U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has asked the Trump administration to review the
national security implications of AT&T’s Inc’s planned sale of its
majority stake in Central European Media Group Enterprises (CME) to the
Czech-owned conglomerate PPF Group.
Rubio, a Republican who chairs the l Congressional-Executive Commission on China, wrote that the Czech company has a record of acting as “China’s proxies inside the Czech Republic” and added that PPF-owned telecommunications firms are working with Huawei Technologies Co to develop 5G networks.
The CME Group operates in the Czech Republic as well as Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, reaching around 97 million people and owns some of most-watched news programming in Central and Eastern Europe, Rubio said in the letter.
PPF said in a statement it appeared Rubio was relying on “false information” from a Czech politician and disputed his characterization of CME’s market.
The company said it had only inherited Huawei’s technology as part of its acquisition of the Norwegian telecom operator Telenor last year.
The CZK 449 million project known as Czechiana, which planned to create a
publicly accessible database of Czech cultural heritage online, is
“megalomaniac” and will be cancelled, Culture Minister Lubomír
Zaorálek said on Thursday.
He went on to say that the project had been “strangely managed” and that it would have to be audited.
Similar to the EU’s Europeana website, the Czechiana project aimed to create a sort of online super museum, where images, as well as audio and video files from the country’s leading cultural institutions would be uploaded. The whole project was supposed to be finished in October this year
Former Czechoslovak and Czech president Václav Havel has been posthumously
recognised as a member of the so-called “Third Resistence“ (Třetí
odboj) by the Ministry of Defence, which issued a corresponding certificate
on Wednesday. The document states that Havel fought against Communist power
all his life regardless of his own freedom.
Havel was an active campaigner for human rights in Communist Czechoslovakia since the 1960s and spent several years in prison due to his actions and beliefs.
The Third Resistance is a term used for those who resisted Communist rule especially during the early years after the party’s takeover of the state in 1948. However, it continued until 1989.
Czech police have arrested a 41-year-old man suspected of secretly cutting
and collecting strands of women’s’ hair in Prague’s trams. The man
was caught on Prague 4’s Budějovická street with scissors and hair
strands on him.
He has since admitted that he did commit the acts, some 25 in total, and has given other hair strands that he kept at home over to the police.
Police spokeswoman Hana Křížová says he gave no rational explanation for why he cut the hair. He could face up to two years in jail for disorderly conduct.
The Czech Republic will do its outmost within the EU to begin negotiation
talks with Northern Macedonia and Albania about their entry into the union
next month, Foreign Minister Tomas Petříček said on Wednesday following
a meeting with his counterpart from Northern Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov.
Mr Petříček went on to stress that both countries have fulfilled the necessary conditions and that further delay is therefore unwarranted.
Negotiations were originally set to take place already in October last year, but were delayed until March. Some countries, such as France, Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands, are reserved in the matter of Balkan succession and the Czech Foreign Ministry is trying to change that Mr Petricek said.
There are hopes that Thursday’s Visegrad Four states’ negotiations with those of the Western Balkans, which are being attended by the European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Olivér Várhelyi could help the process. Northern Macedonia’s accession talks into the EU were blocked for many years by Greece, due to a dispute about the formers name.
The long term outlook for the Czech Republic’s public finances is
worsening due to the country’s population ageing, the European Commission
warns in its latest socio-economic analysis of the country released on
Wednesday. The study says there have been insufficient steps towards
ensuring long-term budget sustainability in the Czech health and pension
On the other hand, the European Commission analysis says that the country’s labour market remains strong, with wage growth supporting consumer expenditure being the main engine of economic growth. However, an insufficient amount of labour and higher salary expenses could slow down growth.
Archaeologists have announced the discovery of three skeletons believed to
be around 1,000 years old in the foundations of Břeclav Castle in South
Moravia. The skeletons were found in close proximity to each other and in
extreme positions, which archaeologists hypothesise could mean that they
had been tied together and died a violent death, possibly related to a
Archaeologist Miroslav Dejmal told Czech Television that this is a rare discovery. Although the area had been converted to Christianity by around 1050, some pagan practices were retained for a long time, he said.
The team of archaeologists now wants to find out further details about the skeletons, including their gender, age and whether they were related.
Two high ranking civil servants, arrested as suspects, during Monday’s
police raid at the Ministry of Labour and Social affairs have been released
from custody, but charges against them remain, Czech Television reports.
Deputy Minister Jan Baláč and the head of the ministry’s cybersecurity department Karel Macek are both suspected of manipulating public tenders and have been suspended.
Monday’s police raid saw the police gather evidence at the ministry for a case concerned with a contract for new information systems at the labour ministry worth some CZK 250 million, according to news site Lidovky.cz. Both men could face up to 12 years in jail if found guilty.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis says he will demand an explanation on the circumstances that led to the raid from Labour Minister Jana Maláčová.
Czech hospitals will need to establish a four month supply of facemasks in
light of the threat from the coronavirus known as COVID-19, Prime Minister
Andrej Babiš said on Wednesday.
The Czech prime minister reiterated that the country has no confirmed cases of the virus yet and said the state was prepared to handle the side effects if quarantine was instituted in any Czech city. He went on to say that a military hospital in Tichonín can be converted into a specialised hospital to handle COVID-19 patients within 12 hours if the situation demanded it and that the government has concrete plans on how to proceed in case of an outbreak and that these will be further discussed at Monday’s State Security Council meeting.
COVID-19 cases have been detected in neighbouring Austria and Germany. Three Czechs are currently in quarantine after returning from foreign destinations where COVID-19 was detected.