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02-05-2017

Bohuslav Sobotka announces resignation of Czech government

The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka of the Social Democrats, says he plans to inform the president of the resignation of his government by the end of the week. Making the surprise announcement on Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Sobotka blamed the situation on ANO’s Andrej Babiš, who he said could not remain in the post of minister of finance.

The prime minister said that the Mr. Babiš had for several months failed to clear up questions surrounding financial transactions with which he has been involved. Mr. Sobotka told reporters that if he had dismissed Mr. Babiš he would have presented himself as a “martyr”.

The ANO chief and billionaire is accused by critics of purchasing crown bonds whose revenue is not taxable from his company Agrofert and other financial improprieties. Mr. Babiš said a letter he had written clarified the situation, but Mr. Sobotka said his explanations had been unacceptable and questions remained as to whether he had committed tax evasion.

The prime minister said that if the government resigned the coalition parties could hold talks on forming a new cabinet. However, that would involve resolving outstanding issues surrounding Mr. Babiš in order to bring an end to conflicts of interest. Otherwise, the parties could work toward calling new elections, he said.

For his part, Mr. Babiš told journalists he had been surprised by the PM’s announcement, describing it as the desperate act of a desperate man. He said the best solution would be for the government to serve out its term as a government in resignation.

Regular elections are planned for October and polls put Mr. Babiš’s ANO some way ahead of the PM’s Social Democrats.

New informatics, robotics and cybernetics centre opens in Prague

A new Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics was ceremonially opened at the Czech Technical University in Prague’s Dejvice district on Tuesday. The teaching and research centre cost around CZK 1.5 billion and is intended to support the digitisation of Czech industry, a stated priority of the government. President Miloš Zeman and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka attended the opening.

Report: Czech extremists quiet so far this year

The Czech security services say the country’s extremist scene has been calm so far this year and that there are no signs of an increased risk of extremist violence. The information appeared in a quarterly report published by the Ministry of the Interior on Wednesday. The far-right Workers Party of Social Justice made few public appearances in the January to April period, while another far-right group, National Democracy, were also relatively inactive. The most active group on the far left were anarchists, the report said.

Wine growers say April freeze will hit them financially

Czech wine growers say freezing weather at the end of April will cost them around half a billion crowns. A national association of vintners said on Tuesday that the price of grapes was likely to rise this year due to a projected shortage. Of the country’s wine growing areas, Velkopavlovická was hardest hit last month, sustaining a likely 20 percent fall in output. By contrast Znojmo suffered practically zero damage.

Tax freedom day to come relatively early this year

So-called tax freedom day will come in the Czech Republic on May 29 this year, according to the calculations of the Liberal Institute think tank. It will be the earliest instance of the day of the year on which Czechs have theoretically earned enough income to pay their taxes since the year 2000. The Liberal Institute attributed this to the growth of the Czech economy. Its director, Dominik Stroukal, said that more tax will be collected this year than in 2016 but said fortunately production had been faster.

Arnošt Lustig Prize bestowed on Dana Němcová

This year’s Arnošt Lustig Prize has been awarded to Dana Němcová (83), a one-time dissident. The prize is bestowed on somebody judged to have upheld and developed values such as courage and justice and was set up in honour of Arnošt Lustig, the late world-renowned writer and Holocaust survivor. Psychologist Dana Němcová was a Charter 77 signatory and spokesperson and co-founded the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Persecuted.

Weather forecast

It should be rainy with some bright spells on Wednesday. Temperatures are expected to reach up to 18 degrees Celsius. Similar if slightly cooler weather is forecast for the remainder of the week.

02-05-2017