Friday, November 18, 2011

News 11.18.2011

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

News Friday, November 18th, 2011

By: Christian Falvey

* President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed a bill introducing criminal
liability for companies.

* Austria will return Czech artwork that was seized due legal disputes
with the company Diag Human.

* The Czech Republic has claimed 12 billion crowns frozen on Swiss
accounts due to suspected fraud.

* Police arrested far-right demonstrators during Thursday's national

* Four paintings by the early Cubist painter Emil Filla have been
stolen from the Peruc Chateau in Northern Bohemia.

Klaus vetoes bill on criminal liability for firms

President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed a bill introducing criminal liability
for companies. The Czech centre-right government considers the bill an
important tool in curbing corruption. However, Mr Klaus maintains that
the legislation ignores the link between a crime and its perpetrators,
and is an example of shirking responsibility, adding that the bill was
part of a fashionable trend to criminalize corporations. Justice
Minister Jiri Pospisil rejected Mr Klaus' claims, and said he hoped
coalition MPs will overturn the presidential veto when the bill returns
to Parliament. The Czech Republic is the only EU member state without
such legislation.

Austria to return seized artworks after new court decision

An Austrian appeals court has rejected a motion to retain confiscated
artwork belonging to the Czech state that was seized due to legal
disputes with the company Diag Human. The decision overturns a Viennese
district court verdict from May of this year, based upon which several
paintings and sculptures that were on loan to an Austrian gallery were
seized because of the blood-plasma company's multimillion damages claim
against the Czech state, which it says upset its business activities in
the 1990s. The artworks should now be returned to the Czech Republic.

Czech Republic claims 12 billion crowns frozen on Swiss accounts

The Czech Republic has claimed 12 billion crowns from the privatisation
of the coalmining company Mostecka uhelna which have been frozen on
Swiss bank accounts due to suspected fraud and money-laundering. The
country recently missed a deadline to confirm participation in Swiss
judicial proceedings regarding the money. Prime Minister Petr Necas
told reporters on Friday that there are several possible ways of
claiming the money, which will be analysed by the state prosecutor; the
state will meanwhile be hiring legal representation in Switzerland.
Switzerland began a probe into the case in 2005 on suspicion that the
company's directors were embezzling huge sums of money, some of which
were allegedly being transferred to Swiss accounts within an extensive
money-laundering scheme.

Police make 17 arrests at far-right demonstrations

Police arrested 17 people at demonstrations of right-wing extremist
groups on Thursday's national holiday. Ten people out of a group of
about 50 were detained after a demonstration of the Workers' Party for
Social Justice )the successor of the banned neo-Nazi Workers' Party)
when they attempted to cross the river where an opposing demonstration
was taking place and were deterred by police. A group of young people
then began throwing fireworks at officers. Seven other people were
arrested during the demonstration itself for possession of fireworks.
No problems were reported at the day's main protests, a demonstration
of some 2,000 people against the current centre-right government and
its reform plans. November 17 marked 22 years since the beginning of
the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, which brought down the
country's Communist regime.

Four Filla paintings stolen from chateau

Four paintings by the early Cubist painter Emil Filla were stolen from
the Peruc Chateau in Northern Bohemia, apparently on Thursday night.
Police put the value of the reportedly the uninsured paintings at tens
of millions of crowns, but have declined to provide any specific
information as an investigation is underway. The chateau, where the
Czech avant-garde artist lived after WWII, was sold five years ago,
along with its gallery, to British buyers, who the local mayor says
provided good security. The work of Emil Filla is among the most
expensive auctioned in the Czech Republic, with one painting sold last
year for over 16 million crowns.

OECD confirms poor economic outlook for 2012

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development is the latest
institution to confirm a poor economic outlook for the Czech Republic
in 2012. The OECD estimates a drop in growth next year to 1.6% compared
to this year's 2.1. The organisation's report does however say the
Czech economy is stable and successful and commends the current reform
plans. In the spring, the OECD predicted Czech economic growth of 2.4%
this year and 3.5% in the next. Its revised estimate remains more
optimistic than those of the Czech National Bank, the Ministry of
Finance and the European Commission.

Poll: Czechs believe their international esteem is decreasing

Nearly two-thirds of Czechs believe the country's international esteem
is decreasing, according to an October poll published by the STEM
agency. The polling agency says that opinion, held by 62% of
respondents, is the most negative attitude towards the country's
international reputation yet recorded. Nonetheless, more than half of
those questioned said that the Czech Republic's foreign policy is
essentially good. Those most critical of Czech foreign policy,
according to the poll, were left-wing voters, particularly Communist
Party sympathisers. Those most optimistic about the country's prestige
abroad favoured the senior government party, the Civic Democrats.

Public has highest opinion of Slovaks and Swedes, says survey

The same poll also gauged Czechs' attitudes towards various other
nations. According to STEM, the results show very high opinions of
Slovakia and Sweden, followed by more Western European countries,
Holland, France, Denmark Great Britain, Belgium and Austria. The
countries were graded as in school and respondents overall gave failing
grades to Serbia, Russia, Ukraine and China. Roughly half of those
questioned gave positive marks to the United States. Compared with the
same results from last year, the agency says that opinions of most
countries worsened, with the notable exception of Japan, which suffered
a catastrophic earthquake this year.

Smog situation slowly improving

Smog conditions in the Czech Republic have improved slightly over the
last two days, though pollution levels continue to exceed permissible
limits, namely in the regions of Moravia-Silesia and Southern Moravia.
Dust levels in the worst affected areas, previously four times the
permissible norm of 50 micrograms per cubic metre, fell to around 87 on
Thursday. The situation has lasted more than two weeks in some parts of
the country, with traffic and industrial manufacturing restricted and
children and the elderly advised to stay indoors as much as possible.

NHL action: Martin Erat scores two for Predators

Czech hockey player Martin Erat, back from injury, has shown fine form
in recent matches including the Nashville Predators match-up on
Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The player scored two goals
in his team's 4:1 win, and was named the game's first star. In other
action, Ottawa forward Milan Michalek notched up one goal and one
assist in a 5:2 win over Edmonton, while the Montreal Canadiens' Tomas
Plekanec earned two assists against the Islanders. However, the Habs
were narrowly defeated 4:3.


Conditions over the coming days are expected to be partly cloudy with
daytime highs between 3 and 7o Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Anniversary of Velvet Revolution marked by anti-government

On Thursday, November 17th, the Czech Republic marked 22 years since
the start of the Velvet Revolution as well as the 72nd anniversary of
the events of November 1939 which resulted in the closure of all Czech
universities by the Nazis and reprisals against students and
intellectuals. But many Czechs used the holiday to voice their
discontent with the current government policies.

Business News 18.11.2011

In Business News this week: the economy slows down suggesting even
bleaker outlooks; the Czech crown loses its lustre for investors; Czech
banks lose billions in the Greek debt crisis; President Klaus vetoes a
bill introducing criminal liability for corporations; firms
increasingly introduce loyalty programmes to keep customers; and Czech
Post will launch "great parcel revolution".

Museum of Communism offers foreign visitors a glimpse of life behind
the Iron Curtain

On Prague's Na Prikope street, in the very heart of the city -right
next to McDonalds - is a Museum of Communism. What comes as a surprise
to many locals and foreign visitors is that this private venture is the
work of an American businessman who owns a number of bars and
restaurants in the Czech capital. Glenn Spicker came to Prague 17 years
ago, on a wave of interest in the post communist world. Unlike others
he launched a successful business venture and stayed. As Glenn gave me
a tour of the museum, he explained what made him branch out so far from
his field of enterprise.

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