Daily news summary Daily news summary

27-09-2019

Anti-Babiš protesters plan 130 marches on St. Wenceslas Day

Protest groups plan to hold over 130 marches nationwide on Saturday over the Prague State Prosecutor’s decision not to prosecute Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) for alleged EU fraud in the so-called Stork’s Nest case.

Previous large-scale protests slamming the alleged corruption were organised by the group A Million Moments for Democracy. This Saturday, St. Wenceslas Day, smaller groups will be coordinating demonstrations in Prague, a representative said.

The Supreme Prosecutor’s Office has yet to accept or reject the decision to halt the criminal investigation into whether Mr Babiš illegally acquired 2 million euros in EU subsidies for his Stork’s Nest complex a decade ago.

Opposition bid to remove Czech president fails

After a debate that took up most of the day, the constitutional complaint against President Miloš Zeman did not pass through the Chamber of Deputies on Thursday, receiving only 58 votes and therefore missing the required mark of 120 by a wide margin. MPs from the Pirate party, the Civic Democrats, TOP09 and the Christian Democrats voted in favour of the motion, while the ANO party, the Social Democrats, the Communist Party and the Freedom and Direct Democracy party either voted against the complaint or abstained.

The complaint sought to bring the matter to the Constitutional Court which, after examining the case, could rule that the president acted in “blunt breach of the Constitution”. It narrowly passed through the Senate in July, but was not expected to pass through the lower house due to the fact that the ruling coalition together with the Communist Party and the Freedom and Direct Democracy party stated that they would not support it.

The vote was preceded by long discussions, which included heated exchanges between the representatives of the opposition parties in favour of the complaint and those supporting the president. Senator Václav Láska, who authored the complaint, said that President Miloš Zeman is intent on making the government responsible to him rather than the Chamber of Deputies and that this was the central motive that connected all of the points raised against his behaviour in the complaint.

The chairman of the ANO party's deputies' club, Jaroslav Faltýnek, accused Mr. Láska of holding hateful feelings towards the president, while Social Democrat deputy, Kateřina Valachová, said that the complaint contained too many points and would have had a greater chance if it focused purely on the president's actions regarding the appointment of ministers.

President Zeman says he did not violate the constitution.

German Embassy to mark 30th anniversary of GDR exodus via Prague

The German Embassy in Prague this Saturday will mark the 30th anniversary of the mass influx of East Germans to the Czech capital in the early autumn of the revolutionary year of 1989.

Thousands of citizens of the former GDR had flocked to Prague after Czechoslovak authorities agreed not to prevent them from emigrating via the West German Embassy. The Berlin Wall fell months later.

To mark that anniversary, the Lobkowicz Palace will be open to the public, who can take part in a debate with the witnesses of the seminal events of 1989, and view exhibitions of photographs and historical documents.

At the time, the Czech capital was suddenly filled with hundreds of Trabants, whose owners had abandoned them often with the keys still in the ignition. A display of historic East German cars on Malostranské náměstí will recall the phenomenon.

National Library showcasing rare manuscripts from age of Wenceslas IV

The Czech National Library is displaying six rare historical manuscripts from the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries to mark the 600th anniversary of the death of King Wenceslas IV.

The manuscripts, normally kept in the library vault, will be on display at Prague’s Klementinum on Friday and Saturday only.

Wenceslas IV had amassed a huge collection of books with the aim of establishing a library to rival those of royals in France. But it is thought to have either been stolen or destroyed by Hussites.

Prague Zoo gorilla pavilion contract awarded to Strabag

A contract to build a new gorilla pavilion at the Prague Zoo has been awarded to the builder Strabag in an open tender. More than 17,000 people donated to the construction, raising some 31 million crowns.

The new 210 million crown gorilla pavilion will be nearly three times larger than the current enclosure, and also be located out of danger of flooding.

Ahead of floods in 2013, over 1,000 animals, including gorillas, were moved from the lower part of the Prague Zoo. A deluge in 2002 claimed the lives of more than 100 animals, including a male gorilla named Pong.

Czech memory game Pexeso inventor Zdeněk Princ dies

Zdeněk Princ, who invented the popular Czech memory card game Pexeso in the mid-1960s, has died at the age of 85, the daily Deník N reported on Friday.

Like its German predecessor, Memory, Pexeso requires players to turn over matching pairs of squares from memory. The name came from a TV game show at the time called Pekelně se soustřed, meaning to focus very intensively.

Pexeso caught on in Czechoslovakia largely because it featured characters from children’s animated TV series, such as Večerníček, Krtek (Little Mole) and Maxipes Fík (a friendly talking dog).

Annually, hundreds of new sets are still published. Many no longer featuring identical matches but thematic ones.

Czechs on average now collect retirement benefits for 24 years, 3 months

The time spent by Czechs in retirement on average has increased by nearly four years and four months since 2000, and now stands at about 24 years and three months, according to an annual study by the Czech Social Security Administration.

The main reason is that Czechs are living longer. At the time of the Velvet Revolution, the life expectancy for a Czech man was 68, eight years lower than today at 76. In the last year of Communism, a Czech woman could expect to live to 75.5, compared to 82 now.

At the turn of the millennium, the average retirement pension was paid for nearly 20 years – 16 years and 10 months for men and 22 years and nine months for women. In 1990, the average pension was paid for 16 years, up from 11 years in 1970.

ČEZ to cooperate with NuScale in development of small modular nuclear reactors

The Czech energy giant ČEZ will develop small modular nuclear reactors in cooperation with the American company NuScale, according to ČEZ spokesman Ladislav Kříž, who told Czech Television that the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday. ČEZ and NuScale will share their technical knowledge on the matter and look into the possibilities of using such energy sources in the Czech Republic and across wider Europe.

The Czech government has a majority share in ČEZ and Prime Minister Andrej Babiš stated earlier this year that small scale nuclear power sources are the optimum solution for the country when it comes to constructing new nuclear power plants. NuScale is an industry leader when it comes to the development of these energy sources and is set to launch its first commercial reactor in the US state of Idaho in 2027.

Weather outlook

Saturday should be partly cloudy throughout the country, with light rain expected in the Liberec region. Average daily highs should range between 17 to 21 degrees Celsius.

27-09-2019