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Breakfast Brief – 10 August 2009

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Poll: Social Democrats would win election
The Social Democrats would claim 34.8% of votes, with the Civic Democrats trailing at 31.4% if elections were held now, according to a July survey by Median polling agency. The ČSSD has strengthened its position by almost two percentage points since last month.
Source: LN 3 Sat, Právo 1, 2 Sat

Ministry wants to ditch speed camera warnings
The Transport Ministry wants to remove signs currently warning of the presence of police speed cameras on roads ahead. Under the plan, the signs, which the ministry says are redundant, would be dropped from the start of 2010. Drivers exceeding the speed limit by up to 5km/hr would be fined without losing penalty points. Police welcome the plan.
Source: most Czech press

Former prisoner: StB used drugs
A former political prisoner, Jan Janků, who was sentenced to twenty years in prison in the 1950s, has said he was given drugs while being interrogated by the Communist-era secret police (StB). This is the first time a witness has spoken publicly about these practices although it is widely understood that drugs were used during StB investigations. Tomáš Bursík from the Institute of Contemporary History said Janků’s testimony could help clarify some of the less known abuses by the secret police.
Source: MfD A1, A3 Sat

Police have eye on Topolánek Tuscany affair
Lidové noviny reports that police are monitoring media reports about ODS leader Mirek Topolánek’s recent holiday in Italy where he was photographed with a number of powerful Czech businessmen and lobbyists, including ČEZ chairman Martin Roman. The media is speculating about whether Topolánek paid for the trip himself.
Source: ČTK, LN 1, 2 Sat

Poll: Schwarzenberg most trusted leader
Karel Schwarzenberg, who heads the new conservative TOP09 party, is the most trusted political party leader, according to a Factum Invenio survey commissioned by the Social Democrats. ČSSD head Jiří Paroubek placed second, one percentage point behind Schwarzenberg. Some 72% of the 821 respondents said they did not trust ODS leader Mirek Topolánek.
Source:, LN 3 Sat

Zoo director may head Czech centre in NY
Prague zoo director Petr Fejk is in talks with the Foreign Ministry about his possible appointment as head of the Bohemian National Hall in New York. The art nouveau building in Manhattan hosts the New York Czech Center and the Czech consulate general.
Source: most Czech press

Flood-stricken regions may get subsidy
Regions affected by the June floods, as well as areas providing rental housing to people dislodged by the floods, will be eligible for a subsidy of up CZK 1 million subsidy per house, under a Ministry for Regional Affairs plan announced on Friday. Cabinet will vote on the measure next week.
Source: ČTK,

ČSSD exceeded EU election budget by 20m
Právo reports that the Social Democrats’ spending on the European Parliament elections in June exceeded CZK 60 million, CZK 20 million more than was originally planned. The ODS spent CZK 40 million on the EU campaign, while the Communists and KDU-ČSL spent CZK 17 million and CZK 5 million, respectively.
Source: Právo 2 Sat

Roma groups join forces against extremism
Czech and Slovak Roma rights groups plan to sign an agreement aimed at fighting extremism, said the head of Dženo association Ivan Veselý at a recent international conference on Roma issues held in Mělník. Participants of the conference also agreed to establish a new association of European Romani civic organisations.
Source: Aktuálně.cz

Family will get pay-out for persecution under communism
The Kořínek family will receive CZK 500,000 in compensation for their suffering under the communist regime, the Brno Regional Court ruled on Friday. The communist authorities persecuted family members over their religious beliefs and political views, deprived them of their legal rights and took away their four children. The Justice Ministry must also make a formal apology to the family.
Source: LN 4 Sat, MfD A4 Sat

Romani arson victim woken from induced coma
Doctors from the Ostrava teaching hospital have awoken a comatose two-year-old Romani girl who was severely injured in an arson attack in Vítkov earlier this year. Her condition remains serious, according to a hospital spokesman.
Source: LN 1, 3 Sat, Právo 1, 5 Sat

Survey: Czechs among world’s biggest whiners
Czechs rank fourth among the worst complainers about customer services, according to a survey by Canada’s CBC News, which questioned 23,000 people from 23 countries in the industrialised world. Právo reports that Czechs mostly complain about rotten food, poor service by travel agencies and undersized beers.
Source: ČTK, Právo 1, 2 Sat

Chamber of Commerce OKs interest rate cuts
The Czech Chamber of Commerce supports the central bank’s decision last Thursday to cut interest rates by 0.25 percentage points to 1.25%. Chamber president Petr Kužel said banks may still choose not to reduce their own interest rates. The chamber also said that companies will have time to prepare for the further strengthening of the Czech crown, which the Czech National Bank expects to reach CZK 25.3 to the euro in 2011.

ČSA freezes managers’ salaries, ups bonuses
Mf Dnes reports that Czech Airlines’ (ČSA) board of directors has decided to freeze the salaries of the firm’s managers for this year while agreeing to pay them bonuses of up to 130% of salaries if the company’s profit is zero or positive, or 100% if this year’s losses fall below the expected 450 million. Managers’ bonuses for last year stood at 40%. ČSA earlier agreed with trade unions to cut salaries company-wide by 5%.
Source: MfD A1, A7 Sat, HN 1

ČKD Blansko Holding wins tender in Poland
ČKD Blansko Holding, J&T’s investment group succeeding the bankrupt ČKD Blansko, has won a tender to undertake a general overhaul of a Polish hydroelectric power plant. The Žydowo plant is worth some CZK 400 million and is the company’s biggest project so far, the company’s CEO Petr Švec has said.
Source: ČTK

Major solar power plant planned for Uherský Brod
Prague-based copany Divalia is planning to build a large solar power plant with an electricity output of 9.9 megawatts near Uherský Brod. The construction of the plant, which would be linked to the E.ON distribution network, is slated to begin in September.
Source: ČTK

Failed firm may lose Pakistan projects
HN reports the insolvency of PA Export, formerly Škodaexport, has put two of its power plant projects in Pakistan under threat. Stopping construction in Muridke and Balloki could cause losses of up to CZK 3 billion to the Czech state and suppliers, banks and insurers involved, according to CEO Štěpán Sádecký. ČKD Group, the owner of PA Export, claims the company had CZK 1 billion worth of hidden defects when it was bought from the state last year, but all complaints to the Finance Ministry and Czech Export Bank have been futile.
Source: HN 17

Prague office rentals keep dropping
Office space rental prices in Prague in Q2 were 4.3% down from Q1, according to a report from King Sturge consultancy. Cushman & Wakefiled real estate consultancy said there was rising demand from investors for high-end commerical real estate at the end of Q2 and the start of H2.
Source: E15 1, 4

Closed circuit TV on the rise
The Personal Data Protection Office (ÚOOÚ) registered 1470 applications for closed circuit TV cameras last year, up 100% from 2007. There is currently no law regulating the use of CCTV cameras in the Czech Republic.
Source: LN 1, 4

EIB to help upgrade local sewers
The European Investment Bank (EIB) will lend CZK 3 billion to the Czech Republic for the construction of water distribution and sewerage systems in small regions with up to 2,000 inhabitants. Municipalities can get up to 80% of their costs.
Source: Aktuálně.cz

Prague’s Buddha Bar among Europe’s hottest new hotels
The Sunday Times has ranked Prague’s Buddha Bar sixth in a survey of the top 20 newly opened hotels in Europe. The newspaper judged hotels based on their architecture, design and decor. The Buddha Bar opened earlier this year.
Source: HN 17

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