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Breakfast Brief – 26 August 2009

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Table of Contents

Experts dispute ODS’s role in attack on Topolánek
Political analysts interviewed by ČTK yesterday assumed different stances on whether ODS members are responsible for the attack on party chairman Mirek Topolánek last Friday. They nevertheless agreed that the attack mirrors the worsening political atmosphere in the country.
Source: ČTK

Czech Embassy in London complicates access to voting
According to Hospodářské noviny, the Czech Embassy in London will only allow Czechs to cast their votes in the October parliamentary elections if they register in person by the end of August. Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Milan Řepka said that foreign missions abroad are bound to allow citizens to vote using identification documents issued in the Czech Republic that enable people to vote outside of their address of permanent residency, including in other countries. Ministry clerks claim that the embassy will have to allow people with the document to vote.
Source: HN 4

ODS proposes online voting
Deputy Civic Democrat Chair Ivan Langer presented a proposal yesterday to implement an online voting system worth CZK 2 billion for the parliamentary elections in 2013 in order to more actively engage citizens, speed up polling, simplify election administration and save money.
Source: ČTK

Threats to Interior Minister probed
Police began investigating threats to Martin Pecina that appeared on the website of the ultraright party Autonomous Nationalists. The message “We know about you, Martin Pecina!” follows a similarly worded threat to the two witnesses who testified against the four alleged perpetrators of the arson attack in Vítkov that left a young girl with severe injuries.
Source: ČTK

Interior Ministry fails to abolish the National Party
Due to a lack of evidence, the ministry won’t be able to abolish the ultraright National Party, Martina Pecina said yesterday, adding that racist TV spots aren’t enough to file a complaint. The proposal to ban the Workers’ Party, however, will be presented to the government on 9 September.
Source: Právo 3, Aktuálně.cz

Fischer talks Roma with Hungarian prime minister
Prime Minister Jan Fischer and his Hungarian counterpart, Gordon Bajnai, agreed during a meeting in Budapest yesterday that the integration of Roma requires a joint effort by central European countries. Hungary proposed for the Visegrad Four to work out a joint strategy for the integration of Roma, Hungary’s MTI press agency reported.
Source: ČTK

Two proposals to abolish frequent driving excuse
Former Transport Minister Aleš Řebíček proposes to abolish the excuse often used in car violations that someone else was driving, and ODS MP David Šeich wants the responsibility to remain with the owner of the car. Hospodářské noviny reports that drivers use the excuse in 43% of cases of moving or parking violations in Prague, and in Plzeň saying that someone else had the wheel is up to 50%. The current law allows for the driver not to disclose the culprit if he or she is a close person such as a relative and to take advantage of low-quality speeding photos in which the driver is unidentifiable.
Source: HN 1, 2-3

Scientists again protest against budget cuts
Six hundred scientists, according to police estimates, demonstrated at náměstí Jana Palacha yesterday against the cuts in subsidies for the Academy of Sciences, which are due to be halved over a period of three years.
Source: HN 4, Právo 2, ČTK

Amnesty International calls on Canada to cease visa regime
The human rights organisation appealed in a letter to the Canadian Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney to lift the tourist visa requirement for Czechs and Mexicans, pointing to the need for Canada to acknowledge asylum seekers.
Source: ČTK

Doctors run out of tetanus vaccine
With no vaccines left and the remaining few doses expiring at the end of August, doctors have stopped inoculating against tetanus, Hospodářské noviny reported yesterday. Monthly, 80,000 people require the vaccine, and they now must wait until a newly contracted French supplier delivers. The Health Ministry had launched a tender for a new vaccine provider in April, which proved too late.
Source: ČTK

Five Czechs to travel Africa in Trabants
Much as their predecessors did in 1931, five explorers will travel from Prague to Cape Town in Trabants beginning on 9 September, when they will trek 11 countries in the petite vehicle once popular for its low price.
Source: ČTK

