Tuesday, October 18, 2011

News 10.18.2011

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

News Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

By: Jan Richter

* President Vaclav Klaus has strongly rejected allegations that the
system of presidential pardons is corrupt.

* The Czech Republic should only adopt the euro in a referendum,
according to Prime Minister Petr Necas.

* The ruling coalition have agreed on how gambling will be taxed as of
January 2012.

* The town of Karlovy Vary has been asked to pay off bonds issued in
1924 that are now worth ten billion crowns.

* Czech football international Martin Fenin has announced he will seek
treatment for abuse of antidepressant drugs.

President Klaus rejects corrupt pardons allegations

Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Tuesday strongly denied allegations
that the system of granting presidential pardons was corrupt. Mr Klaus
told reporters the allegations were "devastating"; corruption could not
have been involved in the process, the president says, as it did not
allow for any outside interference. The president also said he was
angry with the weekly Respekt that broke the story; Mr Klaus labelled
the publication as "criminal".

The weekly reported on Monday the case of a former police officer who
had been sentenced to jail on corruption charges; the policewoman told
two witnesses a pardon "had been bought" for her, and she later
received a pardon from President Vaclav Klaus.

Coalition TOP 09 party suggest changes to presidential pardons

In the light of the corruption allegations, the coalition TOP 09 party
on Tuesday voiced a proposal to change the system of presidential
pardons. TOP 09 MPs said any pardon by the president should in the
future be confirmed by another official body, either the government or
one of its ministers. The lower house should debate these proposals
when it comes to dealing with an amendment to the constitution
regarding direct presidential elections.

PN Necas: euro should be adopted in referendum

The Czech Republic should only adopt the euro if it is approved in a
referendum, Prime Minister Petr Necas told reporters after meeting
Czech MEPs in Brussels on Tuesday. Mr Necas said that since the Czech
Republic joined the EU in 2004, the eurozone has undergone a
transformation into a transfer and debt union. The Czech Republic has
no set benchmark for the adoption of the single European currency;
however, the country is bound by its EU accession treaty to adopt the
euro as soon as it meets all the criteria.

Justice Minister: thwarted prison mutiny not the work of the Berdych

Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil on Tuesday denied claims that a thwarted
mutiny in a number of Czech prisons last week was hatched by jailed
members of the Berdych gang, the largest organized crime ring to go on
trial in the country's modern history. Mr. Pospisil told the CTK news
agency that the speculation surrounding the alleged role of the Berdych
gang in the mutiny was unsubstantiated. He also rejected claims that
the mutiny was uncovered by the country's counter intelligence service.

Czech media reported on Monday the country's prison service had managed
to prevent the biggest ever prison mutiny in the country's history.
Officials have confirmed that a mutiny was being planned in a number of
prisons and that crude, hand-made weapons were found and confiscated
from several dozen prisoners.

Coalition agrees on gambling taxation

The ruling coalition agreed on Tuesday on how gambling will be taxed as
of January 2012, clearing one of the sensitive parts of the
government's fiscal reform. The parties agreed that the Finance
Ministry will prepare a new bill that will impose a corporate tax of 19
percent will on lottery firms whose turnover will also be subject to a
20 percent tax; the firms will also pay 20,000 crowns for each gambling
machine. Part of the funds levied by the new tax will go directly to

Police investigate finance minister over corruption in allowing online

The anti-corruption unit of Czech police is investigating Finance
Minister Miroslav Kalousek over alleged corruption in allowing online
betting, the daily Pravo reported on Tuesday. The police are looking
into allegations that Mr Kalousek, as finance minister for the
Christian Democrats, in 2008 received several million crowns from the
financial group Penta in return for allowing on-line gambling. Both Mr
Kalousek, now a minister for the TOP 09 party, and a spokesman for the
Penta group have denied the allegations,. The police revealed no
further details of the investigation.

Karlovy Vary asked to pay off pre-WWII bonds

The town of Karlovy Vary, in the west of the country, has been asked to
pay off bonds issued in 1924 that are now worth around 10 billion
crowns, or nearly 550 million US dollars, a spokesman for the local
town hall said on Tuesday. The request was filed by the controversial
US lawyer Edward Fagan on behalf of the bonds' owners. Karlovy Vary
Mayor Petr Kulhanek is to meet Mr Fagan on Thursday to discuss the
issue. The Czech National Bank has confirmed the existence of the bonds
while the Finance Ministry said it needed more time to study the case.

Karlovy Vary, then known as Carlsbad, issued the bonds in 1924; their
maturity was set at 30 years. Its German-speaking inhabitants were
however expelled after the war, and the town was repopulated by Czechs.

