Thursday, April 7, 2011

News 4.7.2011

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

News Thursday, April 7th, 2011

By: Christian Falvey

* Top Public Affairs member Kristyna Koci has filed criminal charges
against Mr Barta; chairman Radek John has accused her of plotting an
in-party coup.

* The Public Affairs party is in major disarray as allegations of
corruption around Transport Minister Vit Barta multiply.

* Two deputy directors of the police anti-corruption unit have resigned.

* Health Minister Leos Heger will send reform bills for their first
reading in Parliament in early June.

* Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in Prague.

John: Koci plotting in-party coup...

The junior coalition party Public Affairs is in major disarray as calls
for the resignation of unofficial leader and Transport Minister Vit
Barta have increased and divisions among party members appear to be
quickly multiplying. The head of the party's parliamentary club
Kristyna Koci has filed criminal charges against Mr Barta, reportedly
because he gave her half a million crowns. Party chairman Radek John
has accused Ms Koci, a close aide, of seeking an in-party coup after
learning she had met with Prime Minister and Civic Democrat chairman
Petr Necas on Thursday morning. Mr John says that Ms Koci ceased
communicating with him since a special meeting on Tuesday at which
deputy chairman Jaroslav Skarka was expelled from the party. Mr John
claims she is coordinating a strategy with Mr Skarka and dissident
member Stanislav Huml, who quit the party Thursday evening. Much of the
media is speculating that the Civic Democratic Party is making a rapid
attempt to canvass Public Affair's MPs willing to support the
government in the event of Vit Barta's dismissal from the cabinet. With
24 seats in Parliament, Public Affairs' continuation in the government
is key to the 118-member coalition majority. Opposition leaders have
been speaking of pushing a vote of no confidence.

Skarka claims Public Affairs party leader has used private detective
agency to spy on politicians...

The unpromising situation around Public Affairs deepened on Thursday
with a number of new revelations in the daily Mlada fronta dnes. In an
interview, Jaroslav Skarka told the paper that in 2006, Transport
Minister Barta used his detective agency ABL, now owned by his brother,
to spy on Prague politicians. Mr Skarka, who was expelled from the
party on Wednesday over his claims of bribery, under-the-table rewards
and intimidation within the party, says that most orders to spy on
Civic Democrat politicians came directly from the current transport
minister. The former deputy chairman reportedly handed over materials
to prove his allegations to the Prague state prosecutor's office on
Wednesday, among them an envelope with 170,000 Czech crowns in cash
that he claims to have received from Barta in return for unspecified
party activities. Mr Barta denied the claims on Wednesday, stating that
the money Skarka received was a loan. The party has filed a lawsuit in
connection with the case and police have reportedly begun investigating
of their own accord.

...Mf Dnes charges collusion with ABL and Navatyp

Mlada fronta also charges an economist for Public Affairs, Radim
Vyslouzil, of arranging a contract for the ABL agency that the paper
suggests may secretly fund the junior coalition party. Under the 2009
contract with construction company Navatyp, ABL received 8.8 million
crowns for carrying out a 19-day security check. The paper, which says
it possess the contract, points to several unusual circumstances in the
contract, namely that the deal was not arranged by anyone in either the
supplier or the customer companies. In a note in the contract, Mr
Barta��s lawyer asked that ABL "at least formally fulfil the contract,"
the paper writes. His brother Matej Barta who currently owns the agency
said Thursday that the report was incorrect, noting that the cost of
the audit was actually five million and that the work took eight months.

Leadership of police anti-corruption department shuffled

The leadership of the elite anti-corruption department of the police is
to change significantly after the appointment of the section's new
chief, Tomas Martinec. According to the daily Pravo, two of the
department's deputy directors have resigned in recent days. Tomas Krul,
who handles special investigations, and economic manager Zdenek Tomica
have left their posts for other positions in the force. Two years ago,
Martinec had to leave the department due to disagreements with Mr Krul
and former chief Libor Vrba.

Health Ministry to send reforms to Parliament in early June

Health Minister Leos Heger told reporters on Thursday that he will send
three reform bills regarding services and an amendment to the public
health insurance act for their first reading in Parliament in early
June. Among other things, the proposals include a 200 crown patient fee
for outpatient care without a doctor's recommendation, and fees of 90
crowns when visiting a doctor with which one is not registered. As
opposed to current practice, the fees are intended to go towards the
public health insurance system, meaning that health insurers would pay
that amount less for care.

