Wednesday, May 11, 2011

News 5.11.2011

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

News Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

By: Christian Falvey

* Public Affairs chairman Radek John has resigned his new government
post as anti-corruption tsar.

* Ex-transport minister Vit Barta has dropped out of the race to chair
Public Affairs, saying the party should rally behind Mr John.

* Civic Democrats have replaced the head of their parliamentary club,
embattled MP Petr Tluchor

* The Chamber of Deputies has approved the government's 'minor pension
reform' bill.

Press: John resigns new post as anti-corruption tsar

Public Affairs chairman Radek John has resigned his new government post
as anti-corruption tsar. Mr John told the Czech Press Agency Wednesday
afternoon that he does not sense any tangible support for his position
within the government. The junior coalition party chairman has been at
odds with the Prime Minister in recent weeks over the personnel makeup
of his office. Mr Necas rejected the possibility of certain individuals
serving under Mr John, namely his former deputy minister Michal Moroz
due to his ties to the security agency ABL. Mr John was offered the
anti-corruption portfolio as part of the resolution to the recent
coalition crisis. In the wake of a corruption scandal involving top
members of Public Affairs and the affiliated detective agency ABL, he
was dismissed as Interior Minister for poor performance.

Political leaders respond to John's resignation

After announcing his resignation, Radek John asked for a meeting with
President Vaclav Klaus in order to explain his position. Speaking to
the press beforehand, Mr Klaus said that the government is in a fragile
situation where the slightest change is worrying. Prime Minister Necas
told the press he was not informed of Mr John's decision and had not
received his resignation. He has asked for a meeting with John, who
remains the chairman of Public Affairs. Deputy prime minister and TOP
09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg said the situation was very serious and
that a reasonable compromise would require concessions on both sides.
The chairman of the opposition Social Democratic Party called upon the
prime minister to reconsider whether the government still has a future.

Barta drops out of race for party chairmanship

Meanwhile, Public Affairs MP Vit Barta, generally considered the
party's de facto leader, has dropped out of the race to become the
party's chairman, saying the party should rally behind Radek John.
This, he said, was the only way the party could fight corruption in the
country and treachery within its ranks. Mr Barta, formerly the director
of ABL, resigned from his position in the government as Transport
Minister after being accused of bribing party MPs.

Tluchor replaced as head of Civ Dem parliamentary club

Civic Democrats have replaced the head of their parliamentary club,
embattled MP Petr Tluchor. Mr Tluchor was unable to defend his position
after being opposed by the party's chairman, Prime Minister Petr Necas.
A club election held Wednesday unexpectedly chose MP Zbynek Stanjura as
the new chairman. Petr Tluchor has been accused of tacitly
collaborating with former Public Affairs MP Kristyna Koci to
orchestrate a coup within the junior coalition party. Tluchor stood in
the vote despite the prime minister's criticism; he did not however
gain sufficient votes in any of the three rounds.

Lower house passes 'minor pension reform'

The Chamber of Deputies has approved the government's 'minor pension
reform' bill. The bill modifies the calculation of pensions for the
benefit of those with higher incomes and sets an increase of the
retirement age by two to eight months annually. The government expects
that the change will decrease the pensions of 70% of the population,
while the richest 20% will have higher rates. Earlier this year the
Constitutional Court cited the imbalance of the previous reform, which
denied higher pensions to wealthier citizens. Social Affairs Minister
Jaromir Drabek however has promised that the final amount of money
received will ultimately be the same thanks to adjustments. The bill
will now proceed to the Senate, where the opposition has a majority and
will not support the changes to the retirement age.

Court: schools under no obligation to provide vegan meals

The Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that Czech schools do not
have to cater to children whose parents do not want them to eat animal
products. In the case of a mother suing a primary school in Breclav,
the court found that schools can offer vegetarian meals if there is
interest, but that they have no obligation to use vegan products that
do not contain eggs, milk or dairy products. The school, which offers
its 600 pupils three choices of meals, said it did not have the
capacity to include a vegan meal. The court ruled that the school's
decision to allow vegan children to provide their own meals which they
would then be served at lunch was an appropriate solution that did not
damage the rights of vegans.

