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Zeman slams BIS chief over ‘fictitious’ hunt for Russian, Chinese spies

President Miloš Zeman says he will for a fourth time reject the government's proposal to promote Michal Koudelka, head of the national counter-intelligence agency (BIS), to the rank of general.

This spring, the Czech president objected to charges made in the BIS annual report that Russian and Chinese spies are spreading disinformation and engaging in economic espionage in this country.

In his regular weekly interview on commercial station TV Barrandov, President Zeman said the BIS director should focus “real economic crime” in the Czech Republic rather than engaging in a “fictitious hunt for Russian and Chinese spies”.

Koudelka noted earlier this week that BIS had helped dismantled a spy network funded by the Russian Embassy in Prague.

Russian Embassy condemns vandalizing of statues commemorating Red Army

The Russian Embassy has slammed the vandalizing of statues commemorating the Red Army, which liberated the country from Nazi oppression in 1945.

A statue to the Red Army in Brno was splattered with red paint on Thursday, less than a day after vandals covered another Red Army statue with paint in the town of Ostrava.

A similar attack took place against Soviet Marshall Ivan Konev’s statue in Prague 6 in August, on the anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.

The Russian Embassy said on its Facebook page that these barbaric acts were an attempt to damage Czech-Russian relations.

The vandalism was also condemned by Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček who tweeted that taking out one’s anger and frustration on historic symbols was pathetic and could only damage the country’s reputation.

David Rath corruption case going to Supreme Court

Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman said on Friday he would take a high-profile corruption case involving former Central Bohemia governor David Rath to the country’s highest court.

Rath was convicted of taking bribes to rig public contracts in 2012, and sentenced to seven years in prison last June after losing numerous appeals. His main accomplices, a hospital director and her husband, were sentenced to six years.

Apart from procedural issues, Zeman argues the judges should not have dismissed damning wiretapping and other evidence in the original trial, which resulted in reduced sentences.

Rath was accused of manipulating tenders for the reconstruction of Buštěhrad Castle in Kladno and an elite high school in Hostivice, as well as for purchasing equipment for Central Bohemia hospitals and a seniors’ home in Kladno. Ten others were indicted on related charges.

Deloitte: Prague rental rates have risen nearly 50 pct since mid-2014

Average monthly rents in Prague have increased nearly 50 percent in five years to CZK 307 per square metre, with an average annual growth rate of 7.3 percent, according to analysis by the consultancy Deloitte.

According to Deloitte, which compared advertised prices and actual transaction prices as recorded by the cadastral office since mid-2014, the greatest year-on-year increase came in 2017, when average rents rose by 12.5 percent.

The most expensive Prague districts in which to rent are those of Josefov, Malá Strana, Staré Město and Nové Město. The cheapest are Šeberov, Benice and Kolovraty.

MPs to debate proposal raising taxes on alcohol, cigarettes

The lower house of Parliament has approved the agenda of an extraordinary meeting to discuss raising taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, as well as increasing a parental support subsidy.

Monday’s initial meeting was called by MPs from ANO-Social Democrat minority government, as well as deputies from the Communist party.

The government proposals raising the parental allowance to CZK 300,000 as of January, up from CZK 220,000 now. Opposition parties support the idea but want a wider range of families to be eligible for it.

Survey: Half of Czech households set no family budget

Almost half of Czech households do not set a family budget, and one-third set no money aside at the end of the month, according to a STEM / MARK survey by for the consumer lender group Home Credit.

Six out of ten households have a loan of some kind. One-third have a mortgage, one-fifth regularly carry over credit card debt, according to the survey.

Recent studies have shown that Czechs are borrowing more but missing payments or defaulting less, due to the low unemployment rate and steady economic growth.

Celebrated Czech abstract artist Karel Malich dies aged 95

Renowned Czech artist Karel Malich, known for colour pastels and abstract wire and Plexiglas sculptures, has died at the age of 95.

Malich began painting in the late 1940s, at the time focussing on landscapes of and around his native village in Holice, before later turning to more abstract and geometric work.

A major retrospective of Malich's work was held at Prague Castle on the occasion of his 90th birthday.

‘Friends of Czech Culture’ prizes awarded

Ministry of Culture official Zuzana Malcová and ethnologist Jan Krist have been awarded the annual Artis Bohemiae Amicis Prize (“Friends of Czech Culture”).

The laureates helped get new Czech monuments on the UNESCO World Heritage List – the uniquely preserved mining landscape of Krušné hory – Erzgebirge, and the national horse stud farm in Kladruby, Central Bohemia.

At a meeting in December, the possibility of including Czech glass Christmas decorations on the prestigious UNESCO list will be considered.

Karel Gott to be buried in Prague’s Malvazinky Cemetery

Czech singer Karel Gott will be laid to rest in Prague’s Malvazinky Cemetery according to his wishes, his widow, Ivana, said in a press release issued on Friday.

Gott, who sold tens of millions of albums in a career spanning six decades, succumbed to cancer at the start of October at the age of 80.

He was given a funeral with state honours, including a mass at St. Vitus Cathedral. In her press release, his widow also thanked the public for turning out for his funeral.

Tennis: Five Czechs competing at WTA Finals in China

The WTA's elite eight – including Czech players Petra Kvitová and Karolína Plíšková – were drawn on Friday into two groups for round robin singles play at the inaugural Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen.

Top seed and French Open champion Ashleigh Barty headlines the Red Group, and is joined by Australian Open winner Naomi Osaka, 2011 champion Petra Kvitová, seeded No.6, and semi-finalist Belinda Bencic, seeded No.7.

No.2 seed Karolína Plíšková, the tour leader with four singles titles this year, tops the Purple Group, drawn with US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, the No.4 seed, Wimbledon winner Simona Halep and defending champion Elina Svitolina, seeded No.8.

The matches will be set through a raffle. Apart from Kvitová and Plíšková, three Czechs will participate in the doubles competition: Barbora Strýcová, Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková.

Weather outlook

Saturday should be sunny and warm, with average daily highs ranging from 14 to 18 degrees Celsius.