13-09-2003

A Czech town declares war on bureaucrats, on average every tenth child born in the Czech Republic has a different biological father than presumed, and a man gets one million crowns in compensation for unwittingly fathering twins- find out more in this week's Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Town of Jidrichovice, Mayor Petr Pavek, photo CTKTown of Jidrichovice, Mayor Petr Pavek, photo CTK Have you ever wanted to go to war against excessive red tape? This is a country with a strong tradition in bureaucracy -but even here you have pockets of resistance. The town of Jindrichovice pod Smrkem recently wowed motorists by putting up roadway signs that read "Attention Government Officials-Entry Prohibited!" Under the words is a picture of a bureaucrat rubber stamping a document with a sheaf of papers under his arm -and there's the typical circle and red slash over him. The signs - which motorists now stop to photograph - were erected on all roads leading into the town after the Jindrichovice council passed a new regulation banning state officials from entering the town on government business. Mayor Petr Pavek said town hall employees were sick and tired of filling in endless questionnaires and shuffling papers for state auditors and other bureaucrats. "Eighty percent of our time is spent on these nonsensical tasks -when we could be working to improve people's life here," Pavek said. He said the last questionnaire sent from Prague had taken his employees six weeks to fill in. The town hall has now put its foot down. Any auditor, book-keeper or government official who enters Jindrichovice pod Smrkem faces a 10,000 crown fine -some 350 dollars. In addition, the mayor has said he will bill state agencies 1,000 crowns per hour for time he has to spend with their bureaucrats. This does not allegedly cover teachers, postal workers and essential civil servants. The media loves the story - and news of the rebellion has spread like wildfire. A good joke ? The government has not dignified it with a response - but it has certainly put a smile on many people's faces.

 

What's in a name? A lot - if it happens to be Stritez. The inhabitants of this south Bohemian village are rebelling against it. Their village was given the name Stritez much against their will in 1994-on the decision of higher authorities - "bureaucrats", the locals will tell you pronouncing the word as if it alone were an insult. They never call their village by its new name -always Kaplice-nadrazi which was what it was called in the past. "That is the name that is on all my documents - I don't see why they had to give us a name that we don't like," a seventy three year woman grumbled. The regional authorities who are responsible for the chance say that the village lost the right to bear the name Kaplice when it voted in local elections to become independent of the nearby town Kaplice. The row rages on -and half the post to the village is addressed to Stritez, the other half to Kaplice-nadrazi. Time will show who has the stronger willpower.....

 

Thousands of Czech men unwittingly bring up children who are not their own. In an article titled "The cuckoo's nest" Tyden magazine says that, on average, every tenth child born in the Czech Republic has a different biological father than presumed. In the past fathers had to resort to amateur detective work and were left wondering whether their offspring did not look suspiciously like the next door neighbour, but today things are different, Tyden says. DNA tests, which originally served the courts and the police now offer their services to the general public as well. You need twenty thousand crowns, a sample of your own and your child's saliva or hair and in ten days time the postman will bring round a discreet looking envelope with the all important news. The number of men who decide to put their paternity to the test grows every year. Basically the Czech Republic is only following world trends in this respect. In neighbouring Germany the number of DNA tests for this purpose has increased tenfold since 1998, in the US 750 thousand Americans a year undergo the procedure. Are we more promiscuous than our forefathers - asks Tyden presenting readers with an international survey of extra marital relationships in which the Czech Republic has placed tenth on the ladder preceded among others by France Greece, the USA, Russia and Australia. The weekly believes that today people are just more open about extra-marital relationships.

 

Can a man who doesn't want children with his current girlfriend be tricked into having two? A case which has made headlines in the Czech Republic proves that anything's possible. A Prague city court ruled this week that the Gest clinic has to pay Tomas Kaspar one million Czech crowns for unlawfully using his sperm to fertilize his former girlfriend Jitka Bouchalova. The clinic made the mistake of not properly checking the documents for approval which Miss Bouchalova presented them. Miss Bouchalova, who has given birth to twins, allegedly acquired her boyfriend's sperm by telling him that she needed it in order to decide on the appropriate form of birth control. The woman testified that she and Kaspar had a serious seven year long relationship while her boyfriend maintained that they occasionally slept together. She was fined 50,000 crowns for her little trick and the unwitting and unwilling father has now acknowledged his children and is paying alimony. Well at least now he can well afford to. This is the first case of its type in the Czech Republic, but it is quite possible that many others never made it to court.

 

A beer brewery launched a special service in the Jeseniky Mountains this summer. It is called the Emergency Beer Service and provides emergency beer to parched mountain goers. A number of the firm's employees trek frequented mountain tracks and give first aid in cold beer to mountaineers who are dying for a drink.

 

Czechs love mushroom picking and even have a mushroom picking champion. The championship itself takes place every autumn when the country's forests are usually filled with wild mushrooms. Last years' record was 5,5 kilograms of edible mushrooms picked in the space of four hours. However due to the exceptionally dry summer mushrooms are scarce this year and the organizers say that this years champion will need stamina more than anything else -picking even one kilogram of mushrooms means covering many kilometres.

School kids from the town Brandys nad Orlici marked the beginning of the school year with a very special project - they set the foundations for a future maze. It is to be a hornbeam maze - the hornbeam being something closely resembling the birch tree. The project involved planting 2,500 small hornbeam trees in a pattern forming a seemingly endless maze of corridors. The organizers boast that it will be a true British type maze -the only one of its kind in the Czech Republic - and it should be complete within five years by which time the trees will be tall enough to make it confusing for visitors. From a birds'eye view the maze should resemble the globe.

13-09-2003