Czech President Miloš Zeman on Thursday attended the celebrations of
Victory Day at the Russian embassy in Prague. In his speech, given in
Russian, the Czech head of state likened Nazism to Islamic terror and
stressed the need to fight against the evil.
Mr Zeman also highlighted the significant role of the Red Army in the liberation of Europe. The event was also attended by former Czech President Václav Klaus, speaker of the lower house Radek Vondráček and several members of the Communist Party.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is attending an informal summit of EU
heads of state or government in Romania’s city of Sibiu on Thursday,
which aims to discuss the bloc’s agenda after Britain’s departure. The
summit will also seek to agree a so-called Sibiu Declaration, which
outlines commitments to reform various areas.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said ahead of the meeting that the Czech Republic would do its utmost in protecting the climate, but not in a way that would destroy its industry, adding that the Czech Republic wanted to keep the right to decide about its primary energy sources.
Fire-fighters have brought under control an extensive forest fire in the
Jizera Mountain in the north of the country. The fire broke out in a
difficult to reach spot on the mountain of Tanvaldský spičák on
Wednesday afternoon and spread to an area of around 12 hectares.
A spokesperson for the fire service said officers would remain in place finish extinguishing the blaze. The cause of the forest fire has not yet been established.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová is through to her fifth career quarter
final at the Madrid Open. The Defending Champion defeated Caroline Garcia
of France 6-3, 6-3 in the third round. She will face Kiki Bertens of the
Netherlands in the next round.
Kvitová already holds three titles from the Madrid Open WTA tournament, from 2011, 2014, and 2018.
The Czech prime minister’s possible conflict of interest regarding EU
subsidies to the holding Agrofert is an absolute priority for the European
Commission in view of EU budget protection, European Commissioner Gunther
Oettinger said on Wednesday.
The European Commission has conducted an extensive audit at Czech ministries regarding the subsidies for Agrofert amounting to some two billion crowns. Transparecny International warned of Mr Babiš’s possible conflict of interest last year, saying he continued to benefit from the holding despite placing it in trust funds.
In a letter to Czech MEP Tomáš Zdechovský, Mr Oettinger said the results of the audit are being carefully analysed. Czech authorities are set to receive the results of the audit in mid-May.
Book World Prague, the 25th installment of the International Book Fair and
Literary Festival, kicks off on Thursday at the Holešovice fairgrounds.
A total of 29 countries will be represented at the four-day fair and festival, which last year drew 46,000 visitors.
The focus this year is on Memory and Reminiscence while the guest of honour is a continent – Latin America. Nobel Prize-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru is among the high-profile guests set to attend.
The opening day programme includes presentation of the Anticena Skřipec, a booby prize presented by the Czech Literary Translators’ Guild for the worst translation of a work of fiction published in the previous year.
Among the major Latin American writers presenting their work are Bernardo Carvalho, Rodrigo Fresán, Álvaro Enrigue, David Unger, and Mariana Enríquez. The German Nobel Prize-winning author Herta Müller is also set to attend.
Prague is marking the fifteenth anniversary of Czech accession to the
European Union with an open-air festival on Střelecký Island on Thursday.
The free festival features concerts, competitions and games for families, along with presentations by EU institutions and member states, and a political debate.
In the musical part, Concert for Europe, Milan Svoboda will perform with the Prague big band, featuring Ondřej Brzobohatý, Matěj Ruppert, and Jiří Stivín. Also appearing are Rapper Kato with his band Prago Union and Circus Problem.
Taking part in a public debate are EU commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats) and Mayor of Prague Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates).
President Miloš Zeman has signed into law a controversial proposal to tax
money paid to religious groups in compensation for property seized under
The tax is due to take effect on January 1, 2020. But the Constitutional Court may well strike it down before the first tax payment come due the following year.
In late April, MPs overrode a veto by the Senate to tax the restitution income of 16 Czech churches and a Jewish federation which had their property seized by the former Communist regime.
Critics say the law, proposed by the Communists, is unconstitutional and unethical. The religious institutions had been awarded money in cases where the confiscated property could not be returned to its rightful owners.
President Miloš Zeman on Wednesday promoted 15 men to the rank of general,
but as expected declined to bestow the honour on Czech BIS
counter-intelligence head Michal Koudelka, despite recommendations from the
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) in October said that the Czech head of state had promised he would promote Koudelka. This marks the third time he has declined to do so.
President Zeman objects to charges made in the BIS annual report that spies from Russia and China are spreading disinformation in the Czech Republic with a view to influencing public opinion and engaging in economic espionage.
He has accused Koudelka and national cyber security bureau director Dušan Navrátil of putting the Czech Republic’s economic interests at “serious risk” by issuing “unfounded” warnings about Russian and Chinese influence.
In early March, Koudelka was presented with the CIA’s George Tenet award, which recognises international cooperation, at the US spy agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
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