Chomutov debt collectors began work
Three “tough men” hired by the town of Chomutov began following debtors in the streets yesterday and visiting them at their homes to confiscate property. The first delinquent payer visited was Evžen Bílý, who owes the town CZK 840 for garbage collection. The hired men confiscated his TV, computer and stereo.
Source: most Czech press

Commercial real estate purchases fall 97% year on year
Investment in real estate in the Czech Republic fell dramatically in Q2, with only one investment worth EUR 7 million, compared to EUR 60.5 million in the first quarter of the year, a drop of 88%. The year-on-year drop is 97%, from EUR 266 million. Investors are only interested in projects of top quality, which there are few of currently, as well as more focused on western Europe, where prices have dropped significantly, Karel Konečný of the real estate advisory DTZ said.
Source: HN 13, 22

ERÚ investigates alleged buyout of Czech gas capacity
The Energy Regulatory Office (ERÚ) has launched an investigation into the information that someone allegedly bought out the entire available capacity for the span of January to October 2010 of the German gas pipeline that leads to the Czech Republic. ERÚ head Josef Fiřt said that the office will demand an official explanation of the situation. The pipeline brings gas from Norway and Russia.
Source: MfD B1, B3

ČSA employees to block recovery plan, demand new management
Labour unions representing over two-thirds of Czech Airlines employees, together with the Czech Airlines Pilots Association, oppose the company recovery plan proposed by the management, calling it just another experiment and demanding that new leadership be appointed to restore mutual trust again. ČSA’s flight occupancy hit below 60% in H1 of this year, the Association of European Airlines reported, one of the worst results on the market.
Source: HN 16

ČSA’s value drops to negative CZK 708m
For the first time in the airline’s history, in June Czech Airlines saw its equity drop to below zero, Mladá Fronta Dnes reported yesterday. Negative equity will significantly influence prices of privatisation bids due to end in September.
Source: ČTK

Polish minister suspects Penta connection with Russia
Polish National Defence Minister Aleksander Szczygło suspects that the investment group Penta has ties to the Russian secret service and that its assets have unclear origins. Szczygło also pointed out the function of former Czechoslovak secret service chief Alojz Lorec in Penta, calling it “peculiar”. In response, Penta published a one-page ad in Polish papers denying any connection with Russian money and organisations, demanding an apology. The group owns Aero Vodochody and the Dr. Max pharmacy chain in the Czech Republic.
Source: LN 1, 2

Confidence in economy decreases by four-fifths of a percentage point in August
Although consumer confidence went up seven-tenths of a percentage point in August compared to July, the Czech Statistical Union’s statistics show a 22.8% year-on-year decline in the overall confidence in the domestic economy as economic confidence lost four-fifths of a point.
Source: ČTK

Travel Service transported 18% more passenger year on year in H1
The leader on the Czech charter-flight market transported 1.54 million passengers in the first seven months of 2009, experiencing a growth of operating profit to CZK 426 million from January to July, a year-on-year increase of CZK 205 million. Travel Service’s deputy CEO, Jiří Juran, attributed the profits to the company’s strategy of building networks outside of Europe as well.
Source: ČTK, Právo 15

Škoda Superb Combi to be available before year’s end
Škoda Auto published photographs yesterday of the new combi version of its Superb model, to be introduced to the public at the auto fair in Frankfurt in September and to be available on the market before the end of this year.
Source: HN 14, LN 1, 14, 18

Breweries cut output by 6.8% year on year in H1
The Czech Beer and Malt Association reported yesterday a drop in output to 9.2 million hectolitres in H1 due to decreased sales. Colder weather and a smaller number of tourists caused domestic sales to decrease by 5.4% and exports by 12.6% year on year.
Source: ČTK, Právo 15

Bottled water sales falling
The sale of packaged water keep on falling, from 110 litres per person in 2006 to less than 103 litres per person in 2008, and retailers claim that the drop in the first half of this year was even sharper. Zdeněk Huml, of the association that represents producers of nonalcoholic drinks, says the reason for low sales can be found in the economic crisis and the fact that people drink cheap tap water instead.
Source: MfD A1, B1, B3

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