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Breakfast Brief – 23 March 2009

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Table of Contents

ODS deputy seeking to bring govt down
ODS deputy Vlastimil Tlustý told Czech Television on Sunday he would try to convince two of his colleagues, Jan Schwippel and Juraj Raninec, to vote against the cabinet of PM Mirek Topolánek in Tuesday’s no-confidence vote. With the three deputies and two former members of the Greens, who have already voted against the cabinet, ČSSD would have enough votes to bring the government down.
most Czech press

Paroubek: No confidence vote wouldn’t threaten EU presidency
Opposition leader Jiří Paroubek said Friday the Topolánek government should stay in office until the end of the Czech presidency of the EU even if the lower house ousts the cabinet in Tuesday’s vote of no confidence. He said he would tolerate the government if no reforms took place and Interior Minister Ivan Langer resigned.
most Czech press

Dutch anti-Islam MP invited to ČR
People linked with the website, reportedly including right-wing MEP Vladimír Železný, have invited the Dutch far-right MP Geert Wilders to visit the Czech Republic. Wilders is the creator of a short anti-Islamic film, Fitna. The website says he will report on the “growing threat posed by a creeping infiltration of Islam to Europe”.

Paroubek easily defends ČSSD chairmanship
A Social Democrat convention on Saturday re-elected Jiří Paroubek as party leader. Paroubek had no challenger and received 74% of the vote. In his speech, Paroubek said the party would continue to follow European social policy and, if elected, would advocate completing the Temelín nuclear plant and renovating railway junctions and bridges.
most Czech press

EU summit approves financial aid to deal with crisis
An EU summit, headed by Czech PM Mirek Topolánek, on Friday agreed to add up to EUR 50 billion to a reserve fund to help EU member states not in the Eurozone cope with the economic crisis. The summit also approved EUR 600 million for six countries that were once part the Soviet Union through the Eastern partnership project.
most Saturday press

HIV positive dentist to be deported from ČR
The foreigners’ police on Wednesday arrested a dentist from Albania at Prague’s Modřany clinic for continuing to practice in spite of a ban imposed on him last October because he is HIV positive. His visa expired in November and police have launched proceedings to deport him. The Czech Association of Patients is seeking to enforce mandatory testing for healthcare workers for HIV, tuberculosis and other dangerous viruses.
Právo 1, 10 Sat, MfD A4 Sat, MfD A2

Klaus attends opposition congress
At the ČSSD congress on Saturday, President Václav Klaus urged the leading political parties to act responsibly when confronting the financial crisis. He did not elaborate on the planned no-confidence vote this week but later told the media he did not have sympathy for the government.
most Saturday press

Law expert: Černý did not commit fraud with Entropa
Two law firms hired by Deputy PM Alexandr Vondra said the artist David Černý did not commit fraud by presenting his Entropa as a work of 27 artists when in fact Černý was the sole creator. Černý later returned a royalty of CZK 2 million he received for the work.
HN 1, 4

Union of judges likely to ask Vesecká to leave
Following Thursday’s call by the Czech Association of Prosecutors for Supreme State Attorney Renata Vesecká to resign, the deputy chairman of the Czech union of judges, Tomáš Motl, said his union would likely take a similar step. The union will discuss the issue on Thursday. Deputy PM Martin Bursík told LN he would seek Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil’s resignation if the minister failed to submit a proposal to the cabinet to dismiss Vesecká, Právo reports.
Právo 1, 5 Sat, LN 3, Právo 1

Court: Prague not allowed to block insurance for Incheba
The Prague 6 district court on Friday ruled against Prague City Hall’s proposal to block the insurance money paid to Incheba for damages caused by last year’s fire at the Industrial Palace in Holešovice, which the company is leasing from the city. The proposal would have forced Incheba to agree on a sum to be used to cover the costs of renovating the building.
most Saturday press

