Three ministers from the Social Democratic Party say they will not now take part in a visit by President Miloš Zeman to China. The minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec, Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek and the minister of health, Miloslav Ludvík, announced on Tuesday that they were pulling out of the week-long trip. Mr. Chovanec and Mr. Zaorálek said they would stay in Prague in view of the current government situation. Responding to Mr. Chovanec’s announcement, the president’s spokesman said that it was very sad if he were more concerned about political intrigues than the interests of the Czech Republic. President Zeman is set to leave for China on Thursday.
President Miloš Zeman has reiterated that he will only dismiss ANO’s Andrej Babiš as finance minister if the coalition agreement is annulled. Speaking in Liberec on Wednesday, Mr. Zeman said that when the Social Democrat Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka signed the coalition deal he had given up some of his powers. Mr. Sobotka demanded last week that the president dismiss Mr. Babiš. The president says such a move would contravene the coalition agreement. He also argues that the PM cannot set a term by which he must dismiss a minister, but some constitutional experts say the he must remove a minister without delay in such circumstances. PM Sobotka has accused Mr. Zeman and Mr. Babiš of working in tandem.
The police have begun investigating how their own sensitive information may have reached the hands of ANO chief Andrej Babiš, the news site Neovlivni.cz reported on Tuesday. The news comes after a recording leaked on Monday appeared to show a now former Mladá fronta Dnes journalist, Marek Přibil, offering Mr. Babiš information from files and wiretaps relating to an ongoing case from the police’s organised crime squad. For his part, Mr. Babiš says Mr. Přibil had been deployed as an agent to infiltrate his MAFRA media organisation. The ANO leader has denied ordering reports damaging to his opponents in MfD (whose owner MAFRA is now in a trust), and questioned why leaks were coming out now, during a government crisis.
Prague’s Supreme Court has lengthened the sentence of Jan Silovský, who was found guilty of attempting to join Islamic State. In an appeal hearing called by the state prosecutor’s office, judges on Tuesday gave the 22-year-old a six-year term. Earlier this year a court in Plzeň had sentenced Silovský to three years and three months in prison, making him the first Czech convicted of terrorism charges. He could have received a term of up to 12 years to life but psychiatrists said he suffered from schizophrenia, which reduced his ability to control his behavior. Judges also ruled that he should undergo psychiatric treatment.
The Czech singer Martina Bárta is set to take part in the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on Tuesday night. The 29-year-old will be performing the song My Turn with four backing singers from the Czech vocal group Skety. If Bárta is successful, she will go through to the final on Saturday night. No Czech singer has ever won the Eurovision.
The Czech Republic beat Finland 4:3 after penalties at the Ice Hockey World Championships in Paris on Monday evening. Josef Jandač’s men had been losing 3:0 but notched up three goals in the third period through Roman Horák, Radko Gudas and Jan Kovář, with the second and third goals coming in just 23 seconds. That tied the game in regular time and the Czechs went on to achieve their second win in three outings in the competition.
There should be bright spells in the Czech Republic on Wednesday, with temperatures of up to 13 degrees Celsius. Daytime highs are due to reach around 20 degrees Celsius by the weekend.