Tuesday, June 19, 2012

News 6.19.2012

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

News Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

By: Christian Falvey

* The government has approved a 15-million-crown boost for the police
budget to better handle anti-government protests.

* President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed a bill that would allow authorities
to ban repeat offenders from a location for up to three months.

* Tobacco prices are set to increase as the government has approved new
consumption taxes.

* Doctors' unions are preparing two new protests, one national and one

* Czechs are mostly happy with the state of the natural environment in
the country, according to a new poll.

Government approves extra money for police to handle demonstrations

The government has approved a proposal by Interior Minister Jan Kubice
to increase the budget of the Prague police by 15 million crowns in
order to better handle anti-government protests. The bulk of the
amount, 10 million crowns, is intended to cover police overtime and
standby duty, with another three requested for insurance and two
million for fuel, transport and catering for the police during
demonstrations. The minister told the cabinet that with its decreased
budget it lacks the funding for out of the ordinary events. An
anti-government demonstration at Wenceslas Square on April 21 drew tens
of thousands of people and was likely the largest protest since the
Velvet Revolution in 1989.

Klaus vetoes bill allow local authorities to ban repeat offenders

President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed a bill that would allow authorities
to ban repeat offenders from a location for up to three months. Mr
Klaus said the legislation is ill-conceived, easy to abuse and probably
unconstitutional. He also pointed out the government, the ombudsman and
the parliamentary committee for social policy has been opposed to the
legislation. The bill was proposed by controversial MP Ivana Rapkova,
who is well known for crackdowns on 'non-adaptable' urban residents.
Under the proposal, non-residents could have been temporarily banned
from a location for prostitution, drinking or begging, among other

Tobacco prices to increase from next year

Tobacco prices are set to increase as the government has approved new
consumption taxes. A gradual increase of four crowns per pack of
cigarettes will likely be made over the next two years. The Finance
Ministry expects the tax to bring in 1.4 billion crowns next year and
1.9 billion in 2014, with inflation over that time expected to rise by
0.14%. The minimum consumption tax per cigarette will thus rise from
2.10 crowns to 2.25 crowns.

Doctors' unions preparing two new protests

Doctors' unions have announced two new protests against hospital
salaries. Without stating further details, the unions said that one
protest would be a cooperative effort with the countries of the
Visegrad Group in the autumn. The other will be a long-term national
protest for which no date has been set. Organisers said only that the
events were aimed at hurting the reform government rather than patients.

Omnipol profited much less from CASA deal than reported, says director

The gross margin that the Omnipol arms company gained for mediating the
purchase of CASA transport military planes for the Defence Ministry has
reached 85 million crowns now, director Michal Hon said Tuesday,
dismissing media reports of hundreds of millions in profits. He also
dismissed a report by the firm American Appraisal which said the Czech
state lost 658 million crowns in the deal. The police want parliament
to release MP Vlasta Parkanova for prosecution over the allegedly
disadvantageous contract, which was signed by her deputy when she was
defence minister in 2009.

National Bank reports that the banking sector is resilient

The Czech National Bank reports that the banking sector is resilient,
according to the results of stress tests. The central bank's report
says that stability should not be jeopardised even in the event of a
very unfavourable development, in which case however some institutions
would suffer losses that might require billions in capital injections
from shareholders. The results of the tests are similar to those made
in the past. The bank also tested the insurance and pension funds
sectors and found that the latter remains highly vulnerable to large
fluctuations in the prices of its securities.

Constitutional Court rejects Rath complaint

The Constitutional Court has rejected a complaint from imprisoned MP
David Rath regarding his prosecution. The former health minister and
governor of Central Bohemia, who was arrested in May after receiving
seven million crowns, protested against a number of aspects of his
case, including his house search and detention. The court found no
encroachment into the MP's constitutional rights and said he was not
qualified to complain as he had not exhausted other legal avenues.

Social Democrats continue poll decline in wake of Rath scandal

Polls indicate that the opposition Social Democratic Party continues to
suffer popularity losses due to the scandal around David Rath. One of
the party's most vocal national politicians, Dr Rath resigned his party
membership shortly after being arrested last month, but has since
indicated that the money he was caught and arrested with may have been
part of a party financing scheme. The STEM polling agency suggests that
Social Democrat preference has tumbled to less than 22% from 23.3% in
May and 37% in late April. The Communist party also lost slightly while
TOP 09 improved its chances by nearly two points - all of which entails
that the left would not have a constitutional majority in Parliament if
elections were held today.

Havel Library publishes selection of speeches on Europe

The Vaclav Havel Library has published an extended selection of
speeches given by the Czechoslovak and Czech president Havel entitled
"Evropa jako ukol" (Europe As Task). The volume was presented at the
conference Federalism and Europe held by the library on Tuesday.
Library director Martin Palous said it is was clear that some of
Havel's speeches still apply to today, while the messages of others are
limited to the time of writing. Havel supported a gradual and deeper
federalisation of Europe, a possibility currently being debated at
present as a response to the present crisis.

Czechs mostly satisfied with environment conditions

Czechs are mostly happy with the state of the natural environment in
the country, according to a poll conducted by the CVVM agency. The
survey suggested that three fifths of Czechs are satisfied with the
environment nationally, and three out of four give a positive
assessment of the environment where they live. Residents of the more
industrial regions of Moravia-Silesia, Usti nad Labem and Prague were
more likely to be dissatisfied - in north Moravia usually due to water
quality and in Prague due to traffic and noise. The regions rated
highest were Olomouc and Vysocina.


Conditions should be mostly cloudy with scattered showers or storms and
daytime highs around 26oC

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

President vetoes controversial banishment bill

Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Tuesday vetoed a controversial bill
which would give towns the power to banish repeat offenders without
permanent residence from their territory for up to three months.
Authors of the legislation say it will provide a much needed tool to
fight petty crime and misdemeanours. But the president sided with the
bill's critics and said it might be in breach of the constitution.


Scrapped electronic health records projects could result in
international arbitration case

Just a month after the government gave the thumbs down to a costly and
inefficient electronic health project, there are indications that it
could be facing another international arbitration case over the
decision. The minority shareholder in the joint stock company which
masterminded the ill-fated project has stated in no uncertain terms
that it considers the decision illegal and is ready to take the case to
court to defend its interests.


The Bohemian Quarter - a chapter of Czech history in the heart of Berlin

In the heart of Berlin's Neukolln neighborhood is Rixdorf, an area that
is also known as the Bohemian Village. The settlement originated in the
first half of the 18th century, under the auspices of the Prussian King
Friedrich Wilhelm I., who welcomed Bohemian Protestant refugees into
his empire. In the Habsburg Empire, they had been banned from
exercising their faith. We recently visited this fascinating area of
Berlin and talked to Cordelia Polinna,, the director of the Bohemian
Museum, which is devoted to the history of this neighborhood.


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