Israeli PM Netanyahu arrives in Prague on Thursday

Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Prague Thursday afternoon for the
historic first visit of an Israeli prime minister to the Czech
Republic. On Thursday evening Mr Netanyahu will be meets with his
counterpart Petr Necas to discuss economic and scientific cooperation
between the two countries, as well as the situation in North Africa and
the Middle East peace process. On Friday, the two-time Israeli PM and
Likud party chairman will be received by President Vaclav Klaus. The
Czech Republic is generally considered one of Israel's major allies in
the EU. Nonetheless, as least one civic association against the Israeli
treatment of Palestinians is marking the visit with a series of
protests throughout the week. Police have prepared top-level security
measures for the two-day visit.

Ombudsman sends curtailed list of recommendations to Parliament

Ombudsman Pavel Varvarovsky, the public law investigator, has given
parliamentarians a list of eight laws and regulations that he urges be
amended. The amendments involve severance pay, annuities for orphans
and the treatment of inmates in psychiatric wards, amongst others. The
ombudsman reduced the number of proposals to those he considered most
essential. Mr Varvarovsky's approach to pursuing legislation differs
from that of his predecessor, the late Otakar Motejl, who gave
Parliament two to three times more recommendations annually but saw few
of them enacted. The new ombudsman has said he will introduce fewer
proposals, but insist on their ratification all the more.

Sex survey suggests people are unwilling to resolve sexual disorders

A survey on sexuality conducted by the STEM/MARK agency suggests that
almost 87% of relationships are complicated by sexual disorders,
however only 16% of partners discuss and resolve the problem. 37%
reportedly discuss the problems but do not consult a doctor. Such
disorders for the most part reside in impotence. The survey of men and
women aged 35 to 65 also reported that every third Czech man and 30% of
women had had sex in the workplace, most often with a colleague, less
often with their superiors. 67% of men and 76% of women said they had
their first sexual encounter between the ages of 15 and 19.

Demonstrators protest government reforms in Brno

Some 500 people have gathered at Moravske namesti in Brno to protest
the government's reform plans. The demonstrations were organised by
nine organisations, among them the umbrella confederation of trade
unions. Speakers complained that the government has tried to present
the reforms as the only possible way to save the country from IMF
creditors, that the reforms will lower the standard of living for most
and particularly pension reform, which some see as putting tens of
billions of public money into private funds.

Son of former Prague mayor Bem has arm amputated

The 20-year-old son of former Prague mayor Pavel Bem has had to undergo
surgery to amputate part of his right arm after an accident several
weeks ago. The young man suffered severe damage to both hands after
falling from a statue in Prague city centre in the early hours of the
morning. A part of the statue had broken off and landed on him. Doctors
at a specialised plastic surgery department in Vinohrady were able to
save his other hand.


Temperatures of 25o Celsius have broken records around the country on
Thursday. Conditions over the coming days though are expected to be
partly cloudy with daytime highs between 14 and 17o Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Scandal within junior coalition member Public Affairs shakes government

Corruption allegations against the junior member of the governing
coalition, Public Affairs, are threatening to further unbalance a
government that has seen its share of scandals over the past months.
Public Affairs' deputy chairman Jaroslav Skarka was dismissed from the
self-styled anti-corruption party on Tuesday, after his claims that he
was getting paid to ensure his silence on the party's financial
dealings became public. His allegations against party leader and
transport minister Vit Barta have unfurled speculation whether or not
the government can weather the storm - or has to think of an
alternative coalition scenario.

Modest rally outside Syrian embassy in Prague calls for reforms, end of

Some two dozen members of the Syrian community in the Czech Republic
staged a modest rally on Wednesday in front the country's embassy in
Prague. In the second such protest held in the Czech capital, they
supported demands voiced by protesters across Syria, and called on the
government to stop the violence against its people.

New tome captures genius of pioneer of Cubist architecture Josef Gocar

In Prague's Old Town, on the corner of Celetna Street and Ovocny trh,
you will find the House of the Black Madonna, one of the most
distinctive structures in a city known for its unparalleled mix of
architectural styles. It was the first building in the rare Cubist
style of architecture strongly associated with the city, and today
houses a Cubist museum.

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