Thursday, February 28, 2013

News 2.28.2013

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

News Thursday, February 28th, 2013

By: Ian Willoughby

* Free checks carried out on almost 7,000 bottles of spirits found that
40 contained potentially lethal amounts of methanol.

* Household debt in the Czech Republic fell month-on-month in January
for the first time since September 2001.

* A Senate vote on a motion to file a complaint of treason against the
president will take place on Monday.

* The police have charged a former director of the Prague transport
authority with corruption.

* A Prague court handed a 22-year jail term to an alleged member of a
Russian criminal group over a botched contract killing.

Free checks uncover poisonous spirits

Free checks carried out on almost 7,000 bottles of spirits found that
40 contained potentially lethal amounts of methanol, the Czech
Republic's chief hygiene officer, Vladimir Valenta, said on Thursday.
Mr. Valenta said the tests, which were carried out by officials from
his agency, could have saved the lives of the owners of the spirits.
Last year 42 people died in the Czech Republic from drinking poisonous
bootleg booze and the sale of all spirits was banned for a fortnight.

Czech household debt falls for first time in over 11 years

Household debt in the Czech Republic fell month-on-month in January for
the first time since September 2001, according to data just released.
Last month Czechs owed CZK 1.164 trillion to banks and other financial
institutions, twice the figure recorded 11 years ago. The Czech
Republic is currently going through its longest recession on record and
the decline in household debt suggests that Czechs are worried about
spending, preferring to save than owe money.

Committee recommends senators vote for Klaus treason motion on Monday

The Senate's organisational committee has recommended that senators
approve a motion calling for the filing of a charge of treason against
President Vaclav Klaus at the Constitutional Court. The upper house is
set to vote on the matter on Monday. The motion has been put forward by
a cross-party group of senators. They say Mr. Klaus acted
unconstitutionally by declaring a controversial amnesty in January, as
well as in connection with other decisions. The president, who steps
down next Thursday, has dismissed the vote as a political game. For his
part, Prime Minister Petr Necas said it was the sorriest move he had
seen in two decades in politics.

Police charge former Prague transport authority head over charges of
overpriced contract

The police have charged a former director of the Prague transport
authority, Martin Dvorak, with corruption. The charge relates to the
awarding of a contract to the company Cross Point, which allegedly
earned four times more from selling tickets at metro stations than the
firm which previously provided that service. The transport authority
abrogated its contract with Cross Point last year. For his part, Mr.
Dvorak rejects any accusation of wrongdoing; he says he is himself
preparing to file a complaint against the charges.

Court sentences alleged member of Russian criminal group to 22 years
over botched contract killing

The Prague Municipal Court on Thursday handed a 22-year jail term to
Andranik Soghoyan, an alleged member of the Russian criminal group
known as Vory v Zakone. Mr. Soghoyan, who was tried in absentia was
found guilty of ordering a contract killing on an Armenian businessman;
the court heard, however, that the hired assassin had murdered the
wrong man and stabbed another man. Mr. Soghoyan has twice been
acquitted by a lower court; in both cases an appeals court ruled
against him. Two of his accomplices received terms of 12 and 18 years.

Cuban dissident: persecution as bad as in days of Fidel

Speaking on a week-long visit to Prague, the well-known Cuban blogger
and dissident Yoani Sanchez said the changes implemented by President
Raul Castro did not go far enough and should not hoodwink the world.
She said persecution of the opposition was just as intensive as it had
been under the previous leader, Fidel Castro, and that there had been
no decline in the number of political prisoners or let-up in
censorship. Ms. Sanchez, who is on an extensive tour of Western states,
has been able to travel thanks to an ease in restrictions introduced by
Havana last month.

Details of Zeman inauguration revealed

Details have emerged of plans for the inauguration of Milos Zeman as
president next Friday. After being sworn in a ceremony at the Vladislav
Hall at Prague Castle at 10:00 AM, Mr. Zeman will inspect a military
parade before laying flowers at the remains of Saint Vaclav, the Czech
patron saint, and a wreath at a statue of the first president of
Czechoslovakia, T.G. Masaryk. He will then have lunch with senior
constitutional officials.

Oscar-winning art director Karel Cerny to receive lifetime achievement
Czech Lion

The Oscar-winning art director and production designer Karel Cerny is
to receive a Czech Lion award for extraordinary contribution to Czech
cinematography. Mr. Cerny, who is 90, won the Academy Award for his
work on the 1984 Milos Forman movie Amadeus, much of which was shot in
Prague. The presentation will take place during the Czech Lions, the
country's annual film awards, on Saturday night.

UEFA says Czech FA cannot leave corruption allegations to police

The governing body of European soccer, UEFA, has reacted to a decision
by the Czech Football Association to leave all investigations of
alleged corruption to the Czech police. In a letter the Czech FA is
reported to have received a week ago, UEFA said football disciplinary
proceedings cannot be dependent on results produced by bodies active in
criminal proceedings. However, the chairman of the Czech FA, Miroslav
Pelta, said on Thursday that his organisation and UEFA were in accord
on the matter, which had already been dealt with.


There should be sunny spells in the coming days, with temperatures
reaching a maximum of 6 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Council of Europe urges Czech Republic to improve the lot of people
with mental disabilities

The Council of Europe last week released a report criticizing the Czech
Republic for the way it treats people with mental disabilities. The
criticism targeting the living conditions and rights of this most
vulnerable segment of the population is not the first of its kind. The
Czech authorities have previously come under fire for using caged beds
in mental institutions. On a fact-finding visit to the Czech Republic,
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks went
further, arguing that many of the patients in mental institutions could
be living a more dignified life outside of these walls.

Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez urges Czechs to keep up pressure on
Cuban government

Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez arrived in the Czech Republic this week
on what is her first trip abroad since Cuba's communist authorities
partially lifted restrictions on travelling. Ms Sanchez, best known for
her acclaimed blog Generation Y, is attending the One World festival of
human rights documentaries in the Czech capital.

Third time lucky for legalisation of prostitution?

A group of MPs in the lower house are drafting a new bill on legalising
prostitution - the third such attempt in recent years. Prostitution in
the Czech Republic exists in a sort of legal grey area; prostitution
itself is not illegal, but most of the infrastructure surrounding it -
brothels, pimping and so on - is.

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