Friday, April 29, 2011

News 4.29.2011

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

News Friday, April 29th, 2011

By: Jan Velinger

* The head of the opposition Social Democrats has said in an interview
that forming a minority government supported by the Communist Party
would be acceptable should the result of the next election allow it.

* A new poll conducted by Factum Invenio has indicated that if a
general election were held today it would be won handily by the Social

* A former Communist Party MP has been cleared of charges that he
tortured political prisoners under the former totalitarian regime.

* The State Prosecutors' Office has confirmed that the late suspect
Otakar T. was in all likelihood the man responsible for the rape and
murder of nine-year-old Anna Janatkova.

* The police on Friday are expected to end their on-site investigation
at an explosives plant in eastern Bohemia.

Social Democrats' leader says future minority government supported by
Communists one of several possibilities

The head of the opposition Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, has said
in an interview for financial daily Hospodarske noviny that forming a
minority government supported by the Communist Party would be an
acceptable option for him if the next election results allow it. But he
stressed that it was not his party's goal to rule together with the
Communists. In 1995, the Social Democrats passed a party decree banning
it from forming a coalition with the Communist Party at the national
level; both parties, however, have since governed together in local

New poll: Social Democrats, Communists would clinch enough votes to
pave way for Leftist government

In related news, a new poll conducted by Factum Invenio has indicated
that if a general election were held today it would be won handily by
the Social Democrats, who would pick up 74 seats in the lower house of
Parliament. The centre-right Civic Democrats, the head of the current
ruling coalition, would clinch just 48. According to the survey, the
Communists would pick up 33 mandates, paving the way for a Leftist
government. Coalition party TOP 09, the poll suggests, would get 14.2
percent of the vote and the Christian Democrats - who failed to cross
the five percent threshold last time - would now gain enough votes to
return to the Chamber of Deputies.

According to the poll, upstart party Public Affairs, whose members were
elected on an anti-corruption platform last year, would not make it in.
Public Affairs was at the centre of a recent coalition scandal that has
left the credibility of the government badly damaged.

Former Communist Party MP cleared of torture charges

Former MP Josef Vondruska has been cleared of charges that he tortured
political prisoners under the country's former communist regime,
justice authorities have said. A court in the north-western city of
Liberec on Thursday found Mr Vondruska, 63, not guilty due to lack of
direct evidence. Before Prague's communist regime collapsed in 1989, Mr
Vondruska worked as a prison guard. He was accused by former detainees
of having carried out particularly brutal beatings of political
dissidents. The court ruled, however, that prosecutors had only
presented indirect evidence of Vondruska's alleged crimes The
prosecution immediately appealed the verdict. Mr Vondruska served as a
lawmaker from 2002 to 2010; his parliamentary immunity was lifted in
2007 to allow him to stand trial.

Group of States against Corruption: more transparency needed in
financing of Czech political parties

The Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption has
indicated in a report that the Czech Republic is among countries that
need to make the financing of political parties and movements more
transparent. The report stresses that access to information about
financing was needed, as well as a more frequent overview of donations.
Also recommended in the report is improvement in the Czech Republic in
the area of independent monitoring of pre-election campaigns. More
pro-active monitoring needed to be present, the group found, but would
require a strengthened mandate and support in funds.

State Prosecutors' Office confirms suspect Otakar T. was in all
likelihood the man who killed Prague nine-year-old

The Prague State Prosecutors' Office has confirmed that the late
suspect Otakar T. was in all likelihood the man responsible for the
rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl from the Troja district last
year. Prosecutor Jana Hercegova made the announcement on Friday, saying
that the chain of indirect evidence in the case practically ruled out
that the perpetrator could have been anyone else. The evidence cited
includes changes in the suspect's testimony to the police, DNA evidence
found on the murdered child's schoolbag, and dactyloscopic traces found
on a plastic bag underneath. Nine year-old Anicka Janatkova disappeared
on her way from school last October sparking a nation-wide search.
Otakar T. - suspected by the police early on - was charged with the
girl's rape and murder only months later, after her body was found. He
attempted to commit suicide in a holding cell and died later from
related injuries.

