Daily news summary Daily news summary

21-10-2019

BIS: Czech intelligence broke Russian intelligence network in 2018

Working in tandem with the National Centre for Combating Organised Crime, the Czech Security Information Service (BIS) uncovered and broke an intelligence network run by Russia’s FSB in the Czech Republic, BIS director Michal Koudelka told members of the lower house at a security conference on Monday. According to Colonel Koudelka the network was financed through Russian funds and its aim was to attack targets in the Czech Republic as well as neighbouring states through a variety of servers, which were part of a wider network used by the FSB.

Colonel Koudelka also warned parliamentarians about the threat of right-wing extremism in the country, saying that an anti-Muslim attack could lead to the radicalisation of the local Muslim community and increase the danger of Islamic terrorist attacks in the country, which the BIS sees as the most short-term security threat to the country.

Currently, there are no indications of a direct terrorist threat to the country, according to the BIS chief.

Havlíček: Country will lack electricity if new power plants not built soon

The Czech Republic will not have sufficient sources of electricity unless the issue of constructing new power plants, including nuclear blocks, is resolved soon, Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlíček told journalists at a press conference on Monday. Mr. Havlíček based his conclusions on a newly released study, made by the country’s transmission system operator ČEPS, according to which the country would become increasingly dependent on electricity imports from abroad by 2030, raising the commodity’s price, if no further construction takes place.

His statements echoed those made by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) last week, when the head of government stressed that it was vital for the Czech Republic to build new nuclear units even if they were to be in breach of European law.

PM under fire over preparations for EU presidency

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is under fire from the opposition for the way his cabinet is handling preparations for the country’s next EU presidency in 2022.

The opposition Civic Democrats claim the prime minister is underestimating the opportunities the EU presidency affords and has failed to consult his cabinet’s plans and priorities with the opposition.

They are also critical of the fact that the government slashed the budget for the country’s EU presidency from the proposed 2.6 billion to 1.2 billion crowns. The country’s last EU presidency, ten years ago, cost 3.7 billion.

In an interview for Czech Television, Prime Minister Babiš countered that the institutions involved in preparations have hidden reserves and said he would make known his plans in due time. The prime minister said the presidency’s priorities would most likely be energy and the single market.

Auditors find misconduct in party’s management of election finances

The Office for Economic Supervision of Political Parties and Political Movements has found 17 cases of misconduct while reviewing the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party’s 2017 election campaign. Examples include late transactions of unused funds from the party’s election account and not disclosing necessary details on all candidates who financially contributed to the campaign.

The office will now consider its next steps, spokeswoman Linda Hrubešová told the Czech News on Monday. It may choose to initiate administrative proceedings or issue a fine order. The latter could amount to hundreds of thousands of crowns.

City Hall to cancel memorandum of understanding with electric scooter company

Councillors at Prague City Hall have decided to cancel the memorandum of understanding with Lime, the company which has been renting electric scooters across the capital since last autumn. According to City Hall the move is only a signal to Lime that it is not happy with the company’s approach towards fulfilling its commitments and not a ban on its Prague activities.

Lime bikes, which are often simply left in the middle of the pavement after being used, have been described by many locals as an inconvenience since their introduction and City Hall referred to the company’s inability to prevent parked scooters from interfering with pedestrians as one of the ways in which it has breached the memorandum.

Prague Airport to increase capacity up to 23 million annual travellers by 2035

Prague Airport plans to boost its capacity up to 23 million annual travellers by 2035, the Chairman of the Board of Directors Václav Řehoř told members of the Chamber of Industry on Monday. This year the airport is expected to handle 17.7 million passengers and is already encountering capacity problems.

The prerequisites for increasing the quantity of passengers that the airport can handle are the centralisation of security checks, as well as the construction of a parallel runway and two new terminal sections, which are to be completed by the year 2036.

Groundwater levels on the rise

The amount of registered groundwater increased in September compared to measurements conducted last year, reaching normal levels in a quarter of the country, the Czech News Agency reported on Monday citing the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute. Meteorologists say that more water has been entering underground waterways due to an increase in rainfall and lower temperatures which has made soil more capable of absorbing water.

The Czech Republic has faced severe droughts in recent years and, although the situation is better than it was in 2018, meteorologists still measured below normal levels of groundwater around the Labe and Vltava rivers.

Kokoscka’s View from the Monastery of the Knights of the Cross with a Red Star sells for record 78.5 million crowns

An oil painting by Oscar Kokoschka entitled Prague – View from the Monastery of the Knights of the Cross with a Red Star was auctioned off for 78.5 million crowns on Sunday, the most paid for any single painting in auction, according to Alena Havlíková from the Adolf Loos Apartment and Gallery.

Kokoschka painted the oil on canvas in the late summer of 1934 and it is considered the best of his Prague views. His depiction of Charles Bridge (1934) is in the National Gallery in Prague, while his Hradčany and Petřín (1936) are part of the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.

The works of one of the most important painters of the 20th century rarely appear at auctions, so its appearance at a Prague auction was a rare opportunity for art collectors.

Weather

Temperatures are expected to hover around 16 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, with heavy clouds in the southern and western parts of the country. Northern Moravia and Silesia are likely to see open, sunny skies and temperatures closer to 20 degrees.

21-10-2019