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Communist MPs protest plan to delay till 2021 taxing money paid to churches in restitution

A Communist proposal to tax churches on monies they received in line with a property restitution law enacted six years ago should come into effect on 1 January 2021 at the earliest.

This is the recommendation of the lower house of parliament’s Budget Committee, based on an amendment put forth by opposition MP Marek Benda (Civic Democrats), following a second reading.

The move also has the support of the ministries of finance and culture.

The Budget Committee voted against support for a proposal raised by another opposition MP, Dominik Feri (TOP 09), to reject the proposed tax outright.

Opponents of the Communist proposal argue that it is unconstitutional. However, the parties in the coalition government, ANO and the Social Democrats, have backed the proposal to tax restitution money paid in compensation for church property confiscated by the Communist regime.

The lower house could approve the draft at its next meeting due to begin on 22 January.

Charles U. petition protests neo-Nazis’ plan to use Jan Palach’s image at Italian concert

More than 1,100 people have signed an online petition launched by Charles University students protesting plans by far-right and neo-Nazi groups to use the name and likeness of Jan Palach at an upcoming concert in in Verona, Italy.

Palach, who studied at Charles University, died in January 1969 several days after having setting himself alight in Prague in protest at Czech apathy in the face of the ongoing Soviet occupation.

The online petition also calls for local Italian authorities to distance themselves from any support for the action to be held in Verona on 19 January, the 50th anniversary of the tragic death of Jan Palach.

The concert in Verona is to be held under the motto “Country and Freedom”.

The Italian newspaper La Republicca reported in December that certain ultra-right groups have long appropriated Palach’s legacy both “politically and culturally”.

Pirates send study to EU arguing PM Babiš still in conflict of interest over Agrofert

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš remains the true owner of the Agrofert conglomerate that he founded, despite having placed it in a trust, according to a legal study commissioned by the opposition Pirate Party.

The new study, which has been sent to the European Commission, confirms earlier findings by the EU executive arm and the Czech branch of watchdog Transparency International, that Mr Babiš has violated EU laws on conflicts of interest.

As a prime minister, he can influence the scope and distribution of EU subsidies that benefit Agrofert, of which he is the ultimate beneficiary, the various findings argue.

The European Parliament voted in December to suspend subsidies to Agrofert until the matter is cleared up.

Mr. Babiš is facing criminal charges in the Czech Republic of EU subsidy fraud over CZK 50 million received by a hotel and conference centre near Prague that previously belonged to Agrofert. He denies any wrongdoing.

Czechia has received 25 pct of EU subsidies within 2014-2020 period

The Czech Republic had by the end last year received about 25 percent of the total 582.9 billion crowns in European Union funds allocated to the country for the 2014-2020 programme period.

This is according to the Regional Development Ministry, which is responsible for the absorption of EU funds.

The ministry said all 10 operational programmes fulfilled the set conditions and thus the country does not have to return any money, which amounts to 145.6 billion crowns.

Czech jobless rate climbs slightly to 3.1 percent

Unemployment in the Czech Republic rose from 2.8 percent in November to 3.1 percent in December, according to official figures released on Wednesday. The increase followed a four-month period of stagnation.

However, December’s unemployment rate was still lower than the same time the previous year, when it stood at 3.8 percent.

The total number of people out of work last month was the lowest for December since 1996. The vacant jobs figure was up both month-on-month and year-on-year.

Slovak president honours lawyer who represented family of Jan Palach

The Slovak president, Andrej Kiska, has bestowed a high state honour in memoriam on Dagmar Burešová, a Czech lawyer who represented the family of Jan Palach following his death. Mr. Kiska did so during a ceremony on Tuesday evening linked to the recent anniversary of the foundation of the Slovak state.

Dagmar Burešová, who died last year at the age of 88, defended a number of dissidents during the communist period and was the first Czechoslovak minister of justice after the Velvet Revolution.

Alongside a number of significant Slovaks Mr. Kiska also honoured the well-known Czech actor Josef Abrhám.

Weather outlook

Thursday should be cloudy with occasional light snowfall anticipated mainly in the west and northeast of the country. Average daily highs should range between -2 to 2 degrees Celsius.