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Czech report Czech report
by Euro Reporter
2011-09-20 07:12:17
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Romani-occupied residential hotels in Varnsdorf basically ok

This past Thursday, residential hotels in Varnsdorf (Děčín region) which are occupied by Romani tenants were audited by public health inspectors, who found no serious deficiencies at the facilities. Varnsdorf town spokesperson Romana Macová informed the media of the results last week. Bureaucrats and hygienists, assisted by police, focused primarily on whether accommodation norms were being upheld at the residences. Some dubious situations were discovered at the troubled Sport residential hotel. Workers with the construction authority discovered construction additions that had been installed without a permit and also determined the additions do not comply with the use of the facility as a hotel.

The audits began around 16:00 on Thursday and lasted more than two hours. "Staff of the social welfare department and health department did not find any serious deficiencies in the care provided for the children living there. The level of their accommodations and clothing was sufficient within the realm of possibility," Macová said, adding that officials also monitored the numbers of people living at the residential hotels. Police did not discover any violations of the law. The audits found that the residential hotels on T. G. Masaryk and Lounská streets are in order and are being used correctly. The only deficiencies discovered were at the Sport, which was once a bourgeois hotel. For some unknown reason, the Sport is considered one of the more problematic of the residential hotels in Varnsdorf. Building inspectors had already audited the building on Tuesday together with its owner. "The inspectors advised him as to what the next phase of the proceeding will be as per the Building Code, which will be to remove the additions that violate the permit and to initiate proceedings for an administrative violation," the town spokesperson said.

The Sport belongs to a private owner; while Varnsdorf's other two residential hotels are owned by the town. The Czech Press Agency has reported, without documenting its claim, that the state is paying the owners of the Sport CZK 2 900 per each adult tenant and roughly half that for each minor tenant. Demonstrators in Varnsdorf have been marching on the Sport (and on the "Červený kostel" residential hotel) during the events of the past three weeks, but police have prevented them from attacking the residents. The most recent anti-Roma demonstration in the town of 16 000 took place last Saturday.


Czech Govt delegation faces protest in Israel over EdMin appointee Bátora

On Thursday 15 September, Czech PM Petr Nečas honored the memory of six million Holocaust victims during a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jersualem. However, on the way to the memorial, both he and Czech Education Minister Josef Dobeš had to walk by a small group of demonstrators protesting against the Czech Education Ministry's hiring of controversial bureaucrat Ladislav Bátora. "We don't know how it is possible for the Education Minister to hire an adviser and subordinate who praises anti-Semitic books and is active in similar organizations," protester Nataša Dudinská said. She and three colleagues held signs as they waited for the Czech delegation to exit the memorial's main exhibit. The protesters hoped the Czech Education Minister would realize the inappropriatness of Bátora's hiring at an exhibit dedicate to the murderous results of anti-Semitic ideas and words. "Nothing else has helped. The atmosphere alone that governs in certain circles in the Czech Republic is an anti-Roma, anti-Semitic, intolerant atmosphere," Dudinská said.

"We are responding to the fact that neo-Nazism is generally increasing in the Czech Republic as far as attacks are concerned, which recently have targeted Romani people. In addition, we are criticizing the fact that Ladislav Bátora is at the Czech Education Ministry," said Tamara Moyzes, an Israeli citizen who has been living in the Czech Republic for 10 years.  News server Aktuálně.cz reports that Czech Education Ministr Josef Dobeš condemned the protest against his subordinate as unfair. Speaking immediately after his visit to the museum honoring the memory of the six million murdered, he compared the attacks on Bátora, a favorite of Czech President Václav Klaus, to the persecution of the Jews. "I definitely will not respond to that demonstration - I noticed it, but I was in a completely different frame of mind," Dobeš told journalists, adding: "Something symbolic occurred to me. If I believe that what was written on those banners about someone isn't true, then there is a need to stand up for him. It's sort of a link to what I experienced in the museum, when I saw how sometimes someone got the courage to stand up for the people who were being subjected to mass murder," the minister said.

