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President under fire for refusing to appoint Šmarda culture minister

President Miloš Zeman has come under fire for refusing to appoint the Social Democratic Party’s nominee Michal Šmarda culture minister and thereby deepening the drawn-out government crisis. Both the Social Democrats of the ruling coalition and right-wing opposition parties are calling on Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to act and ensure that the constitutional order in the country be respected.

Deputy Marian Jurečka from the Christian Democratic Party said on Thursday he would take steps to initiate an emergency session of the lower house to debate legal action against the president if the prime minister fails to deal with the situation within a week. The Czech Senate voted in favour of a constitutional complaint against the president’s actions last week but the complaint would have to win support from 120 deputies in the lower house for it to be reviewed by the Constitutional Court.

The leader of the Social Democrats, Jan Hamáček said on Wednesday that his party is standing behind its nominee and will not consider other candidates for the post. He has threatened to quit the ruling coalition over the president’s reluctance to respect the party’s wishes.

Under the Czech constitutional order the president is bound to accept the prime minister’s request for the dismissal of a given cabinet minister as well as the nominee chosen to replace him.

Hunters near Brno find hares, pheasants ‘illegally poisoned’ by Stutox II

Dozens of hares and several pheasants found dead by hunters on the outskirts of Brno were killed by Stutox II, a rat poison that farmers were recently prohibited from using on a blanket scale, unofficial lab tests show. The firm Bonagro, which allegedly applied the poison in nearby fields, has come forward to say it did so before the government issued a ban.

Earlier this month the government suspended a decision to let farmers use Stutox II to poison rodents, which have decimated grain and rapeseed crops and are threatening corn, beet, sunflower production. The Ministry of Environment had argued the poison presents a serious threat to other animals, including birds, and that its use violates the law on landscape protection.

Senate committee will request Babis audits directly from Brussels

A special commission of the Czech Senate set up to assess the European Commission audits concerning Prime Minister Andrej Babiš' suspected conflict of interest and EU subsidies for Czech agriculture, will request copies of the said documents directly from Brussels, the head of the commission Senator Zdeněk Nytra told the ctk news agency.

The commission has repeatedly requested copies of the audits from the Czech ministries of agriculture, finance and local development and been refused on the grounds that they are preliminary and thereby confidential.

The 12-member commission is not investigative and has no special powers aside from providing information.

Drought somewhat alleviated by persistent rain

The frequent rain showers over the past ten days have alleviated the drought which affected large parts of the Czech Republic.

According to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute the drought is now affecting only 40 percent of Czech territory, whereas in July it was 75 percent.

Nevertheless, low soil moisture levels persist in northwest and eastern Bohemia and groundwater levels remain subnormal in most parts of the country.

Czech animated film shortlisted for student Oscar

Daria Kashcheeva‘s animated film "Daughter” has been shortlisted for the 2019 Student Academy Awards. It will be competing against the German animation short Love Me, Fear Me and the French production The Ostrich Politic.

“Daughter” recalls a childhood moment when a little girl tries to share her experience with an injured bird with her father. A moment of misunderstanding and a lost embrace throws a long shadow.

The Oscar winners will be announced in Los Angeles on October 17.

Exhibition on Vaclav IV. and the art of his time opens at Prague Castle

Prague Castle is opening an exhibition dedicated to the son of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV., Václav IV. (1361 -1419) and the art of his time. Vaclav IV. ruled Bohemia at the turn of the 15th century; he was crowned king of the Holy Roman Empire in 1376.

At the exhibition, visitors will see manuscripts and other examples of decorative art including reliquaries, tiles, burial gowns, a drinking horn from Dresden or a unique saddle from the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

The exhibition, held to mark the 600 anniversary of Vaclav IV’s death, will run from August 16 through November 3.

Weather forecast

Friday should be partly cloudy to overcast with scattered rain showers and day temperatures between 20 and 24 degrees Celsius.