Thursday, March 8, 2012

News 3.8.2012

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

News Thursday, March 8th, 2012

By: Daniela Lazarova

* Deputy Prime Minister Karolina Peake on Thursday took the stand as a
witness in the Vit Barta corruption trial.

* Prague's Bulovka hospital will start re-operating patients with PIP
breast implants this Saturday.

* According to the results of an expert study Prague's anti-flood
barriers are not properly maintained.

* Police report a heightened interest in street security cameras among
the inhabitants of Chomutov, north west Bohemia.

* Prague Bishop Vaclav Maly has been awarded the newly-established
Arnost Lustig Prize.

Court hears more witnesses in Barta trial

A Prague 5 court has heard more witnesses in the case of Public Affairs
MP Vit Barta who is being tried on charges of corruption. Among the
witnesses who took the stand on the fourth day of the closely-watched
trial was Deputy Prime Minister Karolina Peake who is in charge of the
government's anti-corruption portfolio. The case centres on the
activities of Vit Barta who is widely seen as the party's de-facto
leader and whom two former high-placed party members accuse of having
tried to buy their loyalty with large sums of money. Barta was forced
to resign as transport minister after the scandal broke and the affair
has badly tarnished the reputation of the junior coalition party which
won seats in parliament on a strong anti- corruption agenda.

PM says Barta trial damaging to Czech politics

In reaction to the mudslinging accompanying the Barta trial, Prime
Minister Petr Necas said that a glimpse into the bowels of party
politics was rarely pleasant and urged party members to weigh their
words. Mr. Necas stressed that his words should not be interpreted as
an attempt to influence or meddle in the work of the court. Similarly
as President Vaclav Klaus, the prime minister expressed concern that
the closely watched trial would further tarnish people's perception of
politics in the Czech Republic. He said people should keep in mind that
it was individuals who were being tried, not an entire political party.

Bulovka to start re-operating patients with PIP breast implants

Prague's Bulovka hospital will start re-operating patients with PIP
breast implants this Saturday. The hospital said that in order to meet
demand from patients who wanted a change of implants as soon as
possible it was scheduling re-op breast surgery for Saturdays
throughout the months of March and April. The first five patients are
scheduled for surgery this weekend. An estimated 2,000 Czech women
received the risky PIP implants. While insurance companies have said
they will cover the cost of surgery for women who underwent the
operation for health reasons, those who did so for aesthetic reasons
will have to pay for it themselves.

Prague's flood barriers in sorry state

According to the results of an expert study published in Thursday's
edition of Lidove noviny Prague's anti-flood barriers are not properly
maintained. The paper cites experts as saying that along given
stretches of the river the barriers are in such poor condition they
would not be able to keep out the floodwater. The study contains dozens
of pictures supporting these claims. Prague invested 3.7 billion crowns
in a flood-barrier protection system after the 2002 devastating floods.

Chomutov inhabitants requesting more security cameras

Police report a heightened interest in street security cameras among
the inhabitants of Chomutov, north west Bohemia. The rise in petty
theft and robberies led the police to install 28 security cameras
around the town which has 50,000 inhabitants. Despite the loss of
privacy many people have asked for a camera to be installed right
outside their house and the police say they have had to make a waiting
list for future security cameras. Two mobile cameras have been
installed in high-risk areas. Police say that since the introduction of
the security camera network crime and prostitution have significantly

Bishop Maly awarded Arnost Lustig Prize

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas on Thursday awarded the
newly-established Arnost Lustig Prize to its first winner, Prague
Bishop Vaclav Maly, a dissident priest and one of the leading figures
of the 1989 Velvet Revolution. The prize was established by the
Czech-Israeli Chamber of Commerce on the first anniversary of death of
writer Arnost Lustig. It is awarded to individuals who uphold the
values that the late Arnost Lustig embodied and promoted: courage,
humanity and justice.

