Friday, May 13, 2011

News 5.13.2011

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

News Friday, May 13th, 2011

By: Daniela Lazarova

* Ukraine has expelled two Czech diplomats amidst allegations of spying.

* Former transport minister Vit Barta has apologized to President Klaus
for the manner in which he spoke about him on a secretly recorded tape.

* Former president Vaclav Havel has asked not to have his name dragged
through the mud in political infighting.

* Deputy prime minister Radek John has said he will hand his
resignation to the prime minister on Tuesday.

* A flight commemorating Czech aviator Jan Kaspar's journey from
Pardubice to Prague a century ago had to be cancelled due to bad

Ukraine expels two Czech diplomats

Ukraine on Friday expelled two Czech diplomats amidst allegations of
spying. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said two staff members of the
Czech military attache's office had been declared personae non gratae
in the former Soviet republic. The foreign ministry said a strongly
worded protest was sent to the Czech ambassador over the expelled
diplomats' use of diplomatic status to gather information that is a
state secret in Ukraine. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg
said in reaction to the news that he believed the move was made in
retaliation for Prague's decision earlier this year to award asylum to
Ukraine's former economy minister Bogdan Danylyshyn, who has been
charged with abuse of power.

Barta apologizes to Klaus

Former transport minister and de-facto leader of the junior Public
Affairs Party Vit Barta has apologized to President Vaclav Klaus for
the manner in which he spoke about him on a secretly recorded tape
which was leaked to the press this week. On the tape, made during an
informal meeting of the party leadership, Barta boasts of his influence
over president Klaus, saying he can make him do anything he wants and
that Mr. Klaus' door is always open to him. The former president Vaclav
Havel is also mentioned with Barta saying that that particular sphere
of influence is covered by former journalist and official party leader
Radek John -and that the two of them together have the ear of both the
present and former presidents. Mr. Barta said on Friday he was very
drunk on the given occasion and had grossly exaggerated in order to
impress the party.

Klaus, Havel react to tape

Both the current and former presidents have reacted to the recording.
President Klaus said there was no need to respond to empty boasting,
noting that he was far more concerned about the fact that a secretly
recorded tape was once again an instrument in political warfare. The
former head of state Vaclav Havel has asked not to have his name
dragged through the mud in party infighting. Mr. Havel's assistant said
the former president was not in any way involved in present day
politics, made no attempt to interfere in political life and that his
occasional contacts with Radek John were restricted to social occasions.

Radek John to meet with the prime minister on Tuesday

Deputy prime minister Radek John has said he will hand his resignation
to the prime minister in person on Tuesday. Mr. John who heads the
junior coalition party Public Affairs and was to have led a newly
established anti-corruption team in the Necas government, announced
earlier this week that he was leaving the cabinet because he felt a
lack of support from the prime minister. The two men recently clashed
over who should be on the said team. After meeting with Radek John to
discuss his decision President Klaus said on Friday that he thought Mr.
John could be persuaded to change his mind. Prime Minister Necas has
had to cancel most of his engagements over the past two days after
undergoing eye surgery.

Parent gets suspended sentence for insulting teachers

A judge in Teplice has served a parent a ten-month suspended sentence
for publicly insulting teachers at a local primary school and ordered
the offender to apologize. Teachers around the country see the verdict
as an important precedent in helping to restore respect in the teaching
profession. The man, who had previously been in trouble with the law,
lost his temper when he was not able to enter the school building and
shouted vulgarities about people in the teaching profession as children
streamed out of their classrooms. The judge said that it was
unacceptable for anyone to undermine the authority of teachers in this

Trade unions protest reforms

Trade union leaders are expected to make public the details of an open
letter to the prime minister slamming the government's reforms. The CTK
news agency says the letter, sent on Thursday, contains harsh criticism
of the government's pension and health reform bills. It was sent ahead
of a tripartite meeting between trade unions, government
representatives and employers due to take place next Friday. Trade
unions have repeatedly criticized the fact that they are either not
consulted about far-reaching reforms or that their reservations are not
taken into account. The umbrella organization of Czech and Moravian
trade unions has called a protest demonstration on Prague's Wenceslas
Square a day after the tripartite meeting saying it should be regarded
as a final warning before the launch of radical protest actions.

