Friday, March 23, 2012

News 3.23.2012

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

News Friday, March 23rd, 2012

By: Sarah Borufka

* Education Minister Josef Dobes has tendered his resignation to the
prime minister.

* A recently published wire tap recording of a conversation between the
controversial lobbyist Roman Janousek and a senior town hall employee
has cast a new light on the inner workings of Prague City Hall.

* In related news, police have started investigating the wire tap

* Roman Janousek was arrested for drunk driving in Prague on Friday.

* Union representatives have walked out of a tripartite meeting with
government officials and employer associations.

Embattled education minister resigns citing cuts

Education Minister Josef Dobes tendered his resignation to Prime
Minister Petr Necas on Friday. He said he had already informed
President Vaclav Klaus of his decision and would be leaving his post at
the end of the month. Mr. Dobes, a minister for the junior Public
Affairs party, cited budget cuts as the main reason behind his decision
but there has been speculation that he was leaving office to save face
rather than being dismissed for incompetence by the prime minister.

Mr Dobes is one of the most contentious members of the government,
having been criticized for mismanagement of EU funds, a botched
university reform and most recently his decision to extend the
accreditation of the Plzen faculty of law, a decision he was
technically not entitled to make. He is the eighth minister to leave
the current government.

Wire tap recording of conversation between a controversial lobbyist and
senior town hall employee casts new light on inner workings of Prague
City Hall

A wire tap in which the controversial lobbyist and powerful
construction entrepreneur Roman Janousek tells a Prague City Hall
employee to shut his eyes to problems related to dodgy construction
projects has been published by the daily Mlada fronta dnes. In the
conversation, a senior town hall figure discusses the reconstruction of
the Palmovka metro station with Mr. Janousek, who responds to the city
hall employee's concerns regarding the controversial project with the
advice to "look away". At the time of the recording, Mr. Janousek was
in charge of mayor Pavel Bem's trips abroad and arranged meetings with
politicians for him. According to the daily, the lobbyist had great
influence on all City Hall employees and also on their budget decisions.

Police start investigation of wire tap scandal

According to the website of the daily Lidovky, police have started
investigating the latest wire tap scandal. Police president Petr Lessy
confirmed on Friday that the police was analyzing the content of the
recordings as well as trying to trace how they were leaked from the
country's intelligence service. No one has yet been charged in
connection with the case.

Lobbyist Roman Janousek caught drunk driving

In related news, Roman Janousek got into a car accident in Prague
briefly before noon on Friday. After crashing into a car in Prague's
Michle neighborhood, Mr. Janousek also ran over the 51-year-old driver
of the vehicle he collided with, leaving her lying seriously injured on
the road. Police caught up with him shortly after. According to media
reports, the lobbyist had a blood alcohol level of 2.2 promille at the
time of the accident. The woman is currently being treated in the
intensive care unit of Prague's Motol hospital. Police have charged the
lobbyist with several acts of crime and are investigating the case.

Prague chapter of Civic Democrats to discuss wire tap scandal

The Prague chapter of the Civic Democrats, of which former Prague mayor
Pavel Bem is a member, is set to meet on Monday to discuss the wire tap
scandal. Current Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda said on Friday that he
would not comment on the affair until after the meeting on Monday. Mr.
Svoboda was not a member of the city hall administration or the Civic
Democrats at the time when the wire taps were recorded.

Union representatives walk out of tripartite meeting

Union representatives walked out of Friday's tripartite meeting with
government officials and employers after only two hours calling the
government's austerity measures anti-social and unacceptable. Prime
Minister Petr Necas has labeled the step a "theater performance" and
said that the unions had already entered the negotiations with the
government and employer associations planning to leave them
prematurely. By contrast, he praised the constructive attitude of
employer organizations.

The unions have announced a major demonstration to take place on April
21. The government is planning to reduce the state budget deficit as
planned despite the fact that economic forecasts for this year are
worse than anticipated and has approved additional austerity measures
of a total of 23.6 billion Czech crowns.

Transport unions prepared to go on strike

In related news, transport unions are prepared to go on strike in
protest of the government's austerity measures and reforms. They
announced that the strike would be more massive than last year's
transport strike in June. The head of the railway workers' union
Jaroslav Pejsa said that the transport standstill would last for two
hours and be much more noticeable than last year, when only some trams
and metros ceased operating during the strike.

Febiofest kicks off in Prague

Italian film maker Nanni Moretti and French actress Sandrine Bonnaire
were presented with the Kristian awards for their contribution to world
cinematography at the gala opening of the 19th Febiofest International
Film Festival in Prague on Thursday. Another prize, named after the
late Czech film maker Jaromil Jires and awarded by the film makers and
screen writers�� association for non-commercial achievements, went to
the Czech Fund of Cinematography, for co-financing a TV cycle about the
1960s as the golden era of Czech Cinema. The festival will offer 400
screenings of more than 180 films from 55 countries.

Czech and Austrian police bust gang of robbers

Austrian and Czech police have busted a gang of Czech robbers on
Friday, near the Austrian Freistadt. On Thursday, a 28-year-old Czech
had tried to rob a bank in the nearby Rainbach and was arrested. In the
night from Thursday to Friday, police also managed to arrest the leader
of the gang, a 44-year-old Czech from Frymburk.

Criminal police solve murder case that happened 15 years ago

Criminal police have solved a murder case that happened 15 years ago in
Brno. The murderer, who is now aged 39, was identified thanks to finger
prints that he had left at the scene of the crime. The victim, a
21-year-old woman, was a prostitute. The man has admitted to the crime,
which does not fall under the statute of limitations. He is currently
under arrest and awaiting his trial.


The weekend is expected to bring clear and sunny conditions with
daytime highs reaching 19 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today
Business News 23.3.2012

In Business News: Industry and Trade Minister confirms that Czech
Republic will try and further expand nuclear energy production; Rusatom
Overseas signs memorandum with potential subcontractors on Temelin;
Skoda Auto sees significant increase in sales in foreign markets;
One-third of Czechs will be unable to save a single crown a month this
year, poll suggests; and Czech nanotechnology firms make mark in Japan.
The story of a successful Fine Arts studio

It was almost two years ago that then-fresh graduate Nina Mainerova set
out with a colleague to open a professional architectural studio. But
soon after their launch, the bills piled up and they were forced to
modify their plans. First, they began offering preparatory classes for
students applying to university; then they extended their workshops to
include drawing and painting.
Fresh wiretap scandal shows lobbyist's influence over Prague City Hall

A new scandal has thrown more light on how deals were made at Prague
City Hall, which has frequently come under fire for corrupt practices
and cronyism. Leaked phone wiretaps, recorded by the Czech secret
service, show how former Prague mayor Pavel Bem's decisions were
supervised by a powerful lobbyist. The police have now launched an
investigation into both the contents of the recordings, and how they
were leaked.

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