The Social Democrats of the ruling coalition oppose the finance
minister’s plans to cut the number of state employees by 10 percent next
year in view of the slowing economy.
Jan Chvojka, head of the party’s deputies club in Parliament said following a meeting with trade union leader Josef Středula, who is likewise vehemently opposed to the plan, that the Social Democrats would take up the issue with their coalition partner.
He said that while his party recognizes the need for cost-cutting measures they should not be across the board, but systematic and well-justified.
Finance Minister Alena Schillerová proposed the move in view of keeping next year’s budget deficit down to 40 billion crowns.
The Defence Ministry wants greater powers in defending the country’s
infrastructure against cyber attacks, the news site idnes reported.
Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar has prepared an amendment to the law on military intelligence which would allow military experts to trace and pre-empt cyber strikes effectively.
A similar proposal was rejected by Parliament earlier due to concerns regarding invasion of people’s privacy.
Minister Metnar argued that at a time when the functioning of the state depends on computer networks it is essential to protect hospitals, nuclear power stations, banking systems and other key institutions effectively.
The proposed amendment is to be debated in government in the coming days.
Czech MEP Michaela Šojdrová from the Christian Democratic Party says she
has secured a list of child refugees currently housed in Greek refugee
camps whom the Czech Republic could help.
Šojdrová, who some time ago suggested that the Czech Republic should take in 50 unaccompanied child refugees as a gesture of solidarity, is recently back from a trip to Greece where she went to ascertain the possibility of providing such assistance.
Her efforts have been frowned upon by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš whose government has resisted efforts to take in migrants. Mr. Babiš recently said he would prefer to help these children in their homeland by building a housing facility, school and sports centre for them in what he called “their own cultural environment”.
The Prague City Council has offered to loan the famous Slav Epic cycle of
paintings by Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha to Moravský Krumlov for a
period of five years if the local authorities can secure the funds needed
to restore the premises where the outsize paintings would be shown.
The two cities have disputed the right to house the famous paintings since 2010, when they were moved to Prague, despite the fact that the city is still looking for a permanent exhibition site for them.
The paintings were at the centre of a drawn-out ownership dispute with the painter’s grandson John Mucha, but last year the Prague Municipal Court definitively ruled that they rightly belong to Prague to whom the painter donated them in 1928.
The centre-right TOP 09 and the party of Mayors and Independents (STAN)
have agreed to join forces for the European elections in May.
TOP 09 leader and MEP Jiří Pospíšil, who has spearheaded a drive for centre-right parties to unite in opposing populist and anti-EU forces, confirmed the news on Tuesday, saying an agreement on cooperation with the Mayors and Independents would be signed next week.
He refused to say whether he would head the joint candidates list. The two parties have cooperated in the past, both in general elections and elections to the European Parliament.
Chinese company China International Group Corporation (CIGC) is reportedly
set to exit two media groups controlled by TV Barrandov owner and chief
presenter Jaromir Soukup over his recent formation of a political party
bearing his name.
Critics say TV Barrandov panders to populist and extreme right-wing parties, politicians and their voters. In January, Soukup announced the formation of his party (List Jaromíra Soukupa) with the stated aim of “defending national interests against corrupt politicians and oligarchs”.
CIGC is concerned that Mr Soukup’s political ambitions will harm its investment, the daily newspaper Deník N reports, and plan to withdraw from his companies Empresa Media and Medea.
TV Barrandov, which Mr Soukup took over in 2012, is now the fourth-largest channel by viewership in the Czech market. President Miloš Zeman is a regular guest on his programme.
The connection with the president reportedly secured Mr Soukup cash from China and Russia to finance the private cable TV station.
The Czech state likely provided illegal public support when selling its
minority stake in coal miner OKD in 2004, the opposition Pirate Party says.
MP Lukáš Černohorský, head of a parliamentary commission investigating the OKD privatisation, said the state sent the European Commission false and misleading information about the sale.
OKD was sold to Karbon Invest for 4.1 billion crowns, less than half the market value, critics say. Later in 2004, RPG Industries, controlled by now billionaire Zdeněk Bakala, became majority owner of Karbon Invest.
According to Mr Černohorský, the EC relied on background documents submitted to it by then Ministry of Finance led by Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats) – and prepared by Mr. Bakala’s lawyer, Radek Pokorný.
At the same time, the EC dismissed a complaint by BYTYOKD.CZ, an association of tenants of flats linked to OKD.
Czech courts have acquitted all suspects, i.e. experts and former National Property Fund officials, of wrongdoing. But the verdict is not final, since the state attorney has appealed it.
Charles University has filed administrative appeals against President
Miloš Zeman for not appointing two academics as professors in a case going
back several years.
Rector Tomáš Zima told reporters on Monday that the university believes the president has violated rules governing the appointment of professors and principles of academic freedom.
In the spring of 2015, President Zeman failed to appoint physicist Ivan Ošťádal and historian Jiří Fajt as professors at Charles University, referencing the candidates’ past.
In Mr Ošťádal’s case, he cited the physicist’s alleged ties to the communist –era secret police, the StB. In Mr Fajt’s case, it related to a compensation plan at the National Gallery.
President Zeman has also refused to appoint a professor candidate who teaches at the University of Economics in Prague. His spokesman said that academic Jan Eichler had worked in the propaganda unit of the Czechoslovak People’s Army.
A court overturned President Zeman’s decision regarding the three academics last year and said it was not the place of the Czech head of state to decide who would be a professor.
A politician from the group Žít Brno did not commit a crime when he
claimed in a Facebook post this November that the Czech President has
terminal cancer, the state prosecutor has ruled.
Brno councillor Svatopluk Bartík had been under police investigation for possibly slandering President Miloš Zeman when he said the head of state suffered from cancer and had only a few months to live.
The president’s doctors denied the claim, and the Office of the President filed a criminal complaint against Mr Bartík, along with a demand for a public apology and 5 million crowns in compensation.
Prague Castle cannot appeal the decision on slander but will proceed with civil proceedings, the president's spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček, said in a tweet on Monday.
The Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering body Moneyval says in a new
report that Czech efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist
financing, while improving, still fall short of CoE standards.
The Moneyval report praised Czech authorities for carrying out a transparent and realistic analysis of the money laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CFT) risks that the country faces and for actively cooperating with their foreign counterparts.
But the Council of Europe organ said Prague need to take a more proactive approach in preventing such crimes, including by launching more investigations, when warning signs first appear.
Money laundering in the Czech Republic occurs mostly due to tax crimes, fraud, corruption, phishing, and subvention frauds, according to Moneyval. The financing of terrorists here is well monitored and likely quite low, it said.