Commemorative Kaspar flight postponed due to bad weather

Exactly a century ago on May 13th of 1911 the first Czech aviator Jan
Kaspar flew his Bleriot plane from Pardubice to Prague - at the time
the longest flight ever undertaken in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A
commemorative flight in a replica plane scheduled to celebrate the
occasion on Friday failed to take place due to adverse weather
conditions. Pilot Petr Mara said strong wind and poor visibility had
made it impossible to take up the historic plane even for a symbolic
circle around the town. The flight is expected to take place next week.
In 1911 Kaspar flew his Bleriot at a speed of 80 kilometers per hour
covering the 120 km distance from Pardubice to Prague in 1 hour and 32

Hardy-man Ladislav Nicek dies at 97

Czech hardy-man Ladislav Nicek has died at the age of 97. Mr. Nicek was
a well-known figure in the Czech Republic and a strong advocate of a
Spartan life-style as a recipe for health and longevity. Since the
1960s he spearheaded the tradition of winter swimming and annually took
a dip in the Vltava River on January 1st together with other members of
the club.

GDP growth figures

Czech GDP grew at a seasonally adjusted pace of 0.6 percent in the
first quarter from output in the last three months of 2010, an official
estimate showed on Friday. In the last quarter of 2010, the Czech
economy, grew by 0.3 percent against the previous quarter. The annual
growth pace reached 2.5 percent in the first quarter, the Czech
Statistical Office said in its flash estimate. The bank said it
expected annual GDP growth to slow down to 1.5 percent this year "on
fiscal restriction, lower investment in inventories and slower growth
in foreign economic activity," before accelerating to 2.8 percent in

Coati on the run bites two people

A ring-tailed coati which escaped from its owner in Jicin on Thursday
is home safe but has created plenty of problems for its owner. The
animal ran into a pet shop where it found food. When the store owner
tried to call pest control the coati bit her on the leg, and
subsequently also attacked a police officer who attempted to catch it.
The police are questioning the animal's owner on suspicion of

Hockey championships: Czechs beaten by Sweden 5:2

The Czech Republic was defeated 5:2 by Sweden in Friday's semi-finals,
dashing the national team's hopes of defending its world title. The
Czechs will now play either Russia or Finland for the bronze on Sunday.


The coming days should be partly cloudy to overcast with scattered
showers and day temperatures between 12 and 17 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Business News 13.5.2011

Nice numbers across the board for Czech economy; inner-circle Sazka
critic sacked; slim pickings for fruit farmers; a new civil code brings
big changes; and fair trade is fairly profitable.

Dominik Lang's The Sleeping City to go up at 54th Venice Biennale

The 54th Venice Biennale is less than a month away and the installation
representing the Czech and Slovak arts scenes at the national pavilion
is now en route. Created by Czech artist Dominik Lang and entitled The
Sleeping City, the instalation aims to challenge international viewers
to experience, assess, or revisit on an intuitive and emotional level
recent Czechoslovak and European history, from the Cold War to today.

Political analyst Pehe: Collapse of government a possibility if junior
coalition partner walks out

On Thursday, junior coalition member Public Affairs came forward with a
list of demands for the government, threatening to walk out unless a
new anti-corruption law is passed and further personnel changes within
the cabinet are made. The step came only a day after the party's
leader, Radek John, resigned from his post of anti-corruption tsar,
which he had only recently been appointed to in an effort to quell a
government crisis. To add further fuel to the fire, a compromising tape
of a March meeting between Public Affairs' de-facto leader Vit Barta
and senior party officials appeared on the internet late on Thursday.
Political analyst Jiri Pehe speaks about those developments, beginning
with Mr John's resignation.

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