The 75th edition of the Prague Spring International Music Festival will
open with a special concert on May 7 featuring the Berlin Philharmonic
conducted by Kirill Petrenko. Smetana’s My Country, which usually
launches the festival, will be heard on the traditional date of May 12,
performed this time by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra helmed by conductor
The 2020 Prague Spring festival will feature 53 concerts and close on the traditional date of June 4.
The first edition was held in 1946 under the patronage of Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš.
Wooden breakwaters aimed at protecting Prague’s Charles Bridge from ice
and flooding are now back in place following a major renovation job,
Novinky.cz reported. New breakwaters, which stand in front of seven of the
bridge’s 15 arches, were installed at a cost of CZK 30 million.
The structures replaced ones dating from 2004. The previous breakwaters were destroyed by flooding two years earlier.
The current Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, has been absent from lower
house sessions more frequently than any of his predecessors, the news site
iRozhlas.cz reported. Mr. Babiš has missed 73 percent of votes during his
time as PM. He is also frequently not present when interpellation takes
place, and has missed over half since the last elections.
Last week Mr. Babiš said in an interview that he would no longer attend Chamber of Deputies sessions as they were eating into valuable time when he could be working.
The second least present Czech PM was Miloš Zeman, with Václav Klaus and Bohuslav Sobotka tied for third place.
The Czech minimum wage, currently at 13,350 crowns, is the lowest in
Central Europe, and in terms of buying power, such employees are even worse
off, the business daily Hospodářské noviny writes.
Unions are lobbying for the minimum wage to rise to 15,000 crowns next year while employers’ associations propose a rise of just 700 crowns. About 150,000 people are in minimum wage jobs, according to the newspaper.
Czechs’ comparative purchasing power should rise from 66 percent of the average of euro zone countries now to 71 percent next year, according to the Ministry of Finance.
Czech police detained two foreign nationals at Prague’s main airport who
are suspected of smuggling 142 kilograms of the stimulant drug khat in
seven suitcases on an inbound flight from Tel Aviv.
Khat, native to the Horn of Africa and Arabian Peninsula, is banned in most of Europe. If found guilty, the alleged smugglers face up to 12 years in prison.
Police note the plant must be chewed fresh to have any effect and so was likely intended for domestic distribution.
The group A Million Moments for Democracy plans to deliver an ultimatum to
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) in a mass protest march on Saturday:
resolve his conflicts of interest and dismiss the justice minister – or
Group leader Mikuláš Minář told at a press conference on Monday protesters want Babiš to exit the holding company Agrofert, which he put in trust funds in but allegedly remains the beneficial owner of, and the numerous media outlets he owns.
If he does not do so, ‘Million Moments’ will stage another wave of weekly protests, Minář told reporters. At the group’s last demonstration in June, more than 280,000 people turned out to call for Babiš to step down. It was the biggest protest since the Velvet Revolution thirty years ago.
The Slovak-born billionaire has been dogged by accusations that a decade ago he illegally obtained 2 million euros in EU subsidies to develop his Stork Nest complex and continues to serve his own business interests, despite placing them in a trust.
The Czech Republic has the fourth-highest level of pure alcohol consumption
in the OECD, at 11.6 litres per person annually, according to official 2017
sales data in the 36 member states.
Overall alcohol consumption averaged 8.9 litres per person across OECD countries in 2017, roughly the equivalent of 100 bottles of wine annually or 400 pints of 4 percent strength beer.
Lithuania reported the highest consumption (12.3 litres), followed by Austria (11.8 litres) and France (11.7 litres). Neighbouring Germany ranked tenth (10.9 litres), Poland twelfth (10.6 litres) and Slovakia fifteenth (9.7 litres).
Alcohol dependence is most common in Latvia, Hungary, and Russian Federation (more than 9% of adults), according to the OECD data.
Former PM Petr Nečas’s wife has been acquitted along with two other
suspects in a case relating to the leak of classified BIS
counter-intelligence agency information in 2013 that helped topple the
The Prague court’s verdict is not final and the prosecution has already filed an appeal. The court found insufficient evidence to convict the defendants, and said that while some of their deeds were unethical, they were not criminal.
In 2017, Jana Nečasová, who led the PM’s office before marrying him, was been found guilty of abusing BIS information but given a suspended sentence. So too were influential lobbyist Ivo Rittig and his lawyer David Michal.
The prosecutor sought a 3-year prison sentence for Nečasová, who passed on BIS information to Rittig and Michal, and financial penalties and other conditions be imposed on the two men.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade improperly used some 1.2 million crowns
of EU funds to pay for employee social events characterised as
“educational seminars”, according to a Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ)
The EU funds came from the Operational Programme Enterprise and Innovation for Competitiveness (OP EIC).
NKÚ inspectors assessed the Ministry’s funding of social events using EU funds as a breach of budgetary discipline and reported their suspicion to Czech tax authorities.
A Ministry spokesperson said the audit report was out of date, and the programme had been suspended and personnel changes made accordingly.
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Facemask requirement eased but new restrictions for area hit by spike in Covid-19 cases
Czech nation pays tribute to Milada Horáková on 70th anniversary of her judicial murder