Friday, March 16, 2012

News 3.16.2012

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

News Friday, March 16th, 2012

By: Jan Richter

* President Klaus has signed into law a bill acknowledging former
president Vaclav Havel's contribution to freedom and democracy.

* The Czech telecoms regulator has moved to slash operators' fees by
half in 2013.

* Health workers' trade unions have warned against planned restrictions
of access to health care.

* The popular Czech film and stage actor Bronislav Poloczek has died at
the age of 72.

* Record high temperatures have been registered across the Czech

President Klaus signs bill acknowledging Vaclav Havel

President Vaclav Klaus on Friday signed into law a bill confirming
former president Vaclav Havel's role in modern Czech history. The bill,
which states that "Vaclav Havel served freedom and democracy", was
approved by both houses of the Czech Parliament where it received
backing from all political parties with the exception of the
communists. Two other Czech leaders were similarly honoured in the
past: Tomas Garrigue Masaryk in 1937 and Edvard Benes in 2004. Former
president, dissident and playwright Vaclav Havel died in December at
the age of 75.

Czech telecoms regulator to slash operators' fees

The Czech Republic's telecoms regulator has launched proceedings
against the country's three mobile phone operators to make them slash
charges for handling calls by 50 percent in 2013, according to a report
released by the Czech Telecommunications Office on Friday. Telefonica,
T-Mobile and Vodafone should gradually cut down their fees from the
current 1.08 crowns per minute to 0.55 crowns next year, the report
said. The head of the Czech Telecommunications Office, Petr Dvorak,
said it would by up to the operators whether they will also accordingly
adjust their prices for end customers.

The Czech regulator recently came under criticism for failing to
enforce cheaper mobile phone call prices. Critics say that prices in
the Czech Republic are among the highest in all OECD countries.

Germany's Merkel to visit Prague in April

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to visit the Czech Republic in
early April, Czech Radio reported on Friday quoting diplomatic sources
from both countries. Ms Merkel will come to mark the 20th anniversary
of the Czech-German Declaration, a document that brought reconciliation
into the mutual relations of the two countries after the burdens of the
20th century. During her one-and-half-day's stay, Chancellor Merkel
will meet with Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas and President Vaclav

Foreign minister denies resignation reports

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has denied media reports he
was quitting the country's centre-right government over disputes with
the prime minister. The Czech news-website Insider reported on Thursday
that Mr Schwarzenberg had decided to step down in protest against the
prime minister's refusal to join the EU's fiscal treaty. However, the
report was denied by both Prime Minister Petr Necas and Foreign
Minister Karel Schwarzenberg who said the reporters were "losing their

Trade unions warn against restrictions of health care access

Czech health workers' trade unions on Friday warned against planned
restrictions of access to health care. Union leaders called on Health
Minister Leos Heger to reconsider the move; in support of their
demands, the unions will stage a rally outside the health ministry
building on March 27, the head of the union Dagmar Zitnikova said.

The Health Ministry is planning to overhaul the system of providing
health care so that patients have guaranteed access to all specialists
within 40 minutes' drive from their homes. The unions say however this
will drastically restrict health care in the regions, and will in
effect lead to the closing down of hospitals, polyclinics as well as
doctors' practices.

School unions go on "strike alert" over government's spending cuts

Czech school trade unions on Friday went on "strike alert" over further
spending cuts planned for this year by the Finance Ministry. Under the
new austerity measures, regional schools could lose up to 3.4 billion
crowns which would mean a drop in salaries by 1,200 crowns per
employee, the head of the trade union Frantisek Dobsik said. The unions
warned that they will go on strike if the government does not
reconsider its plans.

Actor Bronislav Poloczek dies aged 72

The popular Czech film and theatre actor Bronislav Poloczek died on
Friday at the age of 72, a spokesman for Prague's National Theatre
said. Mr Poloczek, who was an ethnic Pole, appeared in his first film
in 1960. In 1988, Bronislav Poloczek joined the National Theatre in
Prague. His role in the 1992 film Cerni baroni, or Black Barons, about
a communist-era military unit made up of the regime's opponents,
brought him nationwide popularity.

Police raid two marijuana farms in central Moravia

Police in central Moravia have raided two marijuana farms, confiscating
over 1,000 cannabis plants and more than 16 kilograms of dried
marijuana, a police chief said on Friday, adding the street value of
the drug is estimated at three million crowns. The police also arrested
two men aged 27 and 37 who face up to 12 years in prison for the
production of illicit substances.

Football: Cech's Chelsea FC to play Benfica in Champion League's

Chelsea FC with Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech were drawn against the
Portuguese side Benfica Lisbon in the quarterfinals of the Champions
League. The first leg is scheduled for March 27 or 28 in Lisbon, while
the second is to be played in London on April 3 or 4. Petr Cech has
welcomed the draw but warned Benfica was a strong opponent which
knocked out Russia's FC Zenit. Chelsea FC secured a spot in the
Champions League's last 16 when on Wednesday they defeated Italy's SSC
Napoli 4:1 in extra time after having lost 3:1 in the first leg in

Record high temperatures registered across the country

Record high temperatures were registered at over 40 weather stations
across the Czech Republic on Friday, with temperature hikes of six and
seven degrees Celsius over the last 24 hours. The highest temperature
of 20.4 degrees was recorded in Cesky Krumlov. The oldest record - 15.1
degrees Celsius from 1899 - was broken in the central Bohemian town of


A spell of nice and warm spring weather is set to continue over the
weekend, with clear skies and daytime highs ranging between 16 and 20
degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today
A Night Too Young: a successful start for Slovenian director Omerzu

It's not every film student that gets his premiere at the International
film festival in Berlin, to be sure, but such was the fortune of Olmo
Omerzu, a FAMU graduate from Ljubljana, Slovenia, and our guest in this
week's Arts. His graduate film called A Night Too Young (Prilis mlada
noc) had its world premiere in the Forum section of the Berlinale,
which generally selects highly original, highly provocative works. A
Night Too Young is both of those things: a story of a party of three
consternated adults, shared by two twelve-year-old boys, who have no
idea that they are about to grow up fast. We met with Olmo Omerzu this
week, on the occasion of the film's domestic premiere, and asked him
first of all about his Czech connection came to be.
New slat armour to be used on additional Czech military vehicles in

Additional transport vehicles used by the Czech military in Afghanistan
are to receive added protection developed by defence firm VOP-026
Sternberk: cage (or slat) armour capable of defending against
rocket-propelled grenades or shape-charged warheads. Lightweight and
made of superior alloy steel, the slat armour can consistently save
lives in attacks that otherwise almost certainly prove fatal.
Business News 16.3.2012

In this week's business news: Czech banks are getting ready to sign off
on what could be the largest-ever club deal, negotiations between Skoda
Auto management and unions continue, the Czech Agrarian Chamber's
president has said that egg prices will stabilize, the cost of fuel has
hit a record high and the American coffee retailer Starbucks has opened
its first Czech branch outside of Prague.

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