Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has sent an official request to President
Miloš Zeman asking him to dismiss Culture Minister Antonín Staněk and to
appoint Social Democratic Party nominee Michal Šmarda in his place.
The prime minister sent the request on Friday morning following a meeting with Mr. Šmarda at which he agreed to support his nomination despite having reservations regarding the party’s choice of successor.
President Zeman, who earlier refused to accept Minister Staněk’s resignation is bound by law to comply with the request, but he said on Thursday that the Constitution did not set any time limit by when he was bound to do so. Constitutional experts agree that he should do so without further delay.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said in reaction to the news that he had not
violated any Czech or European laws and rejected claims that Brussels had
asked for subsidies granted to Agrofert to be returned.
Babiš said he was shocked by the reports in the Czech media, stressing that the audit was a preliminary draft which the Czech Republic would respond to.
The spokesman for Agrofert, the agro-chemical business empire that is at the center of the case, said that the conglomerate, comprising more than 200 firms, had proceeded strictly according to the law in the matter of all European and national subsidies received. He said the conglomerate had not been contacted by the European Commission over the matter of returning subsidies.
Agrofert is one of the biggest recipients of both EU and national subsidies in the country.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has a conflict of interest due to
prevailing links to his former businesses despite having placed them in
trust funds, according to the results of a European Commission audit which
was sent to the Czech Finance Ministry on Friday.
According to the Czech media Brussels is demanding that, on the basis of these findings, all EU subsidies granted to the Agrofert conglomerate since 2018 be returned.
The Czech Finance Ministry has confirmed receiving the English-language draft of the audit and says it is waiting to get the Czech version before responding to it, for which it has a two months deadline.
It moreover points out that the draft includes a disclaimer stating that the report is based on preliminary findings and recommendations by the Commission’s auditors and may be amended on the grounds of additional information from national bodies.
A procession by Roma musicians, singers and dancers from all over the world
will pass through the centre of Prague on Friday as part of the annual
Khamoro festival. The parade will start at the lower part of Wenceslas
Square at midday on Friday and head to the Old Town Square.
The 21st edition of the week-long festival of Romany culture got underway last Sunday, offering various concerts, workshops and seminars. It will culminate on Saturday with a gala concert at the Prague club SaSaZu on Saturday.
The annual United Islands music festival gets underway in Prague on Friday.
The festival traditionally takes place in Prague’s district of Karlín,
offering over 100 artists from all over the world.
The 16th edition of the event has a subtitle “the British Edition” and brings the most interesting of young British music, such as the bands The Sherlocks and Husky Loops. It also offers a special programme for Entry to the event is free of charge.
The anti-smoking bill, which came into effect in the Czech Republic two
years ago, has had a positive effect on people’s health, Minister of
Health Adam Vojtěch told reporters on Thursday.
Since June 2017, when smoking in pubs, restaurants and other facilities was strictly banned, there were fewer people hospitalised with heart attacks or asthma. Experts say the effect of the ban on cancer can be assessed in about ten years’ time.
The National Public Health Institute’s data show that the number of smokers in the 15 to 19 age group dropped by 15 percent between 2017 and 2018. There has also been a drop in the number of young people aged 15 to 24 who start smoking.
Three great white pelicans departed from Prague Zoo on Thursday to join a
flock in London's St. James's Park, near Buckingham Palace. It is
the third time the zoo has sent pelicans to Great Britain.
The first birds were transported to London in 1995 and three others followed in 2013. Two males, Sun and Moon, and a female, Star, who were born in February, are due to join the current colony of three in London on Thursday.
The pelicans were first introduced to St. James's Park in 1664 as a gift to King Charles II from a Russian ambassador.
The exemption of the Czech coal power plant Chvaletice in north-east
Bohemia from EU norms would result in 196 premature deaths over a ten-year
period, suggests a report commissioned by the Czech branch of the
environmental organisation Greenpeace.
Under the new rules approved by EU member states, which will come into force in 2021, power plants in the EU will have to significantly cut the amount of pollutants. The company Sev.en Energy, which operates the Chvaletice power plant, has asked for an eight-year exemption from the norms, arguing that lowering emissions would require inadequate expenses.
A US military convoy, which is passing through the Czech Republic on its
way to a military exercise in Romania and Hungary, has significantly slowed
down traffic on the D1 motorway from Prague to Brno. According to the
traffic police, drivers can expect hour-long delays.
The convoy, made up of around 350 armoured combat vehicles and over 800 personnel, entered the Czech Republic on Tuesday at the Czech-German border in Rozvadov near Plzeň. It is expected to leave the country on Thursday afternoon.
Czechs spent a record sum on betting last year, placing bets worth 249.5
billion crowns. That’s a rise of just over 11 percent on the previous
year. Winnings paid out from bets came to over 218 billion crowns, an
increase of 18.4 percent.
According to the Czech Ministry of Finance, the number of casinos and gaming-machine bars has dropped to roughly 1,800 following the introduction of the new legislation and statutes.