Czech MPs on Wednesday voted to condemn a trip by deputy chair of the lower house Vojtěch Filip to Moscow. Mr Filip, who is the head of the Czech Communist Party, arrived in the Russian capital on Wednesday; he was invited to visit the lower house of the Russian Parliament by its vice chairman Sergei Zheleznyak who is one of the Russian officials targeted by EU and US sanctions. The motion condemning Mr Filip’s visit was backed by most MPs with the exception of Communist and some Social Democrat deputies. In a reaction, Mr Filip said he was not representing the lower house on his trip.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek paid tribute to the victims of the Holocaust at the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Mr Zaorálek, who is on a three-day official visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, said the visit to the memorial was a strong and compelling experience. The minister on Wednesday also met with Prague-born Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer whom he invited to visit Prague next year. Mr Zaorálek has met with Israeli President Reuven on Tuesday, the first day of his trip, and expressed concern about Israeli plants to build new settlements in the West Bank. The Czech Foregin Minister is also scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, and visit a Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem.
Two reactors at the Dukovany nuclear power plant have been temporarily shut down due to a leaking water pipe, a spokesman for the plant said on Wednesday. The problem, which appeared in one of the facility’s three cooling water supply systems on Monday, has not put the plant’s security at risk, the spokesman said. It is not clear when the blocks will be reactivated. The two other reactors at the Dukovany plant remain in use.
The Czech Republic would like the planned EU-US trade deal, known as TTIP, to replace the current bilateral investment protection treaty between the US and the Czech Republic, the news agency ČTK reported, quoting Finance Ministry documents. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš raised the issue during Wednesday talks with the head of the EU’s Directorate General for Trade, Ignacio Garcia, the union’s chief negotiator of the trade deal. The Czech government believes the TTIP, which could be finalized by the end of the year, will increase the country’s GDP by up to 2.6 percent.
A new poll of voters' preferences suggests growing support for the coalition ANO paty. The survey, conducted by the Median agency in October, suggests that 24.5 percent of voters would back ANO, up from 22 percent recorded in a previous poll in August. The senior coalition Social Democrats would come second with 21 percent, followed by the Communists with 15 percent and the opposition TOP 09 and Civic Democrat parties with 10.5 and 8 percent, respectively. The Christian Democrats and the Dawn party would also pass the five-percent threshold to enter the lower house.
The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry is preparing a proposal for scrapping the second pillar of the pension system, introduced by the former center-right cabinet of prime minister Petr Nečas, which would cushion the impact on those affected by the move. Under the proposal, people who joined the second pillar would be allowed to transfer not only the money they invested but would get to keep the state’s contribution to their social security insurance as well. The government has yet to decide on when the second pillar will be scrapped. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka favours January 2016 but Finance Minister Andrej Babiš’ ANO party is advising caution for fear that the move could spark a wave of legal complaints both from clients and financial institutions.
The publisher Czech News Center which puts out the best-selling Czech tabloids Blesk, Aha!, and other publications, is planning to put their online content behind a paywall, the company’s CEO, Libuše Šmuclerová, told a conference in Prague. Last month, the publisher of the daily Hospodářské noviny introduced a paywall on its website, allowing visitors to only read five stories a month for free. However, Czech News Center will only be charging readers for selected parts of its content, Ms Šmuclerová said. Other Czech newspaper publishers including Mafra and Vltava-Labe Press are not planning a similar move for the time being, their managers told the conference.
The US firm Uber launched its uberPop car-sharing service in Prague on Wednesday. The service enables users to get rides from drivers who are not licenced as professional taxi drivers. However, a spokesman for the Transportation Ministry said the uberPop service is most likely in conflict which Czech law. Uber launched its flagship taxi service in Prague in August.
The local town hall in Prague 1 has been fined 150,000 crowns over the Winged Lion Memorial, a tribute to Czech and Slovak airmen who served in the British RAF during WWII. Prague City Hall, which issued the fine, said the memorial was unveiled at Prague’s Klárov park without a permit from the city’s preservationists. A spokeswoman for Prague City Hall said they had no intention to disgrace the memory of the servicemen but that the law must be observed.
A new venue for contemporary art Jatka 78 opens in the Czech capital with a show entitled A Mass for Souls on Wednesday night. The venue, whose name translates as Slaughterhouse 78, is located in a former slaughterhouse complex in the Prague district of Holešovice. It will serve as the home venue for the La Putyka circus which initiated the project, and will offer performances by independent and experimental art companies, the organizers said.