Police arrest suspect in string of bank robberies

Police have arrested a man they believe responsible for the robbery of
six banks around the Czech Republic. The 35-year-old from the Moravian
town of Vsetin is believed to have robbed roughly half a million crowns
from branches of Ceska Sporitelna armed with a pistol and a grenade.
The suspect was reportedly indebted and his property had been
foreclosed upon. Part of the stolen money was spent on debts and part
in casinos. He was arrested in Karlovy Vary, where he was working a
part-time construction job.

Twenty-five years for woman who attempted to kill daughter with

The Supreme Court has sentenced handed down 25 years' imprisonment to a
woman who attempted to murder her five-year-old daughter. The girl was
in grave condition after being served twice the lethal amount of
antifreeze; she survived thanks to medical care after her mother
eventually called an ambulance. The mother has not confessed to the
crime and the court found that she had planned it so as to put the
blame on a former boyfriend. The child testified that her mother had
laughed when she said her stomach hurt and told her she was going to

Brumbas saves popular chateau's bear-keeping tradition

A six-year-old male bear was transferred from Zlin zoo to Konopiste
Chateau in central Bohemia on Tuesday in order to save the chateau's
century-long bear-keeping tradition. Brumbas, an Asian black bear that
is endangered in the wild, will replace Kazimir who died in February.
Konopiste chateau, a popular tourist destination some 30 kilometres
south of Prague, has kept bears since the turn of the 20th century when
the chateau was owned by Franz Ferdinand d'Este, the then successor to
the Austrian imperial throne, whose assassination triggered World War
One in summer of 1914.

Hockey championships: Czech Republic beats USA 4:0

The Czech Republic soundly defeated the United States in the
quarterfinal round of the World Ice Hockey Championships in Slovakia.
The score was 4:0. Star forward Jaromir Jagr scored three goals for the
Czechs, one in each third; Tomas Plekanec enjoyed his fifth goal of the
tournament in the 5Oth minute. The Americans now leave the tournament
while the Czechs will go on to Friday's semi-final against the winner
of Wednesday evening's bout between Germany and Sweden.


Currently sunny conditions are expected to give way to partly cloudy
skies over the coming days with a chance of showers and highs of around
23o Celsius.

Articles posted on today

John departure renews pressure on already strained government

Only a month after the Czech government balanced on the edge of
collapse, the coalition led by Prime Minister Petr Necas was hit by
another bombshell: the announcement on Wednesday by the deputy prime
minister and only recently-named anti-corruption tsar Radek John that
he was leaving the cabinet. Angered by the prime minister's
interference in personnel choices at his office, the Public Affairs
party head made clear he had had enough. His resignation could now
easily renew the crisis of just a few weeks ago.

In its fourth year, Czech Beer Festival bigger than ever

For the fourth time this year, the Prague Beer Festival kicks off in
the Czech capital. Starting Thursday, the city's residents will be able
to enjoy a tasting journey of their country's beer variety without
having to leave the capital. This year's festival, which will last 17
days, is shaping up to be bigger than ever, with more than 70 Czech
beers on offer and nearly 200,000 visitors expected to attend. Jan
Hubner, the main organizer behind the Czech Beer Festival, explains
what exactly thirsty beer fans can look forward to.

The Prague Beer Museum - a pub with a mission

In recent years, beers from smaller breweries have grown in popularity
in the Czech Republic - a trend that is finally being reflected in
Prague's pubs, where for a long time, the big brands enjoyed a virtual
monopoly. Fortunately, it is becoming easier to find microbrews on
offer in the capital. One pub that pours beers from all over the Czech
Republic and is a bit of a living museum is the aptly named Prague Beer
Museum, located right in the center of Prague.

This e-mail is sent to you automatically according to the settings you
chose at To change the settings, click
here. (C) 2011, Radio Prague - the international service of Czech Radio,
all rights reserved., E-mail: