Thousands of people again took to the streets of towns and cities around the Czech Republic on Tuesday evening to protest against Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his appointment of Marie Benešová as justice minister. Rallies took place in over 300 municipalities, including Ostrava, Plzeň and Hradec Králové. The biggest one, in Brno, attracted an estimated 6,000 people.
The group which has been organising the protests, Million Moments for Democracy, are calling for the removal of the newly appointed justice minister, who they fear was installed to meddle in a criminal case against the prime minister linked to the alleged abuse of EU subsidies. Another demonstration is due to take place on 23 June on Prague’s Letná plain, the venue of the largest anti-regime demonstrations of November 1989.
The Czech Republic’s population grew by 3,000 in the first quarter of 2019, the Czech Statistics Agency announced on Wednesday. The rise was the consequence of net migration, which reached 16,700 people in the measured period, the highest number in the past 10 years. In contrast, registered births were the lowest in four years, with the number of deaths surpassing births by 3,600.
The largest numbers of migrants come from Ukraine and Slovakia. Meanwhile, 10,000 Czechs left the country. The population increase was registered in all regions of the country, with the highest noted in the Region of Central Bohemia. The statistic did not change compared to last year when it comes to the average lifespan, which lay at 79,8 years for women and 73,1 for men.
The Ministry of Labour and Social affairs and the General Financial Directorate are just some of the government offices with serious cybersecurity issues, according to an examination conducted by the National Cyber and Information Security Agency, the Czech daily Deník N reported on Wednesday.
The agency identified problems not just in the offices’ online security, but also in the actual protection of workplace computers and networks. Systems such as social benefits, and the electronic register system, which was introduced in 2016 to counter the grey economy and tax fraud, are therefore critically vulnerable, sources told the newspaper.
The chief organiser of the recent countrywide wave of protests calling for the resignation of the Czech justice and prime ministers, Mikuláš Minář, told Czech Television on Tuesday that his group A Million Moments for Democracy is ready for a “long-haul race” if it comes to it. He implied that the demonstrations are likely to continue if the demands set out by the protesters are not taken into consideration after what is expected to be the largest protest yet, on Prague’s Letná Plain on June 23.
Mr. Minář was unwilling to go into the details of what his group plans to do next. However, he said that it respects the result of the elections and the right of Mr. Babiš’s party to be in charge of the government, but with a different prime minister who is not burdened by the current leader’s affairs.
Following a preliminary audit from the European Commission, which found the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to be in a conflict of interest due to the structure of the trust funds currently owning his former company, the opposition has proposed a Senate commission on the matter. It will be made up of two members from each party in the upper house and give an official verdict on the matter at the end of January.
Opposition politicians have stressed the commission’s task will not be to evaluate the audit, but to interview relevant actors and come up with its own position, both on the alleged conflict of interests of the prime minister and the Minister of Agriculture Miroslav Toman, who was mentioned in a second European Commission audit.
The Senate is set to vote on the proposal on Thursday.
The Czech sculptor Petr Váňa, who has spent years crafting the components of a new baroque style Marian Column, whose predecessor used to stand on Prague’s Old Town Square before it was torn down by an angry mob in November 1918, has transported the pillar’s pieces by boat to the capital. He was greeted by a small crowd cheering “Glory!” on the river bank. However, Mr. Váňa still lacks authorisation to erect the statue from the Prague 1 district.
The group pushing for the column’s restoration on Prague’s famous square is set to meet there on Saturday, with Mr. Váňa presenting the project.
A third edition of the open air festival Arena, founded by the Forman brothers, gets underway at Prague’ Smíchov embankment on Wednesday evening. Over the course of ten days, the festival will offer a number of theatre and circus performances, concerts, a dance hall as well as workshops for children.
Among the highlights of this year’s event will be a new performance by the world-known French ensemble Cirque Trottola called Campana or the Czech premiere Matěj Forman’s adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Happy Prince.
High temperatures are set to continue throughout the week, reaching 33 degrees Celsius on Saturday. However, a storm is expected to arrive in Bohemia on Wednesday night, with further storms forecast across Moravia on Thursday.