A report by the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control,
made following a fact finding visit by committee members to the Czech
Republic, confirms that Prime Minister Andrej Babis has a conflict of
interest due to his continued influence on Agrofert, the multi-billion
crown empire he founded and later placed into trust funds.
The ctk news agency, which gained a copy of the report, says the committee concludes that the situation must be dealt with and the Czech Republic must return the EU funds lost as a result of this conflict of interest as soon as possible. The recommendations of the committee are not binding, but will be taken into consideration when the European Parliament debates the issue.
Russia has announced it is filing criminal charges in connection with the
recent removal of a statue to Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev by the Prague 6
The statue of the controversial marshal who liberated Prague in 1945, but also had an active role in crushing the Hungarian Uprising and building the Berlin Wall, has been at the centre of a diplomatic row between the two countries for some time.
Moscow sees the staue's removal as a diplomatic insult and a dangerous attempt to rewrite history.
The statue has aroused controversy in Prague where it was repeatedly vandalized with red paint on significant anniversaries.The Prague 6 authorities voted to have it dismantled in order to prevent further controversy.
Russian president Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a law that made damaging such memorials a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison. However it is not clear how Russia intends to implement this law outside its territory.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček has summoned the Russian ambassador for consultations.
More shops will gradually re-open after the Easter holidays, with the
process phased-out over several weeks, Deputy Prime Minister Karel
Havlíček said at a press briefing on Thursday.
He said the ministries of trade and health would work out the details of the plan over the Easter break. State institutions, most of which were open just a few hours a day on two days of the week, should be fully functional by April 20th, he said.
Farmers markets will be able to re-open in the coming days, under strict hygiene conditions. Czech Railways will start selling tickets on board trains again from next Tuesday.
The number of people with confirmed coronavirus infection reached 5589 on
Friday morning, up by 257 in the last 24 hours.
The number of people who have died is now at 113. 440 people have been hospitalized, 96 of them are in a serious condition.
Czech labs tested over 8,000 people for COVID 19 on Thursday with the overall number of tested at close to 115, 000.
The highest number of infected is in the 45 to 54 age bracket, altogether 1007, around 18 percent of the infected are seniors and only 291 are children under 14.
From Friday, care homes and similar institutions in the Czech Republic will
begin regular testing of their employees. Tests have to take place every
two weeks and kits are to be supplied by the respective local regional
administrations, the Ministry of Health ordered on Thursday.
Social care workers and members of academia have been calling for such tests for some time already as seniors and those with chronic diseases are particularly at risk from COVID-19.
In a Thursday evening address to the nation Czech Prime Minister Andrej
Babiš urged his fellow Czech citizens not to take the coronavirus threat
lightly during Easter and respect the ongoing quarantine rules as well as
refrain from going outside too much. He also said contact with older family
members should be avoided.
Easter could be a holiday of hope of better things to come, he said, if the people hold on to their discipline. The coming four days will be crucial in the fight against COVID-19, according to the prime minister.
His words were echoed by Interior Minister Jan Hamáček who tweeted that infection rates were low because people were staying at home and that things could take a turn for the worse if the population wavers from its discipline.
As of April, labour offices in the Czech Republic have registered 27,151
people seeking to find employment, Labour Minister Jana Maláčová tweeted
on Thursday, a nearly two-fold increase compared to the first week of March
before the government severely restricted movement and the operations of
businesses in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Despite this, at 3 percent, the unemployment rate remains the same as it was in February.
The Czech government agreed to send CZK 1.07 billion in relief to the
culture sector, which has been hit hard by the events and free movement
bans put in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic,
Culture Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said on Thursday.
Independent artists are set to receive CZK 440 million, regional cultural institutions CZK 300 million and foundations, which include the National Theatre, or the National Museum will receive CZK 300 million. A further CZK 30 million will be allocated to support the digital media, which are enabling artists to continue to work despite the no-contact measures.
Mr Zaorálek also said that small bookstores could be among the shops allowed to open soon, something that many such store owners have been desperate for as they have seen their income fall drastically in recent months.
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