Wednesday, March 7, 2012

News 3.7.2012

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

News Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

By: Dominik Jun

* Tests in the Moravian-Silesian region find no evidence of
contamination by Polish industrial salt.

* The German daily Die Welt accuses President Klaus of seeking to break
up the European Union.

* Czech police have arrested an Iranian citizen wanted internationally
for attempted arms trafficking.

* Liberec police have found a huge haul of apparently unlicensed

* President Klaus declines a request to pardon the imprisoned artist
Roman Tyc.

Food inspectors give all clear to Moravian goods after Polish salt scare

The State Veterinary Administration has announced that samples from
food known to contain Polish-sourced salt in the Moravian-Silesian
region have thus far not shown any evidence of containing dangerous
chemicals. The tests come in the wake of a major scandal in Poland, in
which for years several companies were found to have been selling salt
intended for industrial purposes to food producers. The Czech Republic
has provisionally banned the import of salt from Poland with Czech
Agriculture Minister Petr Bendl subsequently accusing Poland of
providing insufficient information to Czech authorities seeking to
assess whether Polish goods contaminated with industrial salt have made
their way into the Czech food chain. The Moravian-Sliesian region tests
took place in Olomouc with both food and pure salt samples tested. Both
were found to be safe; tests on meat products are currently underway
with the SVA continuing to press Polish authorities to provide more
information over the precise nature of the industrial salt in question
and which food companies may have purchased it.

Germany's Die Welt accuses Klaus of seeking to break up EU

The Germany daily Die Welt has accused Czech president Vaclav Klaus of
seeking to break up the European Union. The conservative daily cited
Klaus' support of Turkish EU entry in its argument; Germany is
presently opposed to Turkish entry. Specifically, the paper noted
recent comments by close Klaus aid Jiri Payne, who said: "I think that
he wants to break up the European Union," adding that "There are groups
of European sceptics in each country. They are expanding into a stream
in the current crisis. Klaus will travel round Europe and see to it
that this stream is strengthening even more," according to comments
reported by CTK. The paper argues that Klaus' pro-Turkish stance has
nothing to do with advocating for Turkey, but is rather another cynical
move designed to weaken and possibly break-up the European Union by
exacerbating the EU's current problems via the addition of a new member
with a population of roughly 60 million people. In a recent interview
with the daily Pravo, Payne also noted that the sooner the "failed
integration project" of the EU is ended, the better it will be for the
economies of its members.

Police arrest Iranian arms trafficking suspect

Police have arrested an Iranian citizen wanted internationally for
attempted arms trafficking. Detectives from the organised crime
division of the police took custody of Behrouz Dolatzadi in February on
suspicion of attempting to purchase 500 M4 carbines in Prague for
export to Iran, getting around the arms embargo. Czech Television
reported Tuesday that the top secret operation to arrest Dolatzadi was
carried out in concert with U.S. intelligence services, which issued
the warrant. Dolatzadi arrived in the United States in 2011 as a
representative of a Tehran clothing company and tried to buy the rifles
there. He signed a contract for 3000 M4 rifles for Iran but the deal
fell through. According to Czech Television, Dolatzadi then moved to
the Czech Republic and signed a contract for M4 carbines worth 40,000
euros. Czech agents working undercover as arms manufacturers were in
contact with him. He was arrested in Prague's Clarion Hotel where he
was staying.

Police find huge haul of unlicensed tobacco

Customs officials in the Czech city of Liberec have uncovered a huge
haul of unlicensed tobacco following an anonymous tip-off. Around 16
tonnes of tobacco, with an estimated street value of 3.5 million crowns
was found in a storage depot, reportedly owned by a twenty-five
year-old Polish man lacking any documentation confirming that duties
had been paid on the product in his possession. Upon arriving at the
scene, police found 168 boxes containing either shredded or un-shredded
rolling tobacco; some also contained only sawdust. Authorities are
continuing to undertake scientific tests to determine exactly what they
uncovered. Should authorities confirm that the man failed to pay
duties, he will face a 22 million crown fine and could face up to eight
years in prison, reports CTK.

Prague 2 mayor resigns after accusations of abuse of power

The Civic Democrat mayor of the Prague 2 district Jiri Paluska resigned
Wednesday following accusations that he had abused his power while in
office. Specifically, the mayor faced accusations that he personally
benefitted from a questionable rental arrangement and subsequent
reconstruction tender by the district, with Paluska's son living in an
apartment that had officially been designated to be reconstructed,
partially at public expense. Transparency International filed a
complaint against Prague 2 arguing that the scenario presented by the
district - of reconstruction and rental of a property on Dittrichova
road - never actually took place and also claimed to possess
documentation proving that the mayor's son was occupying part of the
property in question. Deputy mayor Vaclav Vondrasek has now taken over
Paluska's post.