Prague's Blanka tunnel costs to be 28 pct higher than originally

The construction of Prague's controversial Blanka road tunnel will cost
at least 36 billion crowns, or more than 1.9 billion US dollars, Prague
Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda said on Tuesday. That is some 28 percent higher
than the originally estimated costs of 28 billion crowns. The tunnel
complex, which should channel through traffic away from the city
centre, should be completed in 2014.

The project of the Blanka tunnel has repeatedly come under criticism as
overpriced, and also due to lack of transparency when handing out
construction work. The tunnel has also collapsed on several occasions,
creating large craters in the city's Stromovka park.

More goods stolen from Czech shops this year

Czechs again top the list of Europe's biggest shoplifters, according to
data released by the UK agency Centre for Retail Research on Tuesday.
The survey suggests that goods worth around 9.6 billion crowns have
been stolen or lost in Czech shops this year, which is an increase of
nearly 18 percent compared to last year. Shoplifting together with
thefts by employees accounted for 1.53 percent of total retail sales,
compared to 1.4 percent last year. The research shows that alcohol,
cosmetics and electronics are among the items stolen most frequently.

Dozens in Prague protest plans of airport extension

Dozens of people on Tuesday protested plans to extend a local airstrip
in Vodochody outside Prague into a new international airport. The
protesters gathered outside the seat of the Central Bohemian regional
administration, voicing their concerns about the possible negative
impacts of the construction project. At the same time, some ten people
showed up in support of the plan.

The region's administration recently approved the extension, pursued by
the financial group Penta. When completed, the new international
airport, second to Prague's Ruzyne, should serve up to 3.5 million
passengers a year. However, the plans are strongly opposed by
surrounding municipalities.

Football: striker Martin Fenin to seek treatment for antidepressants

Czech football international Martin Fenin, currently a striker for FC
Cottbus in the second German division, announced on Tuesday he was
putting his career on hold to seek treatment for abuse of
antidepressant drugs. His problems took a dramatic turn on Saturday
when the 24-year-old footballer was hospitalized with haemorrhage;
according to media speculation, he fell out of the window of his
second-floor apartment after mixing medication with alcohol.

Martin Fenin moved from the Czech club Teplice to Germany's top
division Eintracht Franfkurt in 2008. He earned a spot on the national
team but his career recently took a turn for the worse and he moved to
FC Cottbus earlier this season.

Football: Slavia lose first match under Straka

Football livewire Frantisek Straka got a disappointing result on Monday
in his first match since taking over as manager of Slavia Prague which
lost 1:0 to city rivals Viktoria Zizkov. Earlier in the day some 200
fans protested against his taking over the team, citing his brief
tenure as head coach with archrivals Sparta Prague. Mr Straka, who also
managed the national squad for just one game in 2009, was a favourite
with Sparta fans but Slavia and Sparta have a rivalry that goes back


The current spell of sunny conditions will be replaced by wet and rainy
weather by mid week, with the highest daytime temperatures ranging
between 8 and 12 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

Jana Horakova-Kansky - still proud of mother's "enormous courage"

In Czechs in History this week, we speak to Jana Horakova-Kansky,
daughter of one of Czechoslovakia's best known victims of Communist-era
oppression, the democratic MP and wartime resistance hero Milada
Horakova. Jana, Milada Horakova's only child, was just a teenager when
her mother was executed on trumped up charges of treason and espionage
in a 1950 show trial. Her father - who was also targeted by the
Communist regime - made a daring escape from Czechoslovakia shortly
afterwards, leaving Jana in the care of relatives. For years she was
denied the opportunity to study, finally finding work as a dental
technician. In 1968 she emigrated to the United States, where she's
lived ever since.


Prison mutiny thwarted

It has emerged that police and prison guards last week thwarted the
biggest ever prison mutiny in the country's history. The plot was
allegedly hatched by jailed members of the Berdych gang -the largest
organized crime ring in the Czech Republic with links to former elite
police officers and is said to have involved dozens of prisoners in
jailhouses around the country.


Korean ambassador on bilateral ties, investment opportunities and
culinary experiences

In the coming weeks, people in Prague will have a unique opportunity to
sample traditional dishes and delicacies from South Korea - thanks to
an event organized by the country's embassy. At its launch in a Prague
hotel, Radio Prague spoke to the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to
the Czech Republic Gabriel OH and first asked him whether Czechs have
many opportunities to try Korean food in restaurants or buy the
necessary ingredients.


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