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New Czech culture minister resigns

Departure a strike against coalition

PRAGUE — The resignation of the Czech Republic’s culture minister, documaker Helena Trestikova, has given the week-old coalition government its first public tarnishing.

“I do not want to harm anyone, but I am going to keep my word,” Trestikova told reporters, after explaining she had been pressured to hire a deputy culture minister she did not approve of for political reasons.

New Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose government won a confidence vote Jan. 19 after seven months of deadlock in parliament following tied June elections, called Trestikova’s move “irrational.”

When Trestikova was appointed two weeks ago, film bizzers — who are still awaiting passage of the Czech cinematography funding law — were hopeful because she is in touch with the plight of struggling producers.

Since the fall of Communism in 1989, state funding for Czech film has all but dried up. A tax on exhibs, distribs and terrestrial TV webs was debated for eight years before being scrapped last year.

Now, the focus is on state coffers again, but reform of the film funding law has been on hold, along with a host of other legislation, during the political stalemate.

Pavel Strnad, head of the Audiovisual Producers Assn., called the situation an embarrassment but said the funding law is still on track.

One Czech columnist faulted Trestikova for being politically naive about her job, but as Strnad pointed out, “Others would just say ‘honest.'”

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