Wednesday, May 23, 2012

News 5.23.2012

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

News Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

By: Daniela Lazarova

* A Russian military airplane crashed while making a landing at the
Caslav air force base close to midday Wednesday.

* The government has approved a package of austerity measures for 2013.

* Farmers slowed traffic around the country in protest of the
government's decision to slash tax refunds on bio-fuel.

* A proposed re-distribution of tax revenue would see bigger towns
loose out to smaller ones.

* The vast majority of Czechs want smoke free restaurants.

Russian plane crash at Caslav air base

A Russian military airplane crashed while making a landing at the
Caslav air force base close to midday on Wednesday. The plane swerved
off the landing strip and a fire broke out on board. Of the 23
passengers and crew, 7 are reported to have suffered serious burns and
injuries. No deaths have been reported. The plane was carrying 14
Russians and 9 Czechs. There have been reports of landing gear failure.

Government approves austerity measures

The government on Wednesday approved a series of austerity measures for
2013 including a one percent hike in VAT to 15 and 21 percent
respectively, fewer tax reliefs for entrepreneurs and no tax refunds on
bio-fuel for farmers. The measures, which have yet to be approved by
Parliament and signed into law by the president, should help bring the
gap in public finances to below 3 percent of GDP.

Farmers stage protest against slashed tax refunds on bio-fuel

The government's decision to remove tax rebates on fuel and to
introduce a consumption tax on wine was behind a nation-wide farmers'
protest held on Wednesday. Farmers brought out around 2,000 heavy farm
vehicles such as tractors and harvesters on 185 roads across the
country to deliberately slow traffic. The Association of Czech Farmers,
which argues that the move will strip Czech farmers of their
competitiveness within the EU, has warned that more protests will take
place in the coming weeks and months.

Vit Barta back in the fold

The leadership of Public Affairs has voted to renew the membership of
the party's informal leader Vit Barta who received an 18-month
suspended sentence for corruption a few weeks ago. Barta has also been
assigned the task of coordinating the work of the party's commission of
experts. Public Affairs, which split and was forced into opposition by
the scandal, is now trying to re-group and prepare for the autumn
Senate and local elections. Party leader Radek John has said he will
seek re-election at the party's June conference.

Big towns to lose out in new tax re-distribution scheme

A proposed re-distribution of tax revenue approved by the government on
Wednesday would see bigger towns loose out to smaller ones. In line
with an agreement reached between the governing parties smaller and
medium sized towns would now get some 2,000 crowns more from state
funds per inhabitant. If the amendment is approved by Parliament Prague
would lose out on 650 million annually, Brno 203 million, Ostrava 158
and Plzen 90 million crowns less from state coffers as of 2013.

PM not opposed to Rath defending himself in Parliament

Prime Minister Petr Necas said on Wednesday he was not principally
against letting David Rath, an MP who stands accused of corruption,
defending himself in Parliament ahead of a vote by the lower house on
whether he should be stripped of his parliamentary immunity. The prime
minister said such a session would have to be closed to the media and
public and the matter would have to be decided by some form of
consensus between the parties represented in the lower house. Earlier
this week parliament's mandate and immunity committee heard Mr. Rath's
testimony at a villa belonging to the Interior Ministry rather than
allowing him to enter parliament.

Child abuse cases on the rise

NGOs working to prevent child abuse report an alarming increase in such
cases over the past decade. Zuzana Baudysova from Our Child Foundation
said at a press briefing in Prague on Wednesday that according to
statistics compiled by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry the
number of child abuse cases is now five times higher than it was 10
years ago. Presently the ministry registers 6642 cases of abused
children, which Baudysova fears may be the tip of the iceberg. She says
that child-care in the Czech Republic has gradually worsened with more
cases of abuse and neglect present stemming from frustration, overwork
and stress on the part of parents.

Opposition parties gaining strength

The outcome of a survey conducted by the CVVM agency suggests that the
opposition Social Democrats are gaining in strength. If elections were
held today they would get 36.5 percent of the vote followed by the
Communist party with 21.5 percent. The centre-right Civic Democrats
have dropped to a two-year-low with 17 percent support. TOP 09 would
get 10,5 percent and the Christian Democrats 5.5 percent.

Bakala reportedly planning to make bid for Polish chemicals group Ciech

Czech investor Zdenek Bakala is planning to launch a bid for Polish
chemicals group Ciech before the summer, the Reuters news agency
reported on Wednesday citing unnamed banking sources. The news agency
says that earlier this year, media reported that Bakala's BXR Group and
its BXR Partners unit in Poland might be looking at three investments
in Poland worth 100-300 million euros. Bakala, majority shareholder in
Czech coal miner New World Resources had no immediate comment.

Vast majority of Czechs want smoke free restaurants

The vast majority of Czechs want smoke free restaurants. According to
the latest survey results 78 percent of respondents -including many
smokers - said they would welcome a smoking ban in restaurants across
the board. Forty percent of Czech smokers would support such a ban. It
is now up to individual restaurant and pub owners to decide whether or
not to ban smoking. A large number of them fear that by doing so their
would lose many regulars. Efforts to approve a smoking ban in eateries
across the country have repeatedly failed in the past.


The coming days should bring partly cloudy skies with scattered showers
and a drop in day temperatures to around 20 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today
CzechTourism boss: rising numbers of Russian tourists reflect change in
visa policy

The Czech Republic is becoming more popular with foreign tourists. The
latest figures show that in the first three months of this year, almost
1.3 million tourists visited the country which represents a 13-percent
increase compared to the same period last year. German tourists
continue to top the list of foreign visitors, followed by Russians who
are the fastest growing group. RP discussed the development with
Rostislav Vondruska, the head of the state agency CzechTourism.
Immunity Committee votes unanimously to strip Rath of immunity

The Parliamentary Committee on Mandates and Immunity on Tuesday voted
unanimously to recommend MP David Rath be stripped of immunity and
prosecuted for corruption. After a two-hour meeting with Dr Rath, and
studying part of the police evidence against him, the parliamentarians
were unconvinced of his claims of a conspiracy against him and his not
knowing he had received a box full of bribery money. Many of them
shared new details of the arrest, evidence and the condition of the
fallen governor himself.
Prague & Lima mark 90 years of diplomatic relations with donation of
historic tank

Prague and Lima have been marking the 90th anniversary of diplomatic
relations this week through a number of events, including a ceremony in
Lima preceding the return of an historic Czechoslovak-built tank to the
Czech Republic. The LTP 38, as it is known, was built for Peru in the
1930s, designed specifically for high terrain. Originally, there were
24 of the armoured fighting vehicles.

This e-mail is sent to you automatically according to the settings you
chose at To change the settings, click
here. (C) 2012, Radio Prague - the international service of Czech Radio,
all rights reserved., E-mail: