Wednesday, April 13, 2011

News 4.13.2011

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

News Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

By: Sarah Borufka

* Prime Minister Petr Necas has called a meeting of coalition leaders
to resolve the current government crisis.

* The opposition Social Democrats have called on Czech President Vaclav
Klaus to approve the proposed cabinet changes.

* Allegations that former Public Affairs member, MP Kristyna Koci, was
plotting against her party for months have further complicated the
ongoing government crisis.

* President Vaclav Klaus has made international headlines after a video
of him pocketing a pen during a press conference became a YouTube hit.

* Internationally renowned Czech photographer Miroslav Tichy dies at
age 84.

Coalition leaders set to meet to resolve crisis

Prime Minister Petr Necas has called a meeting of coalition leaders to
resolve the current government crisis, the daily Pravo reports. The
leaders of the governing Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and the Public Affairs
party are expected to attend a working dinner at the prime minister's
residence on Wednesday evening. The meeting is expected to focus on
changes in the cabinet following the resignation of Transport Minister
Vit Barta in the wake of a corruption scandal in the junior coalition
party and the proposed dismissal of the interior and education
ministers from the same party.

Opposition calls on president to approve resignations of two ministers

The main opposition party, the Social Democrats, have repeated their
call for the resignation of Interior Minister Radek John and the
proposed dismissal of the interior and education ministers from the
Public Affairs party to be approved by Czech President Vaclav Klaus.
Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka said on Wednesday that by
refusing to approve the cabinet changes, the president is aggravating
and prolonging the current government crisis. Mr. Klaus said earlier
that he would not approve the changes in cabinet until the governing
coalition had agreed on a solution to the crisis since he did not want
to see the country thrown into turmoil. The constitution binds the
president to approve all ministerial resignations and dismissals, but
does not specify a time frame.

Former Public Affairs MP reportedly planned plot against own party for

According to a report published on the website of the weekly Tyden on
Wednesday, the former head of the Public Affairs' group of deputies, MP
Kristyna Koci, had been plotting against her own party for several
months. The report cites a secretly-taped conversation between Mrs.
Koci and two other former Public Affairs members, in which she
allegedly speculates on who else would be willing to leave the party
following a corruption scandal surrounding its unofficial leader, Vit
Barta. Reportedly, Mrs. Koci also speaks of a project that she has been
planning with the head of the Civic Democrats' group of deputies Petr
Tluchor for several months. Mrs. Koci commented on the taped
conversation, claiming that what she had said was a "calculated lie."

She was the second Public Affairs figure to speak publicly about
corruption within the party, which has led to the ongoing crisis of the
Czech coalition government.

Public Affairs, Civic Democrats, PM react to report about alleged
inner-party plot

In a reaction to the report published on Tyden's website on Wednesday,
Public Affairs leader Radek John said that a report that Mrs. Koci had
been planning a plot against her own party in collaboration with
members of the Civic Democrats for several months had come as a shock.
He added that if the information was accurate, it would shed new light
on recent events and would have far-reaching consequences not just for
the party, but for the future of the government.

Commenting on the secretly-taped conversation, Prime Minister Petr
Necas labeled the allegations on the tape absurd. Claims that the head
of the Civic Democrats' group of deputies, Petr Tluchor, had forced him
to announce the resignation of transport minister and leading Public
Affairs member Vit Barta, who is at the center of the ongoing scandal
within the party, were akin to conspiracy theories, the PM said. He
added that the publication of this tape was to divert the attention
from the real cause of the ongoing government crisis and distanced
himself from the corruption scandal within Public Affairs.

Former Social Democrat leader speaks out in favor of minority government

Former Social Democrats leader Jiri Paroubek said on Wednesday that the
main opposition party should tolerate a minority government of Civic
Democrats and the right-of-center TOP 09 party should talks on saving
the three-party coalition fail. Mr. Paroubek said he believes that a
minority government would be a good thing since it would open the way
for a broad debate on sweeping reforms. He added that he does not
consider early elections to be a solution to the present crisis because
it would bring the country to a halt for several months.

Italian president visits Czech Republic to open renovated hall of
Prague's main station

Italian President Georgio Napolitano is in Prague for a two-day
official visit. On Wednesday morning he met with his Czech counterpart
Vaclav Klaus at Prague Castle to discuss bilateral relations and
international affairs, in particular the current situation in Libya
which has led to an influx of North African refugees in Italy. Mr.
Klaus and Mr. Napolitano are set to open a newly renovated hall of
Prague's main train station on Thursday. The renovation was financed by
the Italian investment company Grandi Stazioni. The state-owned Czech
Railways company has leased the station to the investor for 30 years.

