NEWS
Crowds celebrate Velvet anniversary
Some 10,000 people gathered yesterday evening in downtown Prague to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism in the former Czechoslovakia. A crowd reprimanded President Václav Klaus earlier in the day when he arrived at Národní třída to lay down a wreath at a memorial for students. Police also detained 48 far-right extremists after they clashed with officers in the city centre.
Source: most Czech press

Sobotka: Communist, Nazi crimes deserve equal wrath
The crimes of the former Communist regime should be prosecuted in Europe to the same extent as those of Nazism, Czech Senate Chairman Přemysl Sobotka told European politicians and the public on Tuesday at a conference held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of Communism across much of Europe.
Source: ČTK

Klaus mulled resigning over Lisbon
President Václav Klaus contemplated giving his resignation over the ratification of the EU-reforming Lisbon Treaty, he told students during a debate at Charles University law faculty in Prague on Monday.
Source: LN 1, 4, Právo 4

Tauscher offers ČR key role in US shield
The Czech Republic should play a “significant role” in the new US anti-missile defence system, Ellen Tauscher, the US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, told journalists after a meeting at the Czech Foreign Ministry on Monday. She did not specify, however, how Prague should participate in the shield system.
Source: ČTK

Klaus pardons 43, including arson victim’s father
To mark the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, President Václav Klaus yesterday pardoned 43 convicted criminals, including four foreigners. Among those released was Pavel Kudrik, the father of a two-year-old Romani girl who was seriously injured in an arson attack this April.
Source: ČTK, MfD A1, A6, Právo 4

Ministry wants toll on Prague inner ring
A new Tranport Ministry decree currently being discussed would ban cars from using the Prague inner ring expressway without a motorway stamp. The law would take effect in less than two months. Prague City Hall and local councils strongly oppose the measure, saying it would greatly increase traffic in the city and would not encourage people to buy the stamp.
Source: HN 9

Hospitals halt flu with visit ban
Hradec Králové teaching hospital, one of the biggest health care facilities in the country, yesterday banned patients from receiving outside visits to guard against complications associated with swine flu. A visit ban was also imposed by other hospitals across the nation, and several schools have been temporarily shut in connection with acute flu-related respiratory diseases.
Source: ČTK, MfD A4

Illegal immigrants shy away from exit scheme
Only 65 foreigners staying in the Czech Republic illegally have used a government voluntary departure programme launched two months ago, Aktuálně.cz reports, referring to Interior Ministry data. Charity groups put the total number of the country’s illegal immigrants at nearly 300,000.
Source: Aktuálně.cz

Czech corruption on the rise
The Czech Republic dropped to 52nd position this year on the table of 180 countries monitored for corruption by NGO Transparency International, after ranking 45th on the ladder last year.
Source: MfD A4

Astrophysicist refuses award
Astrophysicist Jiří Grygar declined a prestigious award from the Research and Development Council on Monday, citing his disapproval of cuts to the state science budget. Council members complained that making the dispute public only hurt the reputation of Czech science abroad. Prime Minister Jan Fischer said that he was exploring different ways to finance science.
Source: LN 1, 5

BUSINESS
E15: Gas pipeline to link ČR, Poland in two years
Czech gas operator RWE Transgas Net plans to build the remaining 10-kilometre section of the Moravia pipeline leading to the Polish border over the next two years, with Polish operator Gaz-System to complete the final part on Polish territory, E15 reports. The project will connect the Czech and Polish gas networks, reinforcing both countries’ energy security. RWE Transgas Net also announced plans to call a public tender in the next three months for a steel pipe for the Czech Gazela gas pipeline extending the Nord Stream pipeline linking Russia and the EU.
Source: E15.cz, E15 8, MfD B2

HN: Tourism crisis to deepen next year
With the Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agents expecting the tourism market to contract by one-fifth this year, travel agencies quoted by HN say next year will be most critical for local tourism. Banks and business partners named Exim Tours as the most stable travel agency, and a Creditreform poll confirmed Exim’s as the most reliable operator for Czech clients followed by Čedok and Canaria Travel. CK Fischer placed fifth on the poll.
Source: HN 17-19

ČSA chair resigns for zoo post
Czech Airlines (ČSA) supervisory board chair Miroslav Zámečník will step down from his post today due to his candidacy as the new Prague zoo director, reports news server iDnes.cz. Zámečník has held the ČSA post since September, and it is unclear who will replace him.
Source: most Czech press

Production prices sink 4.6% in Oct
Industrial production prices fell 4.6% year-on-year in October, slowing down from the 5.4% figure the previous month, the Czech Statistical Office said on Monday. Annual agricultural prices dropped by 19.3% in October. In contrast, prices in the construction sector rose by 0.3% in that month.
Source: ČTK

Govt gets behind rental market
Companies, municipalities and individuals building rental flats will be eligible in the next few weeks for state guarantees of their loans under new regulations adopted on Monday. The new rules are meant to increase national rental options and lower tenants’ fees.The government has put aside CZK 300 million for guarantees this year.
Source: HN 21

Cabinet OK’s solar energy savings
In a move to support renewable energy, ministers approved an amendment on Monday that would significantly reduce purchase prices for electricity from solar plants from 2011.
Source: HN 20, E15 2

Sokolovská cuts brown coal mining
Sokolovská uhelná will lower its brown coal production by 2 million tonnes this year to 8.5 million tonnes so as to extend the lifespan of its mines until 2030. At the current pace, the smallest of the country’s three brown-coal mining firms would run out of brown coal by 2010, the company’s head and majority owner František Štěpánek said.
Source: HN 17

Average Czech wage soars after Communism
Czechs can now secure roughly 1,200 US dollars for their average wage, compared with some 100 dollars shortly after the fall of communism 20 years ago, an analysis by Citco-finanční trhy has revealed.
Source: ČTK, Aktuálně.cz

HN: False anti-virus tools threaten users
More malicious software imitating anti-virus programs is flooding the Czech online environment, following the global rise in false antiviral programs whose makers exploit users’ awareness about computer security. In October, fake anti-virus software ranked as the most frequent online threat, HN reports, citing a study by software provider Eset.
Source: HN 21

Cabinet backs away from Friday lorry ban
The government will withdraw a bill from the lower house for a full-year ban on lorries on public roads on Friday afternoons, PM Jan Fischer said after a cabinet meeting on Monday. Cabinet accepted the arguments of Transport Minister Gustáv Slamečka that Friday lorry traffic should be reduced by applying a higher toll.
Source: ČTK

Alstom unions dispute plant closure
Union representatives from engineering company Alstom will meet today with the company’s French management, which plans to shut its Brno plant employing some 400 staff owing to the economic crisis. The unions demand severance pay equal to 24 monthly wages plus a refund of retraining costs, and they have not ruled out a strike, Alstom union leader Jaromír Machala said on Monday.
Source: ČTK

Prague-Helsinki flights cancelled due to strike
More than 750 pilots at Finnish national carrier Finnair launched a strike on Monday, cancelling all domestic and international flights, including those between Prague and Helsinki.
Source: ČTK