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PM: Novichok nerve agent was never produced or developed in the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic never produced, developed or stored a nerve agent of the Novichok family, though its chemical experts briefly tested a substance labelled Novichok A230, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš announced after meeting with the heads of the country’s intelligence services on Monday.

The prime minister said the meeting had cleared up the seeming discrepancy in intelligence reports issued by the BIS agency and the country’s military intelligence.

President Zeman caused a stir last week when he cited from the military intelligence report, telling a commercial TV station that the country had produced and tested a minute amount of the nerve agent Novichok.

The prime minister said the misunderstanding had been triggered by a different understanding of the terminology used.

Meanwhile, President Zeman has come under fire for citing from a classified intelligence report in a television interview.

Officials charged over OKD privatization acquitted

A Prague court has acquitted three people charged in connection with the privatization of the coal mining company OKD which was sold under what is perceived as highly disadvantageous conditions to the group Karbon Invest in 2004.

Valuation expert Rudolf Doucha, who produced a price assessment of the assets and Pavel Kuta nd Jan Škurek from the National Property Fund who were in charge of the firm’s privatization were acquitted on the grounds that their actions did not constitute a criminal offense.

According to the state attorney Doucha’s price assessment of the company’s assets was grossly distorted since it failed to include the assets of daughter companies and other properties, such as the 40,000 company flats owned by OKD.

Party leaders to meet for coalition fine-tuning

The leaders of ANO and the Social Democrats are to meet on Monday to fine-tune the emerging agreement on a coalition government. Communist Party leader Vojtěch Filip, whose party has pledged to support the minority cabinet under certain conditions, will also be present at the talks.

ANO and the Social Democrats are to discuss the final wording of the coalition agreement and certain guarantees which the Social Democrats want included in the text. The most controversial of these is an agreement in writing that Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who is charged with EU subsidy fraud, would step down if he were found guilty, even if the verdict was not legally binding.

Government to consider establishing National Agency for Sport

Education Minister Robert Plaga is to present the government with a proposal for the establishment of a National Agency for Sport, the ctk news agency reported.

The country’s over 7,500 sports associations have been clamoring for an agency that would register their needs and improve their financing.

Most of these clubs lack the necessary finances to recruit and coach children. Sports stadiums and local gyms, the average age of which is close to half a century, are also in dire need of maintenance.

Industrial production down in March

Czech industrial production dropped by 1.1 percent year-on-year in March, after a ten month climb, according to data published by the Czech Statistics Office on Monday. Economists had expected a 0.6 percent drop for the month.

Construction output dropped 0.3 percent yearly in March, in contrast to a 9.4 percent surge in February. The decrease is ascribed to a drop in car production and the fact that March had two fewer work days than last year.

Czechs beaten by Sweden at ice hockey championship

The Czech hockey team suffered a 3:2 defeat at the hand of Sweden at the World Ice Hockey Championship in Denmark on Sunday. Sweden started with a 2:0 lead and despite goals from Filip Hronek a Tomáš Hyka the Czechs were unable to turn the game around. They will next face Switzerland in Group A.

Weather forecast

Tuesday should be clear to partly cloudy with a belt of rain moving in from the east in the afternoon hours; day temperatures between 21 and 25 degrees Celsius.