The leader of ANO Andrej Babiš says he has not yet applied for a screening certificate that would confirm he had not collaborated with the StB secret police under communism. Mr. Babiš’s party came second in general elections and he would need what is called a lustration certificate if he is to become a government minister. On Tuesday he said he as yet had no reason to apply for one. The Slovak-born billionaire is engaged in a legal battle with a Slovak newspaper which reported that he had collaborated with the StB. The agency that handles the country’s StB files says the secret police registered him as an agent in 1980, a charge Mr. Babiš strongly denies.
The Czech Television Council has received a call to investigate a petition signed by journalists who say there has been political interference in their work, Aktualne.cz reported. A letter to the council signed by the groups FITES and PEN Club and well-known figures such as Hana Marvanová and Matěj Hollan expressed disquiet over the situation at Czech TV, where 23 journalists last week said the public broadcaster's news had been influenced by a senior editor in favour of Miloš Zeman and his associates.
President Zeman has not been seen in public for several days after sustaining a knee injury in a fall. The head of a team of doctors looking after him, Health Minister Martin Holcát, told the news site Novinky.cz that his condition was improving. Mr. Holcát said Mr. Zeman was trying out crutches, though he will have to remain in a wheelchair for several weeks. The minister said the president was extremely exhausted, denying media reports that his condition was the result of alcohol or a stroke.
The PPF investment group has signed a deal to buy a majority stake in Telefonica Czech Republic. In a statement, PPF said it was spending almost CZK 64 billion to acquire 66 percent of the shares in the country’s biggest telecommunications company. The contract still has to be considered by the Czech anti-trust authority. The acquisition includes Telefonica Czech Republic’s daughter company Telefonica Slovakia. PPF is controlled by Petr Kellner, the Czech Republic’s richest man.
Viktoria Plzeň are preparing to host title holders Bayern Munich in a Champions League game on Tuesday night. Plzeň were beaten 5:0 by the Germans in their last Champions League game two weeks ago and have taken zero points in three group matches, having also lost to Manchester City and CSKA Moscow. A win for Bayern would put them through to the knockout stage.
A man has been arrested in connection with the shooting dead of a17-year-old girl and her grandfather in the village of Raškovice in south Moravia. The girl’s grandmother was seriously injured in the attack, which took place on Monday evening. There have been reports that the man being questioned in connection with the killings, who is 31, was the girl’s teacher. He is reported to have been wearing a bullet-proof vest and carrying three legally held weapons during the attack.
President Miloš Zeman has for the first time spoken about a secret meeting at his residence that preceded an attempt to remove the leader of his former party, the Social Democrats. In an interview with Právo, Mr. Zeman said the talks had been instigated by people around Michal Hašek, who spearheaded the subsequent move against party chairman Bohuslav Sobotka. Mr. Hašek in particular has been pilloried for denying the meeting took place only to later admit it had happened, and the president said it was “somewhat comical” that the participants had tried to keep the meeting under wraps. The Social Democrats came first in recent elections and the president says he will task their nominee with forming a government.
The number of registered cases of whooping cough in the Czech Republic so far this year is 880, which is the highest number seen in five decades. An epidemiologist from the State Health Institute revealed the figures on Tuesday. Six people have died of whooping cough in the Czech Republic in recent years; two were elderly and two others were infants that had not yet received shots against the illness. Inoculation is compulsory for children.
The interim prime minister, Jiří Rusnok, has ordered his ministers not to make any more dismissals of senior civil servants without his approval, Hospodářské noviny reported. Mr. Rusnok told the newspaper that stability was required. In less than four months since the caretaker cabinet was installed, ministers have replaced close to 100 deputies and managers. There has been speculation Mr. Rusnok’s team will remain in place until the New Year, when an elected government would be appointed.
Police have cracked down on grow shops around the country. A police spokeswoman told Czech Radio on Monday that the operation had been planned for months ahead and confirmed that police were confiscating fertilizers, lamps and other equipment that make it possible to grow plants indoors. The stores are associated primarily with home cannabis cultivation. The police is expected to release more information on Tuesday.
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