Police to wrap up on-site investigation at explosives plant

The police on Friday are expected to end their on-site investigation at
an explosives plant in eastern Bohemia which suffered a huge
nitro-glycerine explosion last Wednesday that claimed four lives. The
bodies were not recovered following the tragedy; only some human
remains were found. The full result of the investigation into the
accident is expected by the end of May. Specialists from the country's
Mining Office have conducted their own investigation of the damaged
site, as well as questioned witnesses, and have for now banned the
further production of dynamite-type explosives in other areas of the

State forestry company launches mega-tender

The state forestry company Lesy Ceske republiky has launched a tender
on a five-year project on the sale of lumber and other forestry work to
begin in 2012. The news was confirmed by a company spokesman on Friday.
The tender is reportedly worth one billion Czech crowns. According to
available information the public tender will be divided along 117
sections. Work will include the cutting and removal of lumber together
with the planting of new trees. A fifth of lumber removed will have to
be traded on the market or sold off in auction to give smaller
producers a chance. LCR owns some 1.3 million hectares, roughly half of
the country's forests and 90 percent of the Lesy Ceske republiky's
forests are subject to the tender. The mega-tender, however, has come
under criticism from a number of environmental groups and some lumber

Former environment minister named 'winner' of Ropak award

The former environment minister Pavel Drobil (of the Civic Democrats)
has been named the winner of this year's "Ropak" (or Oil Guzzler),
recognising the worst environmental policies. Winners of the anti-award
are chosen each year by the Czech environmentalist group Deti Zeme
(Children of the Earth). Mr Drobil, the organisation said, was singled
out for the anti-award for a number of reasons, including, it charged,
for weakening the importance and competencies of the environment
ministry. The Ropak award takes its name from a fictional creature that
survives on industrial waste; the animal was invented by Czech
filmmaker Jan Sverak.

Famous Venus of Petrkovice to return home for a day

The Venus of Petrkovice, a statuette from the Upper Palaeolithic period
believed to be 23 thousand years old and valued at 50 million euros,
will be exhibited at the site where it was first discovered in
Ostrava-Petrkovice. The event will take place on Sunday, May 1 and last
only throughout the day. The figurine, a headless female torso just 4.6
centimetres tall, was found by archaeologist Bohuslav Klima in July,
1953. The statuette is carved from hematite.

Hockey: goalie told to shorten leg pads ahead of championship, coach
awaits new arrivals

The Czech Republic's starting goalie at the Ice Hockey World
Championships, Ondrej Pavelec, has been told by officials to change
part of his equipment ahead of his first game. He will have to shorten
his leg pads which were reportedly a centimetre too long. The goalie
expressed surprise over the decision, saying the equipment was exactly
the same as he used in the championship last year in Germany and the
same that he uses regularly in the NHL.

The team's coach Alois Hadamczik, meanwhile, has completed 18 names on
the team roster with six spots left to fill. The team should now get
added strength from overseas, including help from forward Tomas
Plekanec who arrives in Slovakia on Saturday. The team he plays for,
the Montreal Canadiens, was eliminated in the NHL playoffs earlier this


Cloudy conditions and a chance of thunderstorms are expected into the
weekend. Daytime temperatures should reach highs of 19 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

A post-crisis interview with Prime Minister Petr Necas

The Czech government has been through a great deal in the nine months
since the three-party coalition was formed. While struggling with
wide-ranging systemic reforms, the ministries have been hit by one
scandal after another, culminating in a major government crisis this
month, in which it was unclear whether the coalition would survive. In
a special feature today we talk with the Prime Minister of the Czech
Republic and chairman of the Civic Democratic Party, Petr Necas, about
the issues that the government has faced and where it stands now.

Business News 29.4.2011

In this week's business news: An expert from a government think tank
criticizes the behavior of the country's immigration police, the
Confederation of Industry elects a new president, the home electronics
company ETA is to let go a fifth of their staff, Czech cinemas see
their revenue drop by nearly 40 percent, and the Food Inspection
Authority closes down a Prague location of the national grocery chain

Brno braces itself for Sunday's neo-Nazi march

The city of Brno, in the south-east of the country, is bracing itself
for Sunday's extremist march through one of the city's Romany
neighbourhoods. A local court had overturned a ban on the march issued
by Brno City Hall. Now, police are getting ready to deploy hundreds of
officers to oversee the march, while several local groups are planning
to try and block part of its route.

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