Police: Crime in Prague on decline
Police statistics show a year-on-year decline in crime in Prague during the first two months of 2009. The police registered 434 incidents of violent crime, such as murder, burglary and blackmail, a 15% drop from the same period last year. Third party damages rose by 62% to CZK 1.54 billion.
MfD B1, B4 Sat

Motejl backs state over birthplace naming
Ombudsman Otakar Motejl affirmed that identity cards and passports must quote the current name of the resident’s birthplace, rejecting complaints by those born in now non-existent or renamed municipalities and those born before WWII in Subcarpathian Ruthenia, then part of Czechoslovakia, whose IDs now say they were born in Ukraine.

Surrealist painting sold for CZK 20m
The surrealist painting Spící (Sleeping) from the Czech painter Toyen was sold for CZK 20 million at auction Sunday in Prague. It was the second-highest price paid for a work of art at a Czech auction after František Kupka’s Élévation IV, which sold for CZK 22.1m in 2007.
most Czech press

Universities will remain free
Education Minister Ondřej Liška has reiterated that a draft law on higher education will not introduce tuition fees.

Czech-Icelandic pool bids for ČSA
A consortium of Czech-owned Unimex Group and the Czech charter airline Travel Service, owned by Icelandair Group, has joined the tender to buy a 91.5% in Czech Airlines. All bids must be submitted to the Finance Ministry by noon today.
HN 15, 18

ČEZ may build power plant in Germany
Energy giant ČEZ is considering building a power station with an output of 660 MW near its newly acquired coal mine Mibrag in Germany, said Jan Demjanovič, the head of ČEZ-owned Severočeské doly. ČEZ has been cautious about commenting on the plan as the EU has not yet approved the Mibrag acquisition.
HN 16

First two restaurants in ČR granted BIO certificate
Two Brno-based restaurants have become the first to be awarded a BIO certificate attesting that the restaurants’ products are the result of ecological farming practices. The first Rebio restaurant, operated by Rebio Sun, opened in 2004; the other one opened last summer.
HN 17

T-Mobile hikes prices of text messages sent abroad
Starting in May, all T-Mobile customers will pay CZK 5 for each text message sent abroad. Currently, T-Mobile customers with prepaid cards pay a maximum of CZK 3.50 per message, while phone-plan customers pay CZK 1. Telefónica O2 introduced a standard CZK 5 price per message several months ago.
HN 19

Swiss prosecutors to file suit in Mostecká uhelná privatisation
The Swiss federal prosecutor’s office has closed an investigation into the privatisation of Czech state-owned company Mostecká uhelná společnost, concluding that it suspects six Czechs and one Belgian citizen of illegally acquiring the company. Czech police had been investigating the sale of the country’s second-largest brown coal mining company since 1998, but with no result.
HN 4

Survey: Czech firms ready for fixed power prices
Nearly half of Czech companies are considering accepting an offer by ČEZ to fix electricity prices for next year, according to a survey of 728 companies and businessmen conducted by the Chamber of Commerce. Some 52% of firms identified energy prices as representing a substantial part of their total costs.

Crown’s surge prevents costlier holidays
Czech travel agencies have dropped plans to increase prices of trips abroad, quoting the crown’s recent recovery. The price hike was announced earlier this year after the currency sank.

Private healthcare group more than doubles sales
Steel tycoon Tomáš Chrenek’s healthcare unit, Agel, last year boosted revenue to CZK 16 billion from CZK 6.3 billion in 2007. Agel now owns 34 healthcare facilities in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and has about 7,300 employees.

Beer exports rise slightly despite faltering output
According to preliminary figures, Czech brewers last year produced 19.8 million hectolitres, down slightly from 19.9m hl; exports of Czech beer rose from 3.6m hl to 3.7m hl.

Heineken will consolidate its Czech units
Czech brewer Krušovice, owned by Heineken, will merge with its subsidiary Starobrno this summer, preserving both brand names but operating as a single company.

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