ministry send five million, one Czech rescuer to Japan via EU

The Foreign Ministry approved five million crowns on Friday for
humanitarian aid to Japan. The funds, which equal roughly, come from
the ministry's budget and are intended in part for material aid and in
part as a contribution towards the immediate needs of persons in
emergency areas. The preparation and provision of material aid will be
coordinated by the European Union and will be distributed by a special
team that was dispatched to Tokyo on Friday. That group includes one
Czech, a member of a fire department rescue service in Hlucin.

Vondra: Czech forces will not participate in Libya

Should European militaries eventually intervene in Libya, Czech forces
will not be among them, Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra has said. Mr
Vondra says that Czech Gripen fighter aircraft are not equipped for
such an operation and that other participation would be unlikely. Czech
government officials have been largely opposed to foreign intervention
in recent weeks. President Vaclav Klaus protested the idea at a recent
EU summit on Libya, saying that the establishment of a no-fly zone was
tantamount to a declaration of war. Prime Minister Petr Necas has said
that his government supports the UN resolution.

Belorussian presidential candidate Michalevic requests asylum

The foreign ministry has confirmed that a Belorussian opposition
presidential candidate, Ales Michalevic, is in the Czech Republic and
has requested political asylum. Mr Schwarzenberg told the daily Pravo
on Thursday that he expects the authorities should fulfil the request,
adding that he knows Mr Michalevic personally and respects his bravery.
Ales Michalevic was in prison in Minsk for two months following mass
public protests against last year's election results and claims to have
been tortured. He left the country when his passport was confiscated by
the secret police.

Supreme State Prosecutor: Czech TV warrant was justified, police
handling was not

The Supreme State Prosecutor Vlastimil Rampula says that his employee's
decision to issue the military police a warrant to search Czech
Television was appropriate; the police, he says, did not did not follow
his instructions and recommendations. Mr Rampula told the Czech Press
Agency that the proposal to issue the warrant was properly justified
and had been accepted by the judge. The attorney in question, Vladimir
Muzik had instructed the police to use moderation and avoid the use of
armed units without proper explanation. On March 11 around a dozen
military police officers, masked and with automatic rifles, stormed the
public television building in search of a military intelligence file
that was in the possession of a reporter there.

Soc. Dem. conference begins in Brno

The conference of the Social Democratic Party began on Friday at the
exhibition hall in Brno. The roughly 600 Delegates at the conference
will be electing the new party leadership, including the chairman. The
favourites for the position are acting chairman Bohuslav Sobotka and
the governor of the region of South Moravia, Michal Hasek. Mr Sobotka
opened the conference with a speech criticising the government
coalition for its taxation and pension reform policies and corruption
scandals. He also said that the party must create a less negative image
and rely less on public opinion surveys.

Paroubek issues own convention speech

Former party chairman Jiri Paroubek, who is not attending the
conference, has published his own speech, in which he sharply
criticises several party figures for laziness, adherence to routine and
a lack of fresh ideas. Among other things, he rebukes the party
leadership for failing to prepare an alternative pension reform plan
and playing into the hands of President Klaus and the coalition. Mr
Paroubek resigned his position as party chairman after their
unexpectedly poor result in general elections last May. Reportedly, he
is not attending the conference because he was invited only at the last
moment and not in a manner befitting a former chairman.

Social Affairs minister: handicapped with retain special benefits cards

Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jaromir Drabek has written an open
letter to disabled people explaining his proposals for social welfare
reform. In it, the minister seeks to address 'myths and untruths'
regarding the loss of 'ZTP", or special benefits cards and their
associated benefits and dispensations. Talks with social welfare
partners, non-profit organisations and civic associations regarding the
proposal are ongoing, he says. Disabled people's organisations have
declared a public demonstration for March 22 that they believe will be
the largest such protest in the last 20 years.

Court approves arrest of suspect in Jatatkova murder

A district court in Prague has approved the arrest of a man charged
with raping and murdering nine-year-old Anna Janatkova in Prague's
Troya district last October. He was accused on Thursday after police
confirmed they had found the child's remains not far from where she had
disappeared last October and her autopsy proved a violent death. The
suspect was detained and questioned at the time of her disappearance,
but the court ruled there was a lack of evidence for his arrest.
Teachers and classmates at the victim's primary school held a memorial
service on Thursday; a team of psychologists and crisis specialists
have been sent to the school to assist the bereaved.

Chief of police announces major security for rightwing May Day
gathering in Brno

Police intend to prepare massive security precautions ahead of a May
Day gathering of rightwing youths in the centre of Brno, Chief of
Police Petr Lessy announced Friday. Mr Lessy told the Czech Press
Agency that officers from other regions would be on site to monitor the
event and that he wants to send the message that such groups are
unwelcome in Brno, where they have attempted to hold rallies before.
The youth association in question is associated with the former
Workers' Party, an extremist organisation that was banned last year.


Conditions over the coming days are expected to be rainy and cold with
daytime highs of around 5o Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Business News 18.3.2011

In this week's Business News: Skoda Auto steps up profits, Sazka runs
out of chances; cash claw back threat for Skanska; Czech Airlines pares
back losses; and a new departure for Prague airport.

Learning to Dwell: Adolf Loos at the RIBA in London

In this week's Arts I talk to Irena Murray-Zantovska of the Royal
Institute of British Architects in London about a successful new show
there examining work in the Czech lands by famous Functionalist
architect Adolf Loos. The show picks up from a similar exhibition held
in the Czech capital in 2008 and presents to British audiences some of
Loos' best known buildings in the Czech Republic and Prague, most
notably the Muller Villa.

Social Democrats meet to choose new party leader

The Czech Republic's biggest opposition party, the left-of-centre
Social Democratic Party, begins a two day congress on Friday which
should elect a new leader. Former leader Jiri Paroubek stepped down
after disappointing election results in May last year cast the party
into the opposition. The two leading contenders are former finance
minister and acting party chief, Bohuslav Sobotka, and the governor of
Southern Moravia, Michal Hasek. Political analyst Jiri Pehe spoke with
Jan Richter about the meeting in Brno and the biggest impact of the
leadership election.

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