Several nonprofit organizations from the Czech Republic spoke up before the Czech delegation flew to visit Yad Vashem, asking Czech PM Nečas how it is possible that Ladislav Bátora, who is linked to anti-Semitic and extremist groups, continues to work as a high state official. They sent their declaration to the director of the Yad Vashem memorial, Avner Shalev. Signatories included the Czech branch of Amnesty International, the Czech Helsinki Committee, Tolerance and Civil Society (Tolerance an občanská společnost), the Union of Liberated Political Prisoners and their Survivors (Svaz osvobozených politických vězňů a pozůstalých -SOPVP), the Terezín Initiative, ROMEA, teachers of civics and history in Plzeň, and several individuals. Copies of statements in English were also sent to the director of the memorial from the Jewish Liberal Union (Židovské liberální unie), the Committee for the Redress of the Romani Holocaust (Výbor pro odškodnění romského holocaustu) and members of the National Action Plan for Inclusive Education team (Národně akčního plánu inkluzivního vzdělávání - NAPIV). Oldřich Stránský, SOPVP chair, also complained that he has yet to receive a response from either the PM or the Education Minister to a letter he sent them regarding this issue on 7 August 2011. The Education Minister, who holds office on behalf of the governing coalition party Public Affairs (Věci veřejné -VV), recently removed Bátora from his position as director of human resources at the ministry after protests by coalition party TOP 09, de facto promoting him to the positon of deputy director of the minister's cabinet, making him the direct superior of the director of human resources. "Bátora has attended many seminars in the past because he is interested in history," Dobeš said in Jerusalem when asked to respond to allegations that his subordinate participated in anti-Semitic seminars. "I don't perceive any such thing in his actions." Bátora participated in the lectures together with people from the hardcore anti-Semitic community in the Czech Republic, lectures given by, for example, leading neo-Nazi Kalinovský, who at the time was the spokesperson for the anti-Semitic, militant Nazi racist movement called National Resistance (Národní odpor - NO). The lecture cycle was organized by the extremist Patriotic Front (Vlastenecká fronta -VF).


Czech paper says offshore trusts incriminate ex-ČEZ boss

The sudden exit of top Czech manager Martin Roman as CEO and board chairman of state-controlled power giant ČEZ on Thursday has continued to excite speculation in the Czech media. Mladá Fronta Dnes (MfD) suggested Friday it was more than a coincidence that it happened just after it the daily confronted Roman with documents suggesting he benefitted from payments from his former employer, the engineering company Škoda Plzeň, via offshore trusts. Payments occurring when Roman had long taken up the post of ČEZ boss would have been a clear conflict of interest as the engineering giant continued to win lucrative ČEZ contracts. Another conflict of interest was possible during Roman’s brief stint as a member of the supervisory board of Czech Railways (ČD), since Škoda Plzeň’s transport arm was also competing for contracts from the state rail company, it said.

MfD said documents in its possession repeatedly showed Roman as the founder of a Cayman Islands trust, The California Trust, which in turn owned the British Virgin Islands-based company Artwick Investments Limited. Roman figured both as a “beneficiary” and manager of both offshore trusts, along with three other former Škoda Plzeň managers, from a Dutch unit of Škoda Plzeň’s owner, Appian Group, the paper said. 

Roman has denied any direct or indirect links with companies or entities from Škoda Holding, the holding created by Škoda Plzeň, after he quit as the group’s CEO to join ČEZ in 2004. “I cut all links with the firm before I took up the post with ČEZ, and from this it logically follows that no truthful documents can exist that show otherwise,” he told the paper. MfD said it drew on documents stemming from the ongoing investigation by the Swiss public prosecutor into Appian Group’s purchase of the Czech mining company Mostecká uhelná společnost (MUS) in 1998, followed five years later by the acquisition of Škoda Plzeň. Suspicions surrounding money laundering by the originally Swiss-based group and misuse of around €1 billion earmarked for restoration of land damaged by MUS mining for the Škoda Plzeň purchase have been probed by Swiss and Czech police. 

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