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Breakfast Brief – 19 August 2009

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Table of Contents

Four ultra right activists charged with Vítkov arson
One of the four men arrested for this April’s arson attack on a Romani home in Vítkov is Jaromír Lukeš, a well-known neo-Nazi activist and event organiser. The other three are reportedly all classmates from a Horní Benešov primary school. Locals described the accused men to Mladá fronta Dnes as “nice and laid-back boys” while Lidové noviny reports their negative attitude to Roma was well-known.
Source: most Czech press

PM and Kohout: No comment on deported Czech diplomats
The Russian media agency Interfax reported yesterday that Russia had deported two Czech diplomats in an act of retaliation against the Czech expulsion of two Russian officials. Neither the Czech Foreign Ministry nor the Moscow embassy could confirm the information. Commenting yesterday on the deported Russians, Defence Minister Martin Barták said Czech military intelligence was doing its job well while Foreign Minister Jan Kohout rejected his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov’s comment that the deportation was “more provocation”.
Source: most Czech press

Justice Min to reopen Čunek’s case
Justice Minister Daniela Kovářová plans to reopen the case of former Deputy PM and ex-KDU-ČSL leader Jiří Čunek. The minister said she will file an action with the Supreme Court about the handling of the case of Čunek’s alleged corruption in 2007, adding that she will try to publish the whole case file. Čunek welcomed the move. Former Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil told Tý it is impossible to file a complaint against the suspension of an investigation.
Source: most Czech press

Špotáková wins silver at World Champs
With a 66.42-metre javelin throw, defending champion Barbora Špotáková claimed second spot at the World Championships in Berlin behind 37-year-old German Steffi Nerius. Špotáková called her performance poor, but said that she was satisfied with silver.
Source: most Czech press

ODS and ČSSD unroll plans for 2010 budget
Claiming the current provisional 2010 state budget is unacceptable, the Civic and Social Democrats have each confirmed their fiscal plans. ODS says it will approve the budget straight after the October elections with a CZK 200-plus billion deficit then introduce an 18-month budget from the second half of 2010, while ČSSD will allow the new budget before the end of this year. ODS will also save by having single offices handle payments of income and duty taxes and social and health insurance.
Source: most Czech press

Delay on state takeover of workers’ comp
A new law that will pass the handling of workers’ compensation claims from two commercial insurance companies to the state has been shelved for another three years, under an amendment signed by President Václav Klaus yesterday. The postponed law will transfer the claims from Kooperativa and Česká pojišťovna, which handle them under the labour code. It will now come into force on 1 January 2013.
Source: ČTK

City Hall abandons Janoušek probe
Prague City Hall has wound up its investigation of the alleged links between businessman Roman Janoušek, who has been investigated by Swiss police on suspicion of money laundering, and two top city hall employees Jiří Toman and Petr Ďurica. Both employees yesterday denied they had access to Janoušek’s Swiss bank account, and city hall council accepted the explanation.
Source: ČTK

Prague zoo chief gets NY post
Troja Zoo head Petr Fejk has announced he is leaving the post he’s held for the last 12 years on 1 November, to take up a new post at the Czech National Building in New York. Prague’s mayor, Pavel Bém, said a new zoo head would be appointed by the end of October.
Source: most Czech press

Only one in three nurses gets wage rise
A poll conducted by the nurses’ association (ČAS) shows that only one third of nurses received a salary increase in June and July of this year. The Health Ministry had said earlier that salaries should rise by an average of 15% in all health institutions, but it cannot force these changes in hospitals it does not run directly. A spokeswoman for ČAS, Irena Pejznochová, said the wages of nurses in teaching hospitals and state-run institutions grew while those in some regional and private hospitals were unchanged.
Source: Právo 2, MfD A5, ČTK

Councils given longer to approve demos
President Václav Klaus yesterday approved an amendment extending the time for municipalities to decide on whether to permit demonstration from three calendar to three working days. The change is designed to fight extremism.
Source: LN 4

Czech scientists find cause of kidney disease
Scientists from the Institute of Inherited Metabolic Disorders at Charles University yesterday presented their findings explaining the genetic cause of a rare hereditary kidney disease. The disease is caused by changes to the gene responsible for production of the enzyme renin, which also plays a key role in regulating high blood pressure. The discovery will allow for the drug treatment of families carrying the gene.
Source: ČTK

Govt approves tax relief for mortgage interest
All interest on mortgages will be tax deductible, regardless of refinancing, says a decision yesterday from the Finance Ministry. Deputy Finance Minister Peter Chrenko said the ministry was responding to market pressures discouraging mortgage refinancing.
Source: most Czech press

Restrictions could lift on digital TV owners
Czech cabinet yesterday approved a change to broadcasting law that will let telecom firms operate more than two public digital TV networks. The change, which is part of an EU directive package on on-demand audiovisual and media services, now awaits approval from MPs due to discuss it in September.
Source: LN 14

ČEZ to get EUR 200m loan from EIB
ČEZ has signed a loan contract with the European Investment Bank that will provide EUR 200 million for development of the energy giant’s distribution network in the Czech Republic. The company can start using the loan in the next few weeks.
Source: ČTK

Škoda launches Superb in China
Car manufacturer Škoda unrolled its Superb model on the Chinese market yesterday following strong results this year. The number of Škoda vehicles sold to Chinese customers was 57.2% higher in the first seven months of 2009 than at the same time last year.
Source: E15 9

State can take over troubled banks
President Václav Klaus yesterday signed a crisis-driven amendment to bank law that will let the state take over banks experiencing serious financial problems.
Source: ČTK

Expert: Foreign investment will plunge
State agency CzechInvest expects this year’s volume of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Czech Republic to be less than 50% of last year’s result. CzechInvest head, Alexandra Rudyšarová, said FDI volume had already slipped to CZK 5 billion in the first half of the year. Last year’s FDI slightly exceeded CZK 20 billion.
Source: ČTK

CK Fischer leaves travel association
Travel agent CK Fischer has ended its membership of the Association of Czech Travel Agents (AČCKA) due to the statements of association spokesman and board member Tomio Okamura. CK Fischer claims Okamura has presented personal opinions violating the association’s aims and principles. AČCKA President Roman Škrabánek said the association and Okamura cooperate actively with CK Fischer, and a surprised Okamura added he often consulted CK Fischer head Jiří Jelínek.
Source: ČTK, HN 13, 16, Právo 5

ČKD closes deal on Mochovce plant
ČKD PRAHA DIZ yesterday signed a contract worth CZK 880 million to supply two diesel generators for the third and fourth installations at the Slovak nuclear power plant in Mochovce. The company will start construction in the spring, and both generators should be delivered in 2012.
Source: ČTK

Agrofert posts record CZK 6.8bn profit
Agrofert Holding last year increased its net profit to CZK 6.8 billion from CZK 861.25 million in 2007. Agrofert’s revenue reached CZK 19.88 billion, up from CZK 17.69 billion in 2007. Owner Andrej Babiš attributed the increase to the expansion of agricultural commodity trading, especially rapeseed.
Source: MfD B1, ČTK

This year’s harvest behind schedule
A report from the Agriculture Ministry shows Czech farmers have already harvested some 81% of crops, however this year’s harvest is lagging slightly behind due to rainy weather in June and July. The ministry said the current hectare revenue of grain is slightly below average, but it is higher for rapeseed.
Source: ČTK

Cinemas gear up for visitor boom
Owners and operators are investing in upgrades to multiplexes due to an expected boom in visitor numbers with the digitalisation of movie houses. Investments totalling tens of millions of crowns mainly cover purchases of digital projectors.
Source: E15 1, 6

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