Friday, May 6, 2011

News 5.6.2011

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

News Friday, May 6th, 2011

By: Christian Falvey

* The lower house of the Czech Parliament has passed an amendment
relaxing the so-called "muzzle law".

* The director of the Sumava National Park has admitted ordering the
use of prohibited insecticides to fight bark-beetle infestation.

* Anti-corruption police have begun a bribery investigation into the
1999 sale of the MUS coal-mining company, according to the daily Mlada
fronta Dnes.

* A baby elephant, the first to be born in the Czech Republic, died on
Friday morning in the Ostrava Zoo.

MPs approve relaxation of "muzzle law"

The lower house of the Czech Parliament has passed a bill relaxing the
so-called muzzle law, which restricts the publication of information
about individuals involved in criminal investigations. The amendment,
proposed by the government, would allow the media to publish
information from investigations if they believe public interest
outweighs the protection of privacy. According to the Ministry of
Justice, such cases could include recordings of politicians that
suggest they have broken the law. If approved by the Senate and
ratified by the president the new exemptions will take effect this year.

Chamber of Deputies passes non-property damages for victims of violent

Another government-sponsored bill passed by the Chamber of Deputies on
Friday enables victims of violent crime to demand compensation for
non-property damages. If signed into law, the amendment would allow
courts to assess such damages based upon the amount demanded by victims
and the evidence they provide. At present, courts may only assess
damages based on material damages that can be expressed monetarily,
otherwise they must sue for personal damages separately, an option not
frequently used.

Sumava Park director ordered use of prohibited insecticides

The director of the Sumava National Park has admitted ordering the use
of powerful, prohibited insecticides in the park. In a statement sent
to the Czech Press Agency, Director Jan Strasky writes that he ordered
a combination of all effective means to combat the bark-beetle
infestation, in spite of the fact that the requested exemption for the
use of the pesticides had not yet been allowed. The Environmental
organization Friends of the Earth alerted the authorities to the
problem on Thursday, highlighting the danger to other insects as well
as to the frogs and birds that feed on them. The Czech Inspectorate for
Environmental Protection says the park management may receive a fine of
up to one million crowns.

Bill allowing EU citizens to buy land passes

A government bill allowing foreigners to purchase residential real
estate and land in the Czech Republic has been passed by the lower
house of Parliament. The prohibition was an exemption that the country
demanded upon acceding to the EU and expires this May. Foreign
companies based in the Czech Republic and others however have long been
availing themselves of legal loopholes and currently own land in the
tens of thousands of hectares.

MF Dnes: Police launch investigation into sale of MUS coal-mining

Anti-corruption police have begun a bribery investigation into the 1999
sale of the MUS coal-mining company, according to the daily Mlada
fronta Dnes. The state prosecutor's office in Switzerland has been
investigating related transactions for several years and is preparing
an indictment. According to Mlada fronta, the police are investigating
former deputy commerce minister Robert Sykora, as well as others close
to former Social Democrat prime minister Stanislav Gross.

Slavia Prague match abandoned after fans storm pitch

Fans of Slavia Prague stormed the pitch during a national cup
semi-final on Thursday to protest against the club leadership, forcing
an early end to the match. The fans were demanding an end to unclear
ownership and financial dealings at the oldest Czech club, who have
suffered heavy debts and have lost their first division licence for
next season. Some 1,500 fans clashed with riot police, damaged
equipment at Slavia's new Prague stadium and tried to attack club
director Miroslav Platil. The club could face a 3-0 walkover loss for
the incident.

Six arrested for large-scale tax evasion

Police are investigating six people in Moravia who they believe are
guilty of tax evasion in the amount of 420 million crowns. According to
police, the suspects were intentionally evading payment of value added
tax on deals in mineral oils used to produce gasoline in 2009. They
were arrested after police raids in five cities uncovered large amounts
of evidence. If found guilty they face up to ten years' imprisonment.

Press: selection committee recommends general director for National

A selection committee seeking a new general director of the National
Gallery has recommended economist Vladimir Rosel to the post, the Czech
Press Agency reports. The final decision will rest on Minister of
Culture Jiri Besser, who received the ten-member committee's proposal
on Friday morning; a decision on who is to run the institution is
expected in the coming days. The committee has reportedly weighed five
candidates to replace the outgoing director, well-known public figure
Milan Knizak, among them art historian Jiri Fajt and the director of
the Moravian Gallery Marek Pokorny. The new director of the National
Gallery is to be named by June 1.

Czech Press Agency: Public Affairs to vote for chairman in two weeks'

The junior coalition party, Public Affairs, will elect a chairman in
roughly two weeks. Citing anonymous sources close to the party's club
of deputies, the Czech Press Agency writes that the party will announce
a winner on Monday, May 23. Some 20,000 registered party members will
cast their ballot online for the second time in the party's history. In
addition to the current chairman Radek John, four others will be vying
for the position, including frontrunners Vit Barta, considered the
party's de facto leader, and head of the club of deputies Karolina

Baby elephant dies in Ostrava Zoo

A baby elephant, the first to be born in the Czech Republic, died on
Friday morning in the Ostrava Zoo. The Asian Elephant was born
prematurely on March 11 and was sickly and did not gain weight; its
young and inexperienced mother had attacked it soon after its birth but
had become an exemplary mother by the time of its death, the zoo says.
A second elephant, born a month later, is in good health and is growing
quickly. Zoo workers say it was an invaluable experience for the
mother, which had never had the chance to learn how to raise a calf
from others, and can expect as many as ten more in her life.


The coming days are expected to be clear with daytime temperatures of
around 18 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Business News 6.5.2011

In Business News: importer RWE Transgas to try and renegotiate
disadvantageous contract with Russian gas supplier; the Czech National
Bank revises growth numbers downwards; new scientific facilities in the
Czech Republic to see 14 billion crowns in European funds; Czech
exporters unsatisfied with ministry plans to extend existing support

Laco Deczi - Jazz and real life in Prague and New York

American jazz trumpet player Laco Deczi - born in Czechoslovakia -
needs little introduction, especially for anyone familiar with the
world of jazz. At 73, Deczi hasn't let up one bit - most recently
playing a month-long tour in his homeland. Despite a busy schedule,
Laco took time off to come to Radio Prague' studio; in this week's Arts
he discusses everything from life in New York to his spring tour.

New documentary opens up sensitive chapter in country's post-war history

In the run-up to the 66th anniversary of the end of WWII Czech public
television featured a documentary throwing more light on events that
have received little publicity in the past - the atrocities committed
on German civilians in post-war Czechoslovakia. The subject has been
avoided for years, but film director David Vondracek says Czechs need
to hear about what happened and face up to events they may not be proud

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