Charter 77 signatories to commemorate manifesto anniversary

Signatories of the Charter 77 human rights manifesto will mark its 35th
anniversary next week with a series of cultural and commemorative
events, including special performances of Vaclav Havel��s plays. Charter
77 Week, held from March 12-18, will offer the public exhibitions,
seminars and debates with former dissidents. It is also intended to
honour the memory of philosopher and Charter 77 spokesman Jan Patocka
who became the first victim of the communist backlash against the
manifesto. He was arrested and died of a stroke shortly after
undergoing an 11-hour interrogation by the communist secret police.

Czech appeal to join MUS case rejected by Swiss court

A Swiss court has dismissed an appeal for the Czech Republic to be
allowed to join the proceedings against former managers of the
privatised Mostecka uhelna coal mining firm. The Czech state thus
stands to lose billions of crowns that are now blocked in Switzerland.
The Swiss started the investigation in June of 2005 on suspicion that
large sums of money had been illegally siphoned from the company. Six
Czechs and one Belgian citizen have been charged with money laundering
and other financial crimes. The Czech Justice Ministry has said now
seek to join the proceedings by filing a civil action.

Record high foreign trade surplus in January

The Czech Republic��s foreign trade ended in a record-high surplus of
29.6 billion crowns in January, 11.7 billion higher year on year and
the highest figure since the establishment of the Czech Republic in
1993, the Czech Statistical Office announced on Thursday. According to
preliminary data, exports increased by 11 percent and imports by 6.3
percent year on year. The surplus is fuelled by trade with EU member
states which grew by 7.1 billion to 68.8 billion, while that with
non-EU countries ended in a deficit of 39.2 billion, which is 4.6
billion crowns lower year on year.

Unemployment rises in February

Unemployment rose by 0.1% in February, according to new data released
by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. In February, 541,685 were
looking for work in the Czech Republic at an overall unemployment rate
of 9.2%. The highest rates of unemployment were in Jesenik, at 17.9%,
while Prague-east was the lowest, at 3.5%. Weak consumer demand
continues to blight the Czech economy, while analysts fear that
government austerity measures could increase unemployment levels to
9.5% .


The coming days are expected to be cold and overcast with sleet or snow
showers in the higher altitudes, icy roads and day temperatures between
2 and 6 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today
Exhibition at Vitkov Memorial highlights the Klement Gottwald
personality cult

The National Museum has opened an exhibition highlighting the
personality cult of the first Czechoslovak communist president, Klement
Gottwald. The exhibition, named Laboratory of Power, is located in
Prague��s Vitkov Memorial which the communist regime turned into a
mausoleum for Gottwald after his death in 1953. One of the exhibition's
organizers Marek Junek took me through the underground rooms built for
the army of people who took care of the embalmed body for nine long
years. He started out by explaining how the memorial underwent a
significant transformation after the communists took power:
The Czech Republic investigates the impact of Poland's

The Polish media have dubbed it "saltgate" - revelations that at least
three Polish companies have been selling industrial salt (normally used
to de-ice roads) to milk, fish, meat and bread producers. Several
countries to which Poland may have exported potentially contaminated
food products have been identified: Lithuania, Ireland, England,
Germany and the Czech Republic. This week, the Czech Agriculture
Ministry decided to temporarily block the import of salt from Poland,
while tests are carried out by the State Veterinary Administration to
determine if harmful substances such as dioxins and heavy metals found
in road salt have made their way into the food chain. Meanwhile, five
people have been arrested in Poland in connection with the affair,
while the remaining salt in question has been impounded as the
country's own Chief Sanitary Inspectorate continues its tests.
"Radioactivists" - a documentary at the One World festival explores
Japanese protests in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

As part of this year's edition of the One World International Human
Rights Film Festival, which is currently on in Prague, the
German-produced independent documentary Radioactivists - Protest in
Japan provides a rare and up-close look at Japanese protests in the
wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. It is being shown in the Youth
Quake category, which features films that portray young people's
struggle for change in countries around the world. I asked co-director
Clarissa Seidel, who made the film together with her good friend Julia
Leser, about Japanese protest culture and whether she was at all
interested in the country prior to the film project.

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