Friday, May 25, 2012

News 5.25.2012

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

News Friday, May 25th, 2012

By: Christian Falvey

* The EU Court of Auditors has accused Czech officials of
systematically fixing the results of audits on the use of EU funds.

* The Senate has backed two proposals to change legislation regarding
MP immunity.

* Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas held a private meeting with Pope
Benedict XVI in the Vatican on Friday.

* The Prague - Heart of the Nations cultural festival kicks off on
Friday on the city's Old Town Square.

EU Court of Auditors accuses Czech officials of fixing annual results

The EU Court of Auditors has accused Czech officials of systematically
fixing the results of audits on the use of EU funds. Czech auditors
allegedly decreased the number of errors in their annual audit reports
to the two percent limit or lower, thus masking nearly 40% of mistakes.
The Finance Ministry however has rejected the claims, which first
appeared in the website Moreover they say that there is no
thought of the EU cutting its subsidies on the basis of what is only a
preliminary finding.

Prime Minister Meets with Pope

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas held a private meeting with Pope
Benedict XVI in the Vatican on Friday. The visit was meant to mark the
start of one year until the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of
Christian missionaries Cyril and Methodius in Great Moravia. Mr Necas
offered the pontiff a rare copy of the illustrated Strahov Evangeliary
from the 9th century. The Pope in turn gave the prime minister a pen.
Earlier in the day Mr Necas laid flowers at the tomb of Czech Cardinal
Josef Beran, who died in exile in Rome in 1969 and paid homage to Czech
patron Saint Wenceslas at his altar in St Peter��s Basilica.
Celebrations for Cyril and Methodius include dozens of events
culminating in July 2013 at the Velehrad pilgrimage site in South
Moravia. Benedict XVI has been invited to attend the celebrations, but
his visit has not been confirmed as yet.

Senate backs proposals over change in MP immunity legislation

The upper house of Parliament has backed two proposals to change
legislation regarding MP immunity. Under the first, which was drafted
by the opposition Social Democrats, TOP 09 and the Christian Democrats,
MPs could be criminally prosecuted even while they are serving as
deputies and without being stripped of their immunity or prior approval
from the chairman of Parliament. The Civic Democrats have criticized
this proposal as "legally faulty". Under their draft, MP immunity would
be restricted significantly, and only apply to acts of speech and
voting in Parliament. Deputy leader of the Social Democrats Jiri
Dienstbier has labelled this proposal "absurd".

Caslav military airport open again after Russian accident

The military airport in Caslav in eastern Bohemia is open again after
an accident on board a Russian plane on Wednesday. Operations had been
suspended at the airport until Russian investigators could arrive to
study the scene and the plane. When landing the plane apparently
suffered damage to its front landing gear. It swerved off the runway
and a fire broke out on board. Of the 23 passengers and crew, two
Russian soldiers and one Czech remain in hospital with serious burn
injuries. The accident prevented Czech fighters from taking off and
Czech airspace defence had to be taken over by neighbouring countries.

Government human rights commissioner hopes lessons will be learned from
fabricated attack

The government's human rights commissioner Monika Simunkova says the
fabricated attack on a Moravian boy by Roma was damaging to the Roma
community and those who work with stopping social exclusion. She said
she hoped the incident would be a permanent reminder to locals of how
cautiously people should approach media information and warned against
blaming groups of people for the acts of individuals. Residents of
Breclav took to the streets en masse when a fifteen-year-old boy
reported he had been beaten by three Roma. He was hospitalised and lost
a kidney. On Thursday he admitted to police that he had in fact fallen
off one balcony railing on to another and had invented the story for
his mother.

Czech president slams state regulation of energy sector

Speaking at the Energy Gas Storage Summit 2012 in Prague on Thursday,
Czech President Vaclav Klaus said that government regulation of the
energy sector may have a negative impact on electricity prices. He
added that nuclear power was an essential and irreplaceable source of
energy for the Czech Republic. The president also slammed the EU for
its regulation of the energy sector and its propagation of renewable
power sources. In his view, the energy mix should be governed by the
free market, not by EU leaders. He also criticized Germany's plan to
phase out nuclear power by 2022.

Supreme Court rules suspect in highly publicized vandalism case should
be released

The Supreme Court has cancelled a 100-day prison sentence that a former
bus driver was handed for defacing public property. The man will be
released from prison effective immediately. However, a decision on the
case is still pending. Roman Smetana, a former public transport worker
from Olomouc, had added feelers to politicians' heads on campaign
posters and refused to pay a fine for doing so. In early May, Justice
Minister Jiri Pospisil filed a complaint in the man's favour and
appealed to the court to cancel its verdict. He said that it is up to
the court to decide whether the defacing of political campaign posters,
of which Mr Smetana was found guilty, was a criminal offense or merely
a misdemeanour.

Ekonom weekly: Central Bohemia likely to face bankruptcy

The Czech weekly Ekonom writes that Central Bohemia, which has the
country's highest debt, may face bankruptcy. According to official
figures from the Finance Ministry, the region's debt amounts to some
3.7 billion Czech crowns. However, the actual debt is more than double
that figure, the weekly writes, citing former MP Karel Machovec. Mr
Machovec has said that the region is facing bankruptcy. Central Bohemia
became the focus of intense media attention when its governor was
caught with some 7 million crowns in cash on his person. He has been
charged with corruption and mismanagement of EU-funds.

Prague - Heart of the Nations cultural festival begins

The 14th year of the Prague - Heart of the Nations festival kicks off
on Friday on the city's Old Town Square. The two-day international folk
festival highlights various national traditions, minorities and
ethnicities. More than 20 ensembles from as many countries will be
taking part, showcasing in particular regional dance, music and
singing. Parts of the programme will also be held at the Namesti miru
and Jiriho z Podebrad squares. The organisers include civic
associations from across Central Europe and the Balkans.

Prague Food Festival kicks off at Prague Castle

The annual Prague Food Festival starts Friday in the Ball Game Hall
(Micovna) at Prague Castle for the sixth year. This time around, the
three-day gastronomic "holiday" will focus primarily on farm and bio
products. Organisers promise samples from the best chefs, sommeliers
and food and beverage producers from the GRAND RESTAURANT publication
by Pavel Maurer. The open-air festival also includes workshops,
tastings, concerts and contests.


Conditions are expected to be clear to partly cloudy with a chance of
scattered showers and daytime highs in the low twenties Celsius.

Articles posted on today
Hunt Kastner Artworks - helping young Czech artists develop
international careers

Hunt Kastner Artworks in Prague 7 is a private gallery owned and run by
Camille Hunt, who is Canadian, and Katherine Kastner, who is from the
US though her mother is Czech. The two represent 10 Czech artists,
among them Eva Kotatkova, Josef Bolf and Daniel Pitin. This week I
stopped by to talk to the owners about their work, both curating shows
and helping their artists find buyers overseas. I first asked Hunt what
had led them to open the gallery in the first place.
Business News 25.5.2012

In Business News this week: Czech government approves austerity
measures but might run into problems securing EU funds; PM Necas speaks
of the consequences a Greek exit from the eurozone would have on the
Czech Republic; the biggest Czech betting firm Tipsport buys its
competitor; Czechs smoke less and most of them want a ban on smoking in
public spaces; Czechs lie in their CVs more than other nations.
Billboard vandal temporarily released from prison

A former public transport worker - found guilty of defacing public
property - was released from prison on Thursday, 67 days short of his
100-day sentence. The justice minister had filed a complaint in the
man's favour in the hope that the court would determine once and for
all whether defacing a campaign poster constitutes a crime or just a
misdemeanour. His release may only be temporary, pending the decision.

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