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Breakfast Brief – 23 February 2009

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NEWS

New hooliganism law fails first test

Riot police had to intervene at yesterday’s football match in Brno after visiting Baník Ostrava fans invaded the pitch and clashed with security officers. Five people were arrested. It was the first outbreak of football violence since a new law making football clubs responsible for stadium security came into force.

most Czech press

Langer: Extend repatriation for fired foreigners

Interior Minister Ivan Langer will propose the cabinet widen the programme for sending laid-off guest workers home if foreigners show sufficient interest. The initial CZK 60 million package would provide EUR 500 and an airline ticket for 2,000 people. The ministry expects some 12,000 guest workers to lose their jobs by mid-March. Shadow Interior Minister František Bublan said that rather than sending unemployed foreigners home, the country should involve them in public works.

HN 2, Právo 1, 3, ČTK

MPs approve rescue package

The lower house approved the government’s anti-crisis plan by a single vote on Friday. The deputies rejected all opposition proposals to alter the cabinet’s block of measures.

Týden.cz, ČTK

Charles, Masaryk lead HN’s uni rankings

Hospodářské noviny published its second annual list of the top Czech universities in nine categories of study. The ratings take into account number of applicants, postgraduate students and students attending programmes abroad. Prague and Brno schools fared best, with the capital’s Charles University ranking first in law and medicine and the social studies faculty at Masaryk University in Brno on top in psychology and sociology.

HN 1, 10

LN: Lisbon Treaty likely to pass Senate

The Senate will probably approve the Lisbon Treaty, reports Lidové noviny, which surveyed legislators from the ODS majority. Three-fifths of senators present must vote yes for the treaty to pass.

LN 2 Sat

Life term for Novák in rape/murder

The Regional Court in Hradec Králové issued a life sentence Friday for Antonín Novák, who was found guilty last year of raping and murdering a 9-year-old boy from Havlíčkův Brod. Novák, a Slovak national with past convictions for paedophilia, did not appeal the ruling. MEP Zuzana Roithová (KDU-ČSL) is calling for a European register of sex offenders, which she said could help prevent such cases.

MfD A1, A4 Sat, LN 1, 3 Sat

Abbas arrives for Prague talks

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Prague yesterday and will meet with his Czech counterpart, Václav Klaus, and other senior officials today. Abbas told journalists the Gaza Strip cannot be rebuilt without the emergence of a united Palestinian government. The cabinet decided Friday to earmark another CZK 10 million for humanitarian aid to Gaza, supplementing the CZK 5 million sent last month.

ČTK

Topolánek backs Klaus’s EP speech

PM Mirek Topolánek said he would sign off on “every sentence” of President Václav Klaus’s speech Thursday in the European Parliament. Topolánek said he did not know why the address, which was heavily critical of the EU, provoked so much outcry. Czech Communist MEP Miloslav Ransdorf characterised Klaus’s statements on the economic crisis as scandalous.

ČTK

Czech charged in Guiana with animal smuggling

Three Czechs were arrested in French Guiana last week on charges of smuggling endangered animals, ČTK reported. The suspects were released after 48 hours but face up to six months in prison and a EUR 9,000 fine if convicted.

LN 1, 9 Sat, MfD A6 Sat

Town to freeze rents, utility rates

The town of Nýrsko in the Plzeň region has decided to freeze residential rents and reduce rent for businesses by 20% for at least two years as part of its anti-crisis package. The town will also freeze the prices of heat, water and trash removal. Mayor Miloslav Rubáš said measures will cost up to CZK 14 million.

MfD A4 Sat

Court freezes Karlovy Vary assets

The city of Karlovy Vary’s assets were frozen last week under a January court order. The legal case arose from the local building authority’s refusal to provide information sought by a resident for a year and a half.

Týden.cz, MfD A2

BUSINESS

Big fall for pension funds’ profits

Czech pension funds’ aggregate profit plummeted to CZK 706 million last year from CZK 4.39 billion in 2007, the Association of Pension Funds reported. Total client numbers rose by 334,000 to 4.3 million, which association President Jiří Rusnok said confirmed “the [funds’] stability and citizens’ interest”.

LN 7, Sat MfD A8 Sat, ČTK

ČD to invest CZK 4.5bn in new trains

Czech Railways (ČD) plans to spend CZK 4.5 billion in new commuter and regional trains, including 12 City Elefant trains and 46 regional motor trains. The rail company wants to call two tenders this year to modernise its services.

LN 7 Sat, Právo 3 Sat, HN 16

Arriva arm to provide rail services in north Bohemia

Vogtlandbahn, a railway company owned by Britain’s Arriva, has won an international tender to operate rail lines between Liberec, Žitava, Varnsdorf and Rybniště. Vogtlandbahn will launch operations in December 2010, replacing Czech Railways.

MfD A9 Sat, HN 16, LN 13

J&T sale gives Sanofi control of Zentiva

J&T group subsidiary Fervent Holdings has accepted Sanofi-Aventis Europe’s offer to buy its 7.62% stake in Zentiva, the largest Czech drugs maker. Combined with Sanofi’s existing 24.9% share and Thursday’s decision by PPF and Generali PPF Holding to sell its 24.3% stake, the move gives the French firm majority control of Zentiva.

ČTK, Euro.cz

MfD: Moravia Energo facing bankruptcy

Moravia Energo, one of the country’s key electricity providers, could launch insolvency proceedings early this week, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. The company said it is not able to fully cover deposit charges for electricity supplies for 2009 and 2010. Energy market experts said dozens of clients would benefit from Moravia Energo bankruptcy.

MfD A9 Sat

US study ranks ČR 37th in economic freedom

The Czech economy is the 37th freest in the world, according to the 2009 Index of Economic Freedom compiled by the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation, a US thinktank. The annual study rates countries in categories such as trade freedom, investment freedom and property rights. The country held the same ranking in the 2008 edition.

ČTK

Lesy ČR aims to increase tender openness

State-owned forests manager Lesy ČR, which has been criticised in recent years for a lack of transparency in its tenders, announced plans to make the process more open. Lesy head Svatopluk Sýkora said that starting next month the firm will publicise how much it pays and to whom for advertising. The company will spend almost CZK 100 million on marketing this year.

HN 15, 16, 17

Producer prices drop 0.8% in Jan

Industrial producer prices decreased by 0.8% in January, only the second year-on-year decline since October 2003, the Czech Statistical Office said on Friday.

ČTK

Government rejects online betting ban

Cabinet ministers on Friday rejected a Senate-sponsored lottery bill that contains provisions to outlaw internet and telephone wagering.

ČTK

Music market shows first growth in decade

Czech music publishers’ sales rose 11% last year to CZK 555 million in 2008. The main contributor to the increase, the first in ten years, was low-cost CDs sold as supplements to newspapers.

e15.cz

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