Czech president denies pardon to imprisoned artist

Czech artist Roman Tyc, currently serving the second week of a
month-long jail term, has been denied a pardon by the Czech president.
Tyc was imprisoned after refusing to pay a 60,000 crown fine levied by
the authorities as punishment for the artist's defacing red and green
traffic light figures in 2007 to show them in situations such as
drinking, urinating and being hanged. Numerous civic initiatives have
sprung up in recent months supporting Tyc's cause, while the artist
pinned his hopes on a presidential pardon. According to the president's
office, Klaus carefully weighed the case, but ultimately decided not to
intervene. Meanwhile, Tyc's lawyer contacted the Czech Justice Minister
Jiri Pospisil last week, asking him to send the case to country's
Supreme Court, arguing that the entire prosecution of Tyc for vandalism
was unwarranted.

Taxi drivers stage protest outside City Hall

Dozens of taxi drivers staged a protest outside Prague's City Hall on
Wednesday by deliberately parking in front of the building in Marianske
Namesti. The taxi drivers blocked streets around the site as police on
the scene issued fines to several of the taxi drivers who added to the
protest by beeping their horns. The protests are in favour of recently
rejected proposals to introduce a minimum per kilometre tariff of 24
crowns for all of the city's taxis. The action began in Prague's
Strahov district at around 1pm, with drivers then making their way to
City Hall. Presently, only a maximum tariff of 28 crowns is in effect,
with mayor Bohuslav Svoboda arguing that a minimum fee would reduce
competition in the taxi market. Hundreds of taxi drivers have
reportedly signed a petition in favour of the minimum tariff plan.

Illegally built Pardubice villa faces demolition

A luxury villa built illegally in Pardubice's Na Spici park faces
demolition after a ruling by local planning authorities, following four
years of legal wrangling. The villa was built without seeking planning
permission by local resident Milos Holecek at a cost of 10 million
crowns. Its owner appealed to local courts an initial ruling which also
found that the building was in breach of local zoning rules, and this
has now been upheld, meaning that the demolition must take place within
several months. Further, authorities have ruled that Holecek must pay
for the demolition himself or face having to pay the price tag for the
city arranging the demolition. Holecek claims that local politicians
reneged on an earlier promise to change zoning requirements that would
make the structure legal. He has now promised to appeal to the European
Court of Human Rights over the dispute.

Government neutral on proposals to make TV ads same volume as programmes

The Czech government has said it remains neutral on a proposal by MP to
force TV stations to broadcast television advertisements at the same
volume as regular programming - presently, commercials can be
considerably louder. According to Deputy PM Karolina Peake, the plan
will go to MPs, who will decide its fate free of government lobbying.
Under the proposals, volume levels would be monitored by the Radio and
Television Council (RRTV), with violations leading to fines of up the
five million crowns. Trailers and teasers would also have to be at the
same volume as regular programming. A similar law was passed in
Slovakia in 2007.

Zlin man faces prison sentence after home counterfeiting operation
falls flat

A 24-year-old Zlin man has been arrested after trying to pass a fake
500 crown note, which he created by scanning a real banknote and then
printing out copies on his home printer. According to police, the man
tried to pass off one of the notes at a pub; the suspicious waitress
immediately notified police leading to the culprit's arrest. According
to police, the man then confessed to having produced a total of 289
fake 500 crown banknotes, citing financial hardship as the key
motivation. He now faces between three and five years in prison.


Clear skies continue across much of the Czech Republic, with
temperatures around 5 degrees Celsius. However, Thursday is expected to
bring overcast skies and prolonged showers or even snowfall.

Articles posted on today
Study warns of possible new attacks against Roma as neo-Nazi movement
gains traction

A new study commissioned by the Interior Ministry has suggested that
the neo-Nazi movement in the Czech Republic (estimated as 4,000 strong
with 400 hardcore members) is successfully pushing an agenda of hatred
and racism in troubled parts of the country. As it stands, the last
decade or so saw a number of arson attacks against ethnic Roma families
including a highly-publicised case where a toddler barely survived and
was left with lifelong disabilities. According to the latest report,
unless more comprehensive measures are taken soon, racially-motivated
attacks spurred by the neo-Nazi movement, may increase.
Protest, rebellion, revolt - Arab Spring takes center stage at the One
World International Human Rights Film Festival 2012

The One World International Human Rights Film Festival has just started
in Prague. This year's edition brings over a hundred films from 72
countries to the Czech capital, where documentary lovers can visit
special festival screenings until March 15. With such an abundance of
interesting documentaries, it's something difficult to determine what
to see first - we asked program director Katerina Bartosova about her
highlights and about the theme of this year's main category.
A Prague institution - the famous Cafe Slavia

Prague's wealth of traditional coffeehouses is a legacy from the era of
the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But even in today's hectic time, grabbing
a quick cup on the run is fortunately not the only option for coffee
lovers in the Czech capital. Probably the best-known cafe in the golden
city is Kavarna Slavia, or Cafe Slavia. We recently visited this
traditional coffeehouse.

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