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Police propose pressing charges of EU subsidy fraud against Czech PM

Police investigators have proposed pressing charges of EU subsidy fraud and damaging the interests of the European Union against Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš,and several family members including his wife, Czech Radio reported citing police sources.

The police investigation into the so-called Stork’s Nest affair, in which the prime minister is suspected of having illegally tapped into a 50 million crown EU subsidy ten years ago, has been concluded and the files have been handed over to the chief state attorney who will decide on whether to file charges.

If the prime minister is stripped of his immunity, tried and found guilty he could face a jail sentence of between five and ten years.

The prime minister has consistently denied the allegations and said on Wednesday that the timing of the police proposal for charges to be filed showed that the whole affair was politically motivated. He said there was no reason to hold an emergency meeting of the ruling coalition over the development.

Deputy Prime Minister and head of the Social Democrats Jan Hamáček said his party would wait for the decision of the State Attorney’s Office before reaching any conclusions.

Pirate Party wants OSCE, Council of Europe to debate Czech PM’s alleged conflict of interest

The Pirate Party is pushing to open a debate into allegations of conflict of interest on the part of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe.

The party’s senator Lukáš Wagenknecht has sent both organizations an official request asking them to consider the matter in view of its possible impact on the European elections.

The Pirate Party is not happy with the fact that the European Commission has not so far taken a stand on the issue following an investigation into the allegations by EU auditors.

The EU’s Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger said on Monday that the European Commission would prepare a conclusive report on its investigation by May 15, adding that the Czech government would have two months to respond to the report before it is made public.

Vietnamese government delegation in Prague

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Prague on Wednesday for talks on boosting bilateral relations, business and trade.

Prime Minister Babiš said that he supported the setting up of a direct air link between Prague and Hanoi as well as Vietnam’s efforts to negotiate a free-trade agreement with the European Union.

The Czech prime minister said there was potential for Czech firms on the Vietnamese market particularly in the areas of transport and heavy industry.

A Czech-Vietnamese business and investment forum currently underway in Prague has attracted over 100 Czech and 60 Vietnamese companies.

Prague orchestras to perform charity concert for Notre Dame

Prague’s leading orchestras will perform a charity concert at St. Vitus Cathedral in aid of the reconstruction of Notre Dame.

The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the Prague Symphony Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra of Czech Radio and the orchestras of the National Theatre and the Estates Theatre in Prague will perform Dvořák’s Stabat Mater under the baton of conductor Tomáš Netopil.

The concert is due to take place on April 23 and the admission fee is voluntary.

Mortgage rate fall lead to jump in new contracts

The average mortgage rate in the Czech Republic fell from 2.99 percent in February to 2.90 percent in March, according to data released on Wednesday by market analysts Fincentrum.

It was the biggest one-month decline seen in four years and led to a considerably higher number of new mortgage contracts being signed than in the previous months.

Interest rates hit a lot of 1.77 percent in the Czech Republic in December 2016. Since that time they have been on a generally upward trend.

This April may become one of driest on record in Czech Republic

Meteorologists say this month may well turn out to be the driest April in the Czech Republic on record. Precipitation in the first two weeks of the month was at a very low level and there is a similar outlook for the remainder. Indeed, the situation is likely to get worse due to the wind, sunshine and above-average temperatures forecast for the coming days.

The Czech Republic has been hit by drought in the last few years and in 2018 was hit by the most severe one in its recent history. The government has drawn up a raft of measures to deal with the problem.

Weather forecast

Thursday should be clear to partly cloudy with day temperatures between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius.