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Russian response to Nikulin extradition unsurprising, says Czech Foreign Ministry

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement saying Russia’s negative reaction to the extradition of Russian alleged hacker Yevgeny Nikulin to the United States had been expected. Via its Twitter account, the ministry said on Tuesday that Moscow’s response had not been surprising.

Nevertheless, from the Czech Republic’s perspective the move was a sovereign decision based on independent courts, including the Constitutional Court, the statement said.

Last week Mr. Nikulin was handed over to the United States, where he will face charges of stealing data from major internet companies. He is wanted in his native country on lesser charges and Russia had also requested his extradition.

Top Social Democrats to meet Zeman Wednesday as coalition talks go on

Amid continuing talks on forming a government with ANO, the leader and deputy leader of the Social Democrats are set to meet President Miloš Zeman on Wednesday, the latter’s spokesperson announced. The head of state favours a minority coalition of ANO and the Social Democrats, backed by the Communist Party during key votes in the Chamber of Deputies.

A number of issues remain unresolved between election winners ANO and the Social Democrats, who came sixth. The latter are demanding five cabinet seats but ANO chief Andrej Babiš is only offering them four.

The Social Democrats also say they want a top ministry, either finance or interior, for tolerating Mr. Babiš as prime minister, despite the fact he is facing criminal charges of abusing EU subsidies.

Ťok among four acting minsters unwilling to serve in cabinet backed by Okamura

The minister of transport in the acting Czech cabinet, Dan Ťok, says he would not serve in a government kept in place by Tomio Okamura’s Freedom and Direct Democracy party. Mr. Ťok, who is an ANO appointee, told the news site Novinky.cz that he would like to complete the work he has started at the Ministry of Transport but would not remain in government under any circumstances.

Mr. Ťok’s position is shared by three colleagues in the current government in resignation. Martin Stropnický, Robert Pelikán and Karla Šlechtová have also said they would not serve in a cabinet backed by Mr. Okamura’s anti-migrant and anti-EU party.

GDP expansion for 2017 revised upwards to 4.6 percent

The Czech economy expanded by 4.6 percent in 2017, according to revised data released by the Czech Statistics Office on Tuesday. A previous figure published in early March put gross domestic product growth at 4.5 percent.

The reason for the improvement was new information for last year from the government institutions sector.

In 2016 GDP expanded by 2.5 percent, up from the 5.4 percent recorded the previous year.

Croatia reinforces place as top destination for Czechs

Croatia last year reinforced its position as the most popular foreign destination for Czechs. According to figures issued by the Czech Statistics Office on Tuesday, 850,000 Czechs visited Croatia in 2017, a rise of 3 percent on the previous year.

The country has been the top destination for Czechs for 20 years, with the exception of 2015, when it was beaten in that regard by Slovakia.

Italy was the second most popular destination for Czechs in 2017. Some 636,000 visited the country, a rise of 15 percent on the year before.

Metallica perform popular Czech song Jožin z bažin

The US rock band Metallica performed a popular Czech song during a concert in Prague on Monday night. The group surprised the crowd with an impromptu-seeming rendition of Banjo Band’s Jožin z bažin.

The song was written by the latter’s leader Ivan Mládek and first released in the 1970s, before becoming a YouTube sensation 10 years ago.

Metallica performed songs from throughout a career spanning almost four decades at a sold-out O2 Arena.

Weather forecast

Wednesday should be mainly bright in the Czech Republic, with temperatures of up to 19 degrees Celsius expected. Daytime highs are due to then dip for a few days before climbing to around 20 degrees Celsius next weekend.