NEWS

Prague to launch info line on Obama visit

Prague City Hall next week is planning to set up a free information phone line in preparation for US President Barack Obama’s April visit. The line will provide information on traffic limitations and other obstructions in the capital. The areas most affected include around the Congress Centre, Prague Airport and Evropská street. Prague Castle will be closed entirely from 3 April to 6 April.

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Sparta faces fines, stadium closure over fan action

Football club Sparta Praha faces up to a CZK 10 million fine and the closure of its stadium for up to three matches after a fan threw a homemade explosive next to a boy standing on the pitch. Police are still looking for the offender.

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Prague to restore fire-damaged Industrial Palace

Prague City Hall says it wants to restore the fire-damaged left wing of the Industrial Palace in Prague’s Holešovice. The reconstruction is expected to cost around CZK 1.5 billion. City councillor Milan Richter says he believes the city will get enough money from the insurance of the building’s current tenant, Incheba, to cover the cost.

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ČT demanding Dalík support claims against reporter

Czech Television (ČT) is demanding Marek Dalík, a friend of the prime minister, provide evidence to support his accusation that ČT reporter Dalibor Bártek demanded a bribe in exchange for agreeing to drop a report on the police investigation of MP Petr Wolf. Dalík told Lidové noviny yesterday that Bártek asked for money to scrap the report. Later, in a radio interview, Dalík said Bártek did not want money. ČT wants Dalík to either support his claim or to publicly apologise.

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MPs may block Friday lorry ban

The Transport Ministry wants to block a bill that would ban lorry traffic from roads on Friday afternoons, saying the move would help hauliers in a time of economic crisis. The lower house is likely to vote on the bill this week.

HN 1, 3

Measure restricts videotaping of MPs

Journalists are now banned from using video cameras in the entry hall of the lower house, according to a measure effective yesterday. MPs can only be videotaped and photographed in the lower house new press centre.

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Cabinet not to discuss radar

PM Mirek Topolánek told journalists yesterday the cabinet would not discuss the planned US missile defence system right now. The cabinet does not have a majority in the lower house at the moment, and Topolánek wants to avoid having the radar agreements be rejected. Opposition leader Jiří Paroubek called the cabinet’s move cowardly.

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Lower house to discuss cabinet no confidence vote 24 March

The opposition ČSSD wants the lower house to hold a no confidence vote on the cabinet in an extraordinary session 24 March. Press reports say the Social Democrats have a better chance at succeeding this time than in their four previous attempts.

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Lower house approves abandoning all health reforms but one

MPs voted yesterday to scrap four out of five health reform laws proposed by former Health Minister Tomáš Julínek. The law about ambulance services remains. The ruling coalition wanted all five proposed reforms to be re-evaluated.

ČTK

Crime victims will be able to demand compensation from perpetrator

Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil wants to propose by the end of this year a penal code amendment that would allow crime victims to demand compensation for psychological damages. Victims would be able to submit their requests during court proceedings. The court would then decide on the level of compensation.

ČTK

Poll: ČSSD would win election; ODS gaining support

According to the latest survey by the STEM polling agency, ČSSD would win 92 seats and 35.3% of the vote if a general election were held now. ODS would gain 69 seats and 27.8% of the vote. Compared with last month, ČSSD improved its position by one seat and ODS by five seats. The Greens, the Communists and KDU-ČSL would all win enough votes to gain parliament seats.

ČTK

Detectors to help keep illegal mobile phones out of prisons

The Prison Service of the Czech Republic is looking for ways to prevent prisoners from smuggling mobile phones into prisons. The prison in Kynšperk nad Ohří will test special metal detector frames in parts of the prison in order to detect mobile phones.

ČTK

BUSINESS

Labour Ministry launches project to save 70,000 jobs

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has launched a project to save 70,000 jobs by trying to convince firms not to lay off employees. With the help of EU grant money totalling CZK 3.3 billion, the state wants to pay companies the base wages up to three times the minimum wage for employees planning to undergo further training, Minister Petr Nečas announced yesterday.

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HN: Nine companies interested in Czech Airlines

Nine companies have expressed interest in buying Czech Airlines, according to Hospodářské noviny, including official bidders Russia’s Aeroflot and the French-Dutch holding Air France-KLM. Deputy Finance Minister Ivan Fuksa said a strong eastern airline that does not yet have a main hub in Europe would be the best partner. China Southern and Korean Air are among the rumoured bidders. The deadline for submitting bids is Monday.

HN 15

Online retailer pays CZK 7m to compensate clients

Czech online retailer Internet Mall will spend CZK 7 million to compensate 35,000 customers who ordered items during the past six months but whose orders were delayed due to technical problems connected with the company’s transition to SAP. Each customer will get CZK 200.

HN 20

Czech Railways to operate bus services

Czech Railways is planning to launch bus services that would complement the company’s existing train routes.

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Phone scam redirects mobile users to Liechtenstein sex line

Czech mobile phone users are reporting a new scam in which they get a phone call from a Liechtenstein-based number (+423662816130). If they call back, they are immediately redirected to an erotic hotline and charged for an international phone call. Telephone operators say they are registering about 30,000 such phone calls a day and have promised to block the number.

HN 15

Poland’s Mokate acquires coffee producer Marila

Polish food-processing group Mokate has acquired Czech coffee producer Marila Balírny in the group’s third acquisition on the Czech market after purchasing teamaker Dukát and coffee producer Timex. According to the head of Mokate’s Czech operations, Zbyněk Skopalík, joint revenue at both companies could reach CZK 1 billion.

ČTK

Zentiva calls general meeting on takeover

The pharmaceutical company Zentiva has called an extraordinary general meeting for 2 April to discuss the company’s planned takeover by the French firm Sanofi-Aventis, Reuters reported yesterday. Sanofi, which holds 96.8% shares in the company, succeeded in February in buying out Zentiva at CZK 1,150 per share.

ČTK

ČTÚ: Czech Television best at expanding digital coverage

According to the Czech Telecommunication Office, Czech Television (ČT) expanded its coverage of digital broadcasting more than any other TV station in the Czech Republic. Sixty-one percent of the population now has a ČT digital signal, up by 51% in September.

ČTK

Businesses trying to make most of rising birth rate

Businesses are trying to take advantage of the rising birth rate in the Czech Republic and are introducing special offers to entice new parents, who typically spend tens of thousands of crowns in the first year of a child’s life.

ČTK