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Breakfast Brief – 25 May 2009

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42 arrested as extremists protest ad ban
Dělnická strana (Workers Party) has accused Czech Radio director Václav Kasík of breaking the election law by refusing to broadcast some of the far-right party’s advertisements. Party leader Tomáš Vandas and 41 other members were arrested Sunday during an illegal demonstration held on Prague’s Palackého náměstí to protest the Czech Radio decision.
most Czech press

Police to tolerate one beer with drivers
Under a new Transport Ministry directive, police are to tolerate up to a 0.24‰ blood alcohol level in drivers, the equivalent of a half-litre of beer, Czech Television reported. The reason is that external forces such as weather conditions cause slight deviations in the readings given by the machines police use to measure alcohol in the blood.
most Czech press

Czech film honoured in Cannes
Zuzana Špidlová, a student at Prague’s FAMU film academy, received the Cinéfondation Award for her short feature Bába at the International Film Festival in Cannes.
most Czech press

Prague’s Olympic bid likely to end
Tomáš Petera, head of Praha Olympijská, has called for an end to Prague’s bid for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, citing the impact of the global economic crisis and little support from the public. Prague City Hall, which has already invested about CZK 70 million in the bid, is now reviewing the project.
MfD B1, B2 Sat, HN 1, 4

Friday storms disrupt power, trains
Friday storms severed electricity supplies for hundreds of homes in northern Moravia and closed several train lines. The locomotive on a Munich-bound express caught fire after the train crashed into a fallen tree between Prague and Beroun; no one was injured, but 17 people were bused to Munich Airport to catch their flights.
most Czech press

More egg attacks against Paroubek
At Friday’s Social Democrat rally in Příbram, ČSSD supporters stopped a group of young people from throwing eggs at party leader Jiří Paroubek. In Beroun an egg hit campaign manager Karel Březina. More than 26,000 people have joined a group on Facebook called “An egg for Paroubek in every town”.
most Czech press

Prague school director faces child porn charges
A head of two elementary schools in Prague’s centre has been accused of possession and distribution of child pornography. Police reported detecting the explicit materials on the director’s computer at one of the schools.
most Czech press Sat

TOP 09 launch seen after EU voting
Miroslav Kalousek is likely to establish his new centre-right party, TOP 09, a week after the European Parliament elections in June. The former finance minister is expected to resign from KDU-ČSL at the party congress this week. He has already secured more than 3,000 signatures in support of the new party, which he would like to run in cooperation with the Independent and mayors movement.
LN 3 Sat, MfD A1, A3 Sat

Čunek denies KDU-ČSL is short of cash
Christian Democrat leader Jiří Čunek on Friday denied reports that his party faces a serious shortage of funds. The party generated a CZK 11.5 deficit in 2008, but Čunek says it knows where to look for new resources.

Poll: Klaus’s popularity slightly down
President Václav Klaus’s approval rating has dropped to 61% from 65% in April, according to a CVVM survey.

Funding gap delays major Prague transit projects
Construction of some of Prague’s biggest works projects – the Blanka tunnel, the northwestern section of the Prague ring road, the new metro D line and extension of the metro A line – will be delayed due to a funding shortfall. Mayor Pavel Bém said the city is shy CZK 1.7 billion for the projects due to the financial crisis and declining tax revenue. Opposition leaders put the figure at about CZK 3 billion. City Hall also plans to cut spending on the city’s bid for the 2020 Olympic Games.
HN 1, 4

Janota: Freeze state salaries to keep lid on deficit
Finance Minister Eduard Janota told Czech Television yesterday he will propose to the cabinet freezing state employees’ salaries next year to keep the state budget deficit under CZK 170 billion. Janota said he plans to support science and research, infrastructure, and projects co-financed by the EU.
most Czech press

HN: Crisis a boon for Czech billionaires
Czech billionaires have ramped up investment since the start of 2008, spending some CZK 60 billion on foreign and domestic properties, Hospodářské noviny reports. Petr Kellner’s PPF has been most active, putting some CZK 40 billion into acquisitions and making plans to invest a like amount through its new fund, PPF Partners. Investors who refrained from accruing debt by snapping up overpriced companies during the period of growth are in the best position to expand now, the daily writes.
HN 1-3, 17-18

Petrol-diesel price gap growing
The price gap between a petrol and diesel fuel has grown to as much as CZK 2 a litre, and the average petrol price – currently CZK 27.14/litre – is expected to rise by dozens of hellers more. Václav Loula of the Czech Association of Petroleum Industry and Trade said there has been increasing demand for petrol all over Europe, while prices of diesel have fallen because of the lower volume of lorry transport.
HN 17, 20

Regions fight freeze on road, rail works
Czech regional governors on Friday called on the government to review Transport Minister Gustáv Slamečka’s plan to put some 300 infrastructure projects on hold due to lack of funding.

ČEZ in dispute over Bosnia project
Energy provider ČEZ has filed a proposal for arbitration proceedings against its partners in a EUR 1.4 billion power project in Gacko, Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to reports the company submitted to the Prague Stock Exchange. ČEZ claims a breach of contract by state-owned Bosnian Serb power firm NERS.
E15 9

Analysts: Electricity consumption down by 3-8% in 2009
Worldwide electricity consumption is estimated to fall by about 3.5% this year, the first drop since 1945, according to International Energy Agency reports. The figure is expected to fall by 3-8% in the Czech Republic.

EU gives green light to Czech CNG projects
The regional administrations in Liberec, Pardubice and Hradec Králové have obtained approval from the EU to support construction of new compressed natural gas stations with subsidies totalling up to EUR 3 million.
MfD A8 Sat

Pilsner Urquell posts flat gross profit
Plzeňský Prazdroj grossed CZK 4.61 billion in the year ending 31 March, up 0.3% year-on-year, on a 1% revenue growth to CZK 15.84 billion. The largest Czech brewer did not publish its net profit.

Car plant TPCA advertises new vacancies
Kolín-based TPCA, which assembles small Toyota, Peugeot and Citroën cars, has resumed a recruitment campaign suspended earlier this year, as production and orders have picked up. The firm will hire 50 new people in June, writes Mladá fronta Dnes in its Central Bohemia supplement on Saturday.

EU, South Korea seek free trade regime
South Korea and EU leaders on Saturday expressed readiness to negotiate a free trade agreement. The EU-Korea summit was chaired by Czech President Václav Klaus.

Most Czech eateries feel crunch
More than 60% of restaurants, bars, cafes and food retailers are suffering lower sales as a result of the economic downturn as customers are switching to cheaper items, a Nielsen study shows.

AAA Auto sales down 50%
Used car dealer AAA Auto sold 8,924 second hand vehicles in the first quarter of 2009, half as many as in the same period last year. The economic crunch and the closure of some AAA branches in Hungary, Poland and Romania are behind the drop.

Czech online shop in administration
A court on Friday granted online retailer (formerly Vltava Stores) protection from creditors.
MfD A9 Sat

Beer fair starts in Prague
The 10-day Czech Beer Festival kicked off on Friday at Prague’s Letňany Exhibition Centre.
LN 6 Sat

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