President makes headlines after pen-pocketing incident becomes internet

Czech President Vaclav Klaus has made international headlines after a
clip of him stealing a pen during a press conference while visiting
Chile was broadcast on Czech Television on Sunday night and later
posted on the internet video platform YouTube. In the video, Klaus, who
is sitting next to his Chilean counterpart Sebastian Pinera, opens a
pen case, removes the pen from it and then hides his hands under the
table before closing the empty case. As of Wednesday, the video had
drawn over 1.5 million views, making it an internet sensation. In the
UK, both The Guardian and The Times covered the incident. Mr. Klaus was
quoted by the Czech news site on Tuesday, commenting that
taking pens from an event was "standard" and pointing out that the pen
he had taken was commonly presented to foreign delegations as a token.

Personal Data Protection Office starts investigation of ABL detective

The Personal Data Protection Office (UOOU) has started investigating
the ABL detective agency in connection with allegations that ABL spied
on Prague politicians from the Civic Democrats party. The results of
the inquiry are expected to be published by the end of May, the
director of the office told journalists on Wednesday. Police shelved
the case three weeks ago. ABL was established by former transport
minister Vit Barta, who stepped down on Friday following a corruption
scandal. Mr. Barta left his post as the general director of the agency
and sold his shares of the company to his brother before becoming
transport minister.

President approves new bill banning three dozen synthetic substances

President Vaclav Klaus has signed a bill adding over thirty synthetic
drugs to the list of banned substances. The lower house drafted the
proposal for the change in law in reaction to new synthetic narcotics
that have recently appeared on the Czech market, especially in northern
Moravia. Some of the substances that were added to the blacklist were
also recently banned in Poland. Initially, the Senate's committee on
constitutional and legal matters had refused to endorse the bill due to
concerns over the lack of a transition period, as well as its

Czech photographer Miroslav Tichy dies at age 84

Photographer Miroslav Tichy died on Tuesday at the age of 84. Tichy,
who took his pictures with a home-made camera, didn't rise to fame
until late in his life. Collector Roman Buxbaum introduced his work to
a larger audience in the 1990s. His photos have a characteristic style;
they are out of focus, over- or under-exposed. He often photographed
female passersby, with his camera concealed by his coat. Because of the
erotic nature of some of his work, some residents of the south Moravian
village of Kyjov, where he lived, considered him a voyeur and a madman.
His work has been shown at galleries worldwide and was recently
featured in a solo-exhibit at Prague's Old Town Hall.


Over the next few days, cool and rainy conditions are expected, with
mostly cloudy skies and daytime highs of around 10o Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Konopiste Chateau

The Czech Republic is famous as a country of castles but this week I
had a chance to visit one that is truly exceptional: the renowned
Konopiste Chateau, found just 40 kilometres south of Prague. Konopiste,
together with its wide surroundings and gorgeous interiors, is of
course particularly famous for its ill-fated last owner - the
heir-apparent to the Austrian throne, Archduke Francis Ferdinand,
assassinated, together with his wife, in Sarajevo in 1914 - the spark
that set off the First World War. In this edition of Spotlight we visit
some of the magnificent rooms at Konopiste which Francis Ferdinand and
his family once used to welcome notable guests.

Prime Minister Necas moves to try and break coalition deadlock

The on-going crisis within the Czech government has come to a point
where a mere meeting of coalition leaders might be a significant step
ahead. After President Vaclav Klaus refused to accept the proposed
changes to the cabinet until he was told exactly how things would
proceed, Prime Minister Petr Necas gave way and convened an informal
meeting of Civic Democrat, TOP 09 and Public Affairs leaders for
Wednesday night that should come up with ways of breaking the deadlock
within the coalition. Radio Prague spoke to commentator Eric Best, and
asked him whether he thought this could bring the crisis to an end.

Embryo transfers in IVF: more need not always be better

Health minister Leos Heger has announced that within a broad reform of
the health system he wants to change the rules for fertility treatment.
The minister has proposed curtailing the practice of multiple-embryo
transfers in assisted pregnancies - in favour of single-embryo
transfers on the grounds that it is the most inexpensive IVF method and
least likely to result in high-risk multiple births.

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