Wednesday, January 16, 2013

News 1.16.2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

By: Jan Richter

* Presidential candidates Milos Zeman and Karel Schwazenberg took part
in a Czech Radio debate.

* Two Czechs who had been held in Greece on espionage charges have left
jail on a 5,000 euro bail.

* The Czech government wants to grant the country's intelligence
services the right to access tax returns.

* Former defence minister Martin Bartak is to be charged with
corruption in an army procurement deal.

* Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek have advanced to the third round at
tennis's Australian Open.

Presidential hopefuls clash in Czech Radio debate

With 9 days left before the second round of the Czech presidential
elections, candidates Milos Zeman and Karel Schwarzenberg took part in
a debate hosted by Czech Radio. The presidential hopefuls discussed
their views on a range of issues from central bank and Constitutional
Court appointments to foreign policy and the country's relation to the
EU. Milos Zeman, who came first in the election's first round,
dismissed concerns about his links to the Russian oil firm Lukoil;
Karel Schwarzenberg said, among other things, he would prefer a
majority vote for the lower house. Both candidates also expressed the
view that the Czech Republic should only join the EU's planned banking
union after it adopts the euro.

Czechs held in Greece on espionage charges released from jail

Two Czech citizens held in Greece since September on espionage charges
were released from jail on Wednesday on a 5,000 euro bail. Their
release came after the Greek authorities stated that they did not
represent a security threat. The two video games developers were
arrested and accused of espionage after they took photos of a military
facility on the Greek island of Lemnos. The men said they took the
pictures to use them in a new game. They are expected to arrive in the
Czech Republic on Thursday; however, they might have to return to
Greece for a trial.

Government to allow intelligence services to access tax returns

The Czech government on Wednesday approved legislation granting the
country's intelligence services the right to access tax returns, the
news agency CTK reported. The government believes the move should help
limit economic threats to the country and reveal the ownership
structures of non-transparent firms. Currently, Czech law only allows
tax authorities to provide information to the secret services. The
draft legislation is yet to be debated in the Czech Parliament.

Cabinet approves anti-corruption strategy for next two years

The cabinet on Wednesday also approved an updated anti-corruption
strategy for the years 2013 and 2014. The document, which mainly
focuses on prevention, says political parties and civil servants are at
the core of corruption in the country as they influence public
procurement projects. The strategy recommends the introduction of new
legislation including bills on civil service and the financing of
political parties to make public procurement more transparent.
According to Transparency International, which collaborated on the
strategy, the Czech Republic ranked 54th in the world in the group's
corruption perception index, up from 57th place the previous year.

Former defence minister Bartak to be charged with corruption

After concluding an investigation into a 2008 purchase of Tatra trucks
for the Czech military, the police have proposed that former defence
minister Martin Bartak be prosecuted on corruption charges. The police
believe that in his capacity as deputy defence minister at the time, Mr
Bartak asked a Tatra manager for a five-million-dollar bribe to
smoothen the deal. The police have also raised corruption charges in
the same case against the owner of an arms dealing firm, Michal Smrz,
who mediated the purchase. The prosecution said formal charges against
the men should be filed by the end of the month.

January 16 sees first marking of official day honouring Jan Palach

January 16 is for the first time being marked in the Czech Republic as
a legislatively recognised day honouring Jan Palach. Palach, who was a
student at Charles University, set himself alight on Prague's Wenceslas
Square on that date in 1969 in protest at the resignation of the
Czechoslovak population less than six months after the Soviet-led
invasion that brought to an end the Prague Spring reform communist
movement. He died on January 19, 1969 and his funeral turned into a
significant demonstration against the occupation.

Satellite TV provider fined for misleading advertising

The Czech telecommunications authority on Wednesday fined the
Luxembourg-based operator of satellite TV channels Skylink and CS Link
15 million crowns for misleading advertising. The authority said that
the firm last year imposed a charge on services it originally billed as
free, and failed to inform its clients about the change. The firm said
it would appeal the penalty.

Police shoot robber dead in gas station hold-up

A municipal police officer in the north-eastern town of Karvina on
Tuesday night shot dead a 32-year-old robber who was holding up a gas
station and threatening the assistant. The police arrived at the scene
when the man, armed with a knife, was still inside the gas station.
When the officers asked him to lay down his weapon and step outside, he
took the assistant hostage. One of the policemen then fired two shots
at him, mortally wounding him. The case is now under investigation by
the state police.

Tennis: Berdych, Stepanek advance to Australian Open's third round

Czech tennis players Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek have advanced to
the third round of the Australian Open. The eight-seed Berdych beat
Guillaume Rufin of France 6-2 6-2 6-4 while Stepanek, seeded 31st,
defeated Spain's Feliciano Lopez with the same score. In the women's
singles, Czechs Klara Zakopalova, Lucie Hradecka and Kristyna Pliskova
have all been knocked out of the season-opening event in Melbourne.

Football: troubled striker Fenin joins Slavia Prague

Former Czech international Martin Fenin has joined Slavia Prague, the
club's manager said on Wednesday. The 24-year-old striker left the
Czech top division in 2008 to play for Frankfurt in the German
Bundesliga. But career was hindered by injuries and depression, and he
joined the German second-division club Energie Cottbus in 2011. Fenin
has appeared 16 Czech national team games in which he scored three


The coming days will be mostly overcast with snow across the country.
Daytime highs should range between -5 and -1 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today
Veitnam's BIDV bank: Prague was natural choice for our first office in

The state-owned Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam has
opened its first office in the European Union here in the Czech
Republic. Located in Prague's upmarket Vinohrady district, the BIDV
office is not a full-fledged branch, as the bank is yet to receive a
licence from the Czech central bank. RP sat down with Mr Ngo Minh Khoa
who heads the BIDV's Prague office, to discuss the bank's expansion to
Europe, its strategy in attracting new clients here, and its plans for
the future. We began by asking Mr Ngo why they chose to come to the
Czech Republic in the first place.
Czechs charged with spying in Greece freed after four months

After four months in a Greek jail facing spying charges, two Czech
computer games developers are set to return home very soon. The pair,
who were arrested for taking photos of a military facility on the
island of Lemnos, have been freed on bail in the wake of a fresh ruling
from the Athens authorities stating that they do not represent a
security threat.
Exhibition highlights work of 20th century photographer Gerti Deutsch

The Austrian Cultural Forum in Prague has a new exhibition showcasing
the work of Viennese-born photographer Gerti Deutsch. She grew up in
Vienna and also resided in Paris and Salzburg, but it was in London,
that she began to be taken more seriously as a professional woman. She
began working as a freelance photojournalist for the then-newly founded
'Picture Post'.

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