A controversial proposal to tax money paid to religious groups in compensation for property seized under Communism is a step closer to becoming law. In their first session since the Easter holiday, MPs on Tuesday overrode a veto by the Senate to tax the restitution income of 16 Czech churches and a Jewish federation.
Police investigators have proposed pressing charges against Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and several members of his family over suspicions that he and his associates illegally tapped into a 50 million crown EU subsidy ten years ago. If the prime minister stands trial and is found guilty he could face a jail sentence of between five and ten years.
The Czech Ministry of the Interior has reduced by over one-quarter its funding for non-governmental organisations focused on preventing corruption. The money has been diverted into an anti-drink driving campaign – despite a previous government pledge to allocate more funds to anti-graft groups. I discussed the news with David Ondráčka, head of the Czech branch of watchdog group Transparency International.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš on Wednesday announced the details of a planned cabinet reshuffle. Trade and Industry Minister Marta Nováková will be leaving her post at the end of the month, together with Transport Minister Dan Ťok, who is leaving office at his own request following fierce criticism from opposition deputies. I asked political analyst Jiří Pehe about the timing of the reshuffle and the reasons behind it.
Weeks after his expulsion from the Civic Democrats, anti-EU MP Václav Klaus Jr. has revealed plans to launch a new party following May’s Euro elections. His father, the well-known former prime minister and president Václav Klaus, is set to occupy an honorary role in the new grouping. I discussed the politics and prospects of “Young Klaus” – as many call him in Czech – with political scientist Petr Just.
President Miloš Zeman is to meet for talks with Prime Minister Andrej
Babiš at Lány chateau on Monday evening.
According to the president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček the talks over dinner are expected to focus on planned cuts in next year’s state budget and issues relating to Brexit.
The Czech president and prime minister meet on a fairly regular basis to discuss matters of state.
The Senate rejected Charles University vice-rector Aleš Gerloch as a
candidate for Constitutional Court judge in a secret ballot on Wednesday.
The law professor had been put forth as a candidate by President Miloš Zeman, who is now expected to suggest another candidate.
Opposition senators object to Mr Gerloch having been a member of the Communist Party. They also say he neglected to note that before 1995 he worked at universities suspected of having improperly awarded politicians and police officials degrees.
The chairman of the opposition Civic Democrats, Petr Fiala, has accused the
ANO-led cabinet of being a government of marketing and empty words.
Speaking at a party policy conference on Saturday, Mr. Fiala also
indirectly compared ANO’s leader, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, to Baron
Munchausen, a literary character known for the comical exaggeration of his
During Saturday’s congress the Civic Democrats expelled Václav Klaus Jr. from the party. The son of the former prime minister and president had refused calls to quit the party after he compared Czech MPs approving EU directives to the decisions of the Jewish council, whose members were forced to make selections for transports to concentration camps.
Three MPs have quit Tomio Okamura’s Freedom and Direct Democracy Party.
Lubomír Volný, Marian Bojko and Ivana Nevludová were all elected in the
Moravian Silesian Region. Mr. Volný said the move was in protest at the
fact that the party had allowed racists and neo-Nazis to enter its ranks.
