Tuesday, February 28, 2012

News 2.28.2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

By: Jan Velinger

* The Czech Republic has expressed disatisfaction and concern over a
Ukrainian court ruling sentencing a former interior minister - who
served in Yulia Tymoshenko's cabinet - to four years in prison.

* Prime Minister Petr Necas has said that his education minister's
concession on college tuition is only one of several alternatives.

* Deputy Prime Minister Karolina Peake, of Public Affairs, has said her
party is hoping for "constructive negotiations" with fellow partners in
government on the issue of the VAT rate and other reforms.

* The opposition Social Democrats have said they will push for a
no-confidence vote on the government over planned austerity measures.

* A Czech news website has reported that two men who accompanied former
chief Prague prosecutor Stanislav Mecl into the office of a deputy
attorney on the night of February 17 were police officers.

Czech Republic expresses concern over Lutsenko ruling

The Czech Republic has expressed strong disatisfaction with a Ukrainian
court ruling sentencing a former interior minister - who served in
former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko's cabinet - to four years in
prison (minus time already served). On Monday, the court sentenced Yuri
Lutsenko for alleged embezzlement and abuse of office; his former boss,
Mrs Tymoshenko, is serving a seven-year sentence for alleged abuse of
office. The Czech Foreign Ministry on Tuesday expressed concern over
the ruling, saying that Mr Lutsenko's trial, like that of his former
boss, was far-removed from European standards and principles regarding
human rights. The European Union as well as the United States had
already condemned Mr Lutsenko's trial as well as the imprisonment of
Mrs Tymoshenko, calling them politically motivated. Mrs Tymoshenko's
husband, Oleksandr, and her former economy minister, Bohdan Danylyshyn,
have both been granted asylum in the Czech Republic.

Necas: concession on college tuition one of several alternatives

Prime Minister Petr Necas has said that his education minister's
concession on college tuition is only one of several alternatives. He
added that it would not be possible to begin private funding of the
higher education system in this electoral term. The introduction of
college tuition has been one of the government's policy priorities, but
Education Minister Josef Dobes backed down from it on Monday amid
fierce criticism and protests, suggesting that fees be raised on
secondary and extended college programmes instead. Under the new
proposal, the standard length of study would be covered by the state.
Fees for those who study multiple college programmes would increase by
ten times, up to 26,000 crowns per year. The original plan called for
tuition of up to 10,000 crowns per semester, with the option of student
loans. Mr Necas said that promoting that option without a complicated
legislative process has long been discussed.

Peake: Public Affairs to push for constructive talks

Deputy Prime Minister Karolina Peake of Public Affairs, the smallest
party in government, has said her party is hoping for "constructive
negotiations" with fellow partners TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats. She
added that her party was putting forward no ultimatums. The party
deputy leader outlined that Public Affairs is against the planned
unification of the VAT rate at 20 percent as well as a complete freeze
on pensions proposed by the finance minister in the aim of slashing the
deficit. The party, she said, was also against the cutting of maternity
benefits and against planned budget cuts at the Education Ministry
(which is led by Public Affairs colleague Josef Dobes). The deputy
leader said members welcomed the possibility of a progressive tax rate
being applied to high-income earners. The country's centre-right
government is looking for ways to slash debt in the face of meagre
economic growth expected in the coming years.

Social Democrats to initiate no-confidence vote

The opposition Social Democrats want to initiate a vote of
no-confidence on the government in the Chamber of Deputies, over
additional austerity plans to slash the growing budget deficit, the
party's chairman Bohuslav Sobotka said on Tuesday. Mr Sobotka charged
that the current centre-right coalition government (the Civic
Democrats, TOP 09 and Public Affairs) was incapable of handling the
task: economic ministers agreed on Monday to save state expenditures by
increasing the VAT to a unified rate, and on a income tax levied
towards the wealthy as well as limiting pension indexation.

The Social Democrat leadership has made clear it will try and call an
extraordinary session for a vote of no-confidence in March; but, the
leftist opposition does not command a sufficient majority in the
Chamber of Deputies to topple the government. Mr Sobotka expressed the
hope that the smallest government party Public Affairs, could present
an opportunity by - in his view - standing by its election programme.
The Social Democrats have initiated no-confidence votes on the current
government twice before: in December 2010 and last April.

News site: officers removed bugging device at High State Prosecutor's

The Czech news website aktualne.cz reports that two men who accompanied
former chief Prague prosecutor Stanislav Mecl into the office of a
deputy attorney at the High State Prosecutor's office on the night of
February 17 were police officers allegedly tasked with removing a
bugging device. A battle has raged between officials at the office
since the former high state prosecutor for Prague Vlastimil Rampula -
dismissed last year on the grounds he was holding up key corruption
cases - was allowed to return to his post last week. This followed a
recent ruling by the municipal court. On Friday, Mr Rampula filed a
criminal complaint against Mr Mecl and the other two men for illegal
intrusion. Division has reportedly only increased between Mr Rampula
and Supreme State Prosecutor Karel Zeman and Justice Minister Jiri
Pospisil; the latter has suggested he will leave the government unless
the reinstated Mr Rampula is recalled for good.

