Friday, February 1, 2013

News 2.1.2013

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

News Friday, February 1st, 2013

By: Jan Richter

* The police have accused 25 mayors of having taken out government
grants to repair fictional damages to public property.

* The Supreme Administrative Court has received nine complaints against
the presidential election.

* The unemployment rate rose to 7.2 percent in the last quarter of 2012.

* The authorities have raised the level of flood alert on the Labe
River in the northern town of Decin.

* Defending Davis Cup champions the Czech Republic are tied 1:1 against
Switzeland after Friday' singles in the competition's first round.

Police accused mayors over unjustified grants

The police have accused 27 people, including 25 former and current
mayors of municipalities in the northern Usti region, for having taken
out government grants to repair damages that never occurred, a
spokesman for the anti-corruption unit of the police said on Friday.
The mayors applied for grants to the Ministry of Regional Development
in 2009 and 2010 to reconstruct public property damaged by torrential
rain and other natural causes. The police however discovered that no
such damaged occurred. The former and current mayors are accused of
embezzling some 125 million crowns, and face up to 12 years in prison.

Top court receives nine complaints against direct presidential vote

The Czech Supreme Administrative Court has received nine complaints
over the recent direct presidential election, the news agency CTK
reported on Friday. The agency said one of the petitions came from an
activist who complains about the decision by the Interior Ministry to
disqualify two aspirants - Vladimir Dlouhy and Tomio Okamura - from the
race; another complaint is reportedly related to the choice of members
of election committees overseeing the voting. A Czech anti-corruption
group said they would also file a complaint because of an alleged
breach of the voting law which they believe took place when a supporter
of Milos Zeman ran a full-page advertisement against the other
candidate in the running, Karel Schwarzenberg, on the first day of
voting in the second round. People can file complaints against the
election until February 5; the court will than have 15 days to review

Unemployment rose to 7.2 pct in Q4 of 2012

The unemployment rate in the last quarter of 2012 reached 7.2 percent,
which was 0.7 percent more than in the same period in the previous
year, according to figures by the Czech Statistical Office released on
Friday. The authorities registered some 380,000 jobless people in the
last three months of 2012, which was 44,000 more year-on-year. The
number of those unemployed for over a year rose as well, and they now
account to over 42 percent of the total number of jobless people.
Analysts say the fresh data confirm a negative trend of rising
unemployment. Although companies are not laying off workers en masse,
those who are made redundant are having trouble finding work.

Finance Ministry: state budget in record surplus in January

The Czech state budget in January ended in a surplus of 42.4 billion
crowns, the highest surplus since 2000, the Finance Ministry said on
Friday. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said the figure did not take
into account a hike in the VAT rates which came into effect on January
1, raising the dual VAT rates by one percent. The target deficit for
the entire 2013 was set at 100 billion crowns; last year, the deficit
reached 101 billion, or around 3 percent of the GDP.

Czech PRT set to leave Afghanistan

The Czech Provincial Reconstruction Team in the Afghan province of
Logar is leaving the country after five years. Of the 300-strong
reconstruction team, around 100 workers will stay behind for another
six months to supervise the transfer of equipment from the base in
Logar to the Czech Republic. In place of the reconstruction mission,
the Czech Republic will send military consultants to assist the Afghan
army with the training of troops. During its mission in Afghanistan,
the Czech reconstruction team has completed over 140 projects including
the construction of schools, hospitals, and waterways.

Flood alert level raised on Labe in Decin

The authorities on Friday raised the level of flood alert on the Labe
River in the northern town Decin after several roads and a square near
the river were flooded. Meteorologists expect that water levels on the
Labe in Decin will continue to rise on Friday night. A flood alert has
also been declared for most parts of Bohemia following a spell of warm
weather which melted snow and swelled rivers in recent days.

Ministry provides security detail for president-elect's family

The Interior Ministry has allocated a security detail to protect the
family of president-elect Milos Zeman, a spokesman for the ministry
said on Friday. Mr Zeman asked for the protection of his family after
he was elected Czech president on Saturday. His 18-year-old daughter,
Katerina, participated in his campaign; Mr Zeman even suggested she
play the role of the "first miss" as his wife wished to stay out of the
public arena. The security detail will be reinforced after Mr Zeman's
inauguration on March 8.

Venus of Vestonice to be exhibited at British Museum

The Venus of Vestonice, a ceramic figurine believed to be 29,000 years
old and considered one of the oldest artefacts of its kind in the
world, will be featured at an exhibition at the British Museum in
London. The Moravian Museum in Brno has lent the Venus of Vestonice,
along with 24 other artefacts, to the British Museum for the exhibit
entitled Ice Age Art: Arrival of Modern Mind which starts on February 7
and will last until the end of May, a spokeswoman for the Moravian
Museum said. The figurine, discovered in Dolni Vestonice in 1925, is
rarely exhibited abroad.

New motorway toll sticker comes in use

A new, 2013 motorway toll sticker comes into use on Friday. The sticker
can be purchased at post offices and gas stations. The price of the
annual coupon remains 1,500 crowns, or some 80 US dollars. Coupons are
also available for the period of ten days and one month. Drivers
without a valid sticker can be fined up to 5,000 crowns.

Tennis: Czechs tied 1:1 against Switzerland in Davis Cup's first round

Defending Davis Cup champions the Czech Republic are tied 1:1 against
Switzerland after Friday's singles matches of the competition's first
round in Geneva. Tomas Rosol lost 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 to Stanislas Wawrinka
in the first singles match; Czech number one Tomas Berdych then
defeated Henri Laaksonen 6-3, 6-2, 6-7, 6-1. On Saturday, the Czech
pair Ivo Minar, Jiri Vesely are set to face the Swiss Marco
Chiudinelli, Stanislas Wawrinka.


The weekend will be overcast with rain and snow in higher places.
Daytime highs should range between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Business News 1.2.2013

In Business News this week: The Czech Ministry of Finance cuts its
growth outlook for the year to almost zero; fresh figures show 7.2
percent of Czechs were jobless in Q4 2012; passenger numbers and
flights were down at Prague airport last year; spas report a halving of
business in just three months; and experts say luxury flats in Prague
have maintained their value.

Czech performers take part in prestigious theater festival in New York

This January, a number of theater and dance troupes from the Czech
Republic participated in an annual international APAP performing arts
festival in New York City. The Czech Centre in New York hosted all of
the Czech performances this year, for the second year in a row, at
their Bohemian Hall space in Manhattan. In this week's Arts, we spoke
to the director of the Czech Centre in New York, Pavla Niklova, about
organizing the performances for APAP, how some of the pieces resonated
with a New York audience, and what Czech theater companies can bring to
the American theatre capital. Ms Niklova first described what the APAP
festival entails.

New bill to introduce dual citizenship

The new bill on citizenship passed the first reading in the lower house
of parliament. If passed into law, it will introduce stricter testing
for foreigners applying for Czech citizenship and allow the state to
look into the sources of applicants' assets. But there are also some
changes that applicants are likely to welcome. Magda Faltova, the
director of the Prague-based Association for Integration and Migration,
highlighted the main pros and cons of the proposed law.

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