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Czech Senate speaker to visit Taiwan in late August

The speaker of the Czech Senate, Miloš Vystrčil, says he will visit Taiwan at the end of August. Mr. Vystrčil said the reasons he had decided to go included Chinese pressure aimed at discouraging such a trip and other attempts at interference on the part of Beijing.

The Civic Democrat politician will head a delegation of Czech business people on the visit to Taiwan, which China regards as its sovereign territory.

Earlier this year China put pressure on Mr. Vystrčil’s predecessor as Senate speaker, Jaroslav Kubera, to abandon a plan to visit Taiwan. Mr. Kubera died of a heart attack soon afterwards.

Response to Vystrčil’s planned trip to Taiwan mixed

President Miloš Zeman says he would not recommend that Senate speaker Miloš Vystrčil go through with a plan to visit Taiwan in the summer. Mr. Zeman, who enjoys good relations with the Chinese leadership, said the prime minister, the foreign minister and the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies hadn’t recommended such a trip either.

However, opposition politicians have backed Mr. Vystrčil’s plan. The head of his Civic Democratic Party, Petr Fiala, said the Czech Republic was a free and sovereign state that would not take orders as to who could travel where. The Christian Democrats’ Marek Výborný said the decision showed that the Czech Republic would not be blackmailed.

Government approves 500 billion crown deficit

The government has approved a proposal to increase this year's state deficit to 500 billion crowns in view of the additional expenditures relating to the coronavirus crisis. It is the third increase in the budget deficit proposed since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

In April the Chamber of Deputies agreed to increase the 2020 deficit to 300 billion crowns. Prior to the pandemic the budget deficit was projected at 40 billion crowns.

The proposal is to be debated by the lower house on June 16 in a state of legislative emergency. Finance Minister Alena Schillerová said it would definitely be the last increase proposed, but added that she expects large budget deficits in the years to come as well.

So far the country’s highest state deficit was 192 billion crowns in 2009 due to the global economic recession.

Anti-government protests to take place in 145 towns and cities

Anti-government protests organized by the movement Million Moments for Democracy are due to take place in 145 Czech towns and cities on Tuesday, among them Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Karlovy vary and Plzen.

In the bigger cities the number of participants will be limited to 500 people, within the government-imposed coronavirus restrictions and participants will be expected to wear face-masks and adhere to social distancing rules.

The Million Moments for Democracy movement has criticized the manner in which the government handled the coronavirus crisis, stating inadequate state support for entrepreneurs hit by the government-imposed restrictions, lack of transparency in purchases of protective gear and the fact that municipalities have been asked to contribute from their own funds to a compensation package for self-employed.

Winner of competition to design Lety memorial announced

The winner of an architectural competition for a memorial on the site of a World War II concentration camp for Roma and Sinti people at Lety, South Bohemia, has been announced. The design by Atelier Terra Florida and Atelier Světlík takes the form of a forest.

The Museum of Romany Culture in Brno, which held the competition to design the memorial, says it aims to open it in 2023.

The site of the former concentration camp now houses a pig farm. A contract to demolish it should be awarded this year.

Record scorer Jan Koller inducted into Czech football Hall of Fame

Former player Jan Koller has been inducted into Czech football’s Hall of Fame. Koller, who is now 47, scored a record 55 goals in 91 games for the Czech national team. After Pavel Nedvěd and Karel Poborský, the giant ex-striker is the third player of his generation to make the national hall of fame.

Koller does some freelance work with one of his former clubs, Borussia Dortmund, but says he has no wish to find a full-time position in soccer.

European Canoe Slalom Championships set for Prague in September

The European Canoe Slalom Championships will take place in Prague in September. The event was due to be held in London in May but was postponed due to the coronavirus crisis.

The new venue at Prague’s Troja had been due to host the sport’s world championships between 18 and 20 September. However, the International Canoe Federation decided to put that event back to October, which the Czech organisers rejected.

Weather forecast

It should be overcast with some rain in the Czech Republic on Wednesday, with temperatures of up to 17 degrees Celsius. Daytime highs are expected to climb to up to 25 degrees Celsius at the weekend.