Home birth ends in tragedy

A spokeswoman for the emergency services in the region of Central
Bohemia has revealed that a home birth in Mestec Kralove in the Nymburk
area ended in tragedy at the weekend. The birth had been planned in the
non-clinical setting but the newborn stopped breathing shortly after
delivery. According to the spokeswoman, a trained specialist provided
telephone-assisted CPR before an ambulance crew arrived. Specialists
then continued to try and revive the newborn but failed. Spokeswoman
Tereza Janeckova said that the emergency services had been called too
late to save the little girl. Every year in the Czech Republic around
100 women opt for home births. Many obstetricians in the country
continue to oppose births at home in favour of hospitals on the grounds
that in the case of complications hospital staff can take action

Municipal Court weighs whether to reopen Duricko trial

Prague's Municipal Court is considering an appeal by jailed businessman
Bohumir Duricko's legal defence asking for the re-opening of his trial
on the basis of new expert assessments. Mr Duricko was found guilty in
the murder of Vaclav Kocka, jr., who he shot in a bar in Prague on the
night of October 9, 2008. As a result he was sentenced to 12.5 years in
prison. The incident took place some time after a book signing at the
location by then-Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek. Mr Duricko has
put forward new expert assessments to try and prove that the act was
not murder but manslaughter; the convict is reportedly trying secure a
lighter jail sentence. After hearing from a number of judicial experts
on Tuesday, the court postponed further deliberation until April 2.

Court sentences Polish national to three years in prison

On Tuesday the district court in Liberec sentenced 26-year-old Polish
national Jakub Stefanik to three years in prison and expulsion from the
Czech Republic for the sale of synthetic drugs banned under newer
legislation. The Pole sold samples of the drugs under the pretence they
were souvenirs; the drugs are said to be similar in effect to ecstasy
or pervetin (the Czech methamphetamine). Mr Stefanik had been held in
custody awaiting trial. Along with selling illegal synthetic drugs Mr
Stefanik also sold marijuana to an undercover police officer. He has
already appealed Tuesday's decision, meaning the case will now go to
the regional court.

Sixty-two year old pedestrian killed in traffic accident

A 62-year-old homeless man was killed in Ostrava in the east of the
country on Monday night when he was accidentally struck by a motorist.
According to reports, the man was likely at a pedestrian crossing. A
doctor who arrived at the scene was able to help. Police are waiting to
question the 30-year-old driver, who suffered a mental collapse
following the incident. The 62-year-old man killed is the third
pedestrian in the Ostrava area to have died in a traffic accident this

NHL action: Hejduk, Hejda earn assists, Winnipeg goalie Pavelec allows
five goals

Overseas, in the National Hockey League Milan Hejduk earned an assist
and Jan Hejda earned two in Monday's game between the Colorado
Avalanche and Anaheim. The Avs won the game 4:1.

In other action, Winnipeg Jet's goalie Ondrej Pavelec had a night to
forget, allowing five goals on 25 shots by the Edmonton Oilers. The
final score was 5:3.


Conditions over the coming days are expected to be cloudy with
scattered showers and daytime highs of around 7o Celsius.

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

Jiri Trnka: 100th anniversary of the birth of a great Czech animator.

This February marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the
Czech Republic's greatest animators, puppeteers and illustrators, Jiri
Trnka. This milestone is being marked in the Czech Republic by the
country's National Film Archive; its Prague-based Ponrepo cinema
screening a collection of Trnka's films and documentaries about the
artist until March 16th. Czech Centres around the globe - which exist
to promote the Czech Republic - are also marking the anniversary
heralding an exhibition called "Jiri Trnka: In the Service of the
Imagination" which kicked off in Munich and also runs until March.


Students continue protests over university reform proposals

The student protests that formed a key component of the 1989 Velvet
Revolution serve as a stark reminder, even more than twenty years
later, that the imagery of any Czech government upsetting its student
population is going to create a major headache. Recent reforms proposed
by the Czech Education Ministry under Josef Dobes have achieved just
that. Students are crying foul, with banners draped in universities
across the country accusing the government of putting profits before
education. This week, many Czech students have taken matters a step
further with a self-titled "Week of protests" against the legislation.
Tuesday sees students attending countless workshops and debates while
protests marching on the offices of the Czech government are scheduled
for Wednesday. Dominik Jun spoke to Charles University student Matous
Turek, one of organizers of the protests, and began by asking Turek to
explain the background behind the controversial legislation:


Analysis Results - new Kristof Kintera exhibit perplexes and provokes

Kristof Kintera is one of the most respected contemporary Czech artists
- he was recently given the title Artist of the Year - and his new
exhibit offers an insight into his latest work. Provocative, whimsical
and daring, the "Vysledky analyzy" show is one of the season's most
interesting exhibits. We take a look ahead of the opening.


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