Thursday, June 16, 2011

News 6.16.2011

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

News Thursday, June 16th, 2011

By: Jan Richter

* Railway and municipal transport in the Czech Republic has come to a
near standstill due to a nationwide strike protesting government

* Prime Minister Petr Necas has vowed that his government would
continue implementing systemic reforms.

* MPs have passed a motion calling on the prime minister to dismiss
Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra over his role in a scandal related to
the country's 2009 EU presidency.

* The Czech refusal to host part of a US early warning centre is a
success for Russia's diplomacy, according to a Russian official.

Transport strike underway

Railway and municipal transportation in the Czech Republic came to a
near standstill on Thursday due to a nationwide strike protesting
government reforms. The 24-hour strike, which began at midnight
Wednesday, closed Prague's metro system for the first time ever;
however, some bus and tram routes remain in operation after the Prague
City Transit Authority reached a deal with unions to allow drivers who
wish to work to do so. Limited municipal transit is also operating in
other cities. The national railway service was completely paralysed;
the government dispatched 150 army buses and drivers to cover a small
number of routes. The strike is to end at midnight.

Strike causes no major complications as people walk, cycle to work

No major complications have been reported in Prague, Brno and other
major Czech cities on Thursday as many people cycled or walked to work
while others stayed at home or left cities ahead of time. No traffic
jams have been registered in the capital as most city streets are
unusually quiet. Prague's Ruzyne international airport is handling all
departures and arrivals according to schedule and has organized a
shuttle bus service from city centre. Hospitals in Prague are also
fully operational. Several banks closed some of the branches in the
city but most have remained open for business.

Union members march trough Prague

Around 1,000 trade union members and their supporters staged a march
through the centre of Prague on Thursday. On their way to the seat of
the government, the protestors stopped at the Finance Ministry and
threw tomatoes at Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek who came out to
talk to them. Addressing the rally, union leaders criticized the
government's reforms for being socially insensitive and for failing to
tackle corruption. The head of the transportation workers' union, Lubos
Pomajbik, said the strike was a great success as few tram and bus
drivers went to work on Thursday. Police have detained a man without a
valid ID and a woman who reportedly attacked a member of the police
anti-conflict team.

Prime minister vows to continue reforms

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas said on Thursday that his government
was ready to negotiate with the trade unions about changes to the
individual reform steps but would continue implementing systemic
reforms. Mr Necas also said the strike only caused financial losses and
increased political tension in the country, adding it was a victory for
the Czech people who coped well with the transport limitations imposed
on them by the trade unions. For their part, trade union leaders said
the strike was a great success, particularly for the employees of Czech
Railways who stopped trains across the country for the whole 24 hours.

MPs call on PM Necas to dismiss defense minister

The lower house of Parliament passed a motion on Thursday calling on
Prime Minister Petr Necas to dismiss Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra
over his role in a scandal related to the country's 2009 EU presidency.
Mr Vondra, who oversaw the organization of the presidency in his former
role as minister for EU affairs, is blamed for wasting around 350
million crowns of public money on overpriced audio-visual services. Mr
Vondra told MPs at Thursday's special session of the lower house that
he saw no "fatal failure" in the organization of the presidency. The
motion, which is not binding for the prime minister, was passed with
votes of opposition MPs. Deputies from the coalition TOP 09 and Public
Affairs parties abstained from the vote; however, they effectively
enabled the session to go ahead.

Czech refusal to host US missile defence component success of Russian
diplomacy: Russian official

The Czech government's refusal to host part of the US early warning
system is a success for Russia, the country's ambassador to NATO Dmitry
Rogozin told the news agency Interfax on Thursday. Mr Rogozin said the
Czech decision was 50 percent a result of Russian diplomacy and the
other 50 percent the result of an overall change to the planned US
system in Europe. Czech Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra announced the
decision after meeting with US Deputy Secretary of Defence William Lynn
in Prague on Wednesday; Mr Vondra said the Czech Republic would not
look for other ways to participate in the system.

Direct foreign investments in 2010 up by 16 pct

The number of direct foreign investment projects in the Czech Republic
increased last year by 16 percent, according to a survey by the
consultancy firm Ernst & Young released on Thursday. In 2010, there
were 71 such investments projects in the Czech Republic, placing the
country 14th among other European nations. Ernst & Young's Magdalena
Soucek said good infrastructure and qualified workforce continued to
attract investors. The Czech government's CzechInvest agency last year
intermediated foreign investments of around 16.2 billion crowns, mainly
in the country's manufacturing and IT sectors.

Czech model Alena Seredova marries Italian footballer Gianluigi Buffon

Czech model Alena Seredova and Italian footballer Gianluigi Buffon were
married in a Prague church on Thursdaym after a six-year relationship.
The couple was originally planning to tie the knot at St Vitus
Cathedral at Prague Castle but the transport strike forced them to
relocate the ceremony to a church in the Vysehrad neighbourhood. Ms
Seredova, who came in fourth in the 1998 Miss World pageant, met the
Juventus Torino and Italian national football team goalkeeper in 2005.
They have two sons, aged two and four.

Snake in toilet shocks newlyweds upon return from honeymoon

A newlywed couple was shocked to find a metre-long python regius in the
toilet of their home in the western city of Karlovy Vary on Thursday,
upon their return from their honeymoon, a police spokeswoman said. The
couple called the police which sent a patrol to the apartment; one of
the police officers caught the non-venomous snake, the spokeswoman
said. The reptile had reportedly gone missing from the next door
apartment a year ago; its owner apologized to the newlyweds and offered
them compensation.

Hockey: Czechs Krejci and Kaberle win Stanley Cup with Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins, with Czechs David Krejci and Tomas Kaberle, won the
Stanley Cup after beating the Vancouver Canucks 4:0 in the seventh game
of the final series on Wednesday. Defenseman Tomas Kaberle won the cup
five years after his older brother Frantisek who triumphed with the
Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. With 12 goals and 11 assists, the
25-year-old forward David Krejci became the NHL playoffs leading
scorer, as the first Czech in the league's history.


Meteorologists have warned against heavy storms that are expected to
hit most of the Czech Republic on Thursday afternoon and will continue
until Friday. Daytime highs should range between 24 and 28 degrees

Articles posted on today

Pundit: trade unions tap into public discontent with state of Czech

Thursday's trade union transport strike was the biggest anti-government
protest since the fall of communism. The prime minister argues that the
cabinet's flagging popularity with the public is the price for pushing
through painful reforms. But are the government's far-reaching reforms
the only reason for the growing public discontent? And what -if
anything - will this strike bring? In this edition of Panorama Daniela
Lazarova asked political analyst Vladimira Dvorakova for her take on

Strike arrives as unions and government fail to find consensus

After months of negotiations between the government and trade unions,
and countless demonstrations against government reform measures, the
long-feared nationwide transport strike has arrived. On Wednesday
representatives on both sides continued to seek a last-minute agreement
that might save the country from what is a very infrequent occurrence
here - the closure of the rail, bus and municipal transit services.
Despite the looming threat, both the government and the unions appeared
almost unwilling to budge even hours before the strike began. Christian
Falvey has more.

Public mostly in support of transport union protest against government

While Czechs in the big cities struggled to get to work on Thursday,
union leaders gathered some 1000 demonstrators in the center of Prague.
Sympathizers with the trade union cause joined them in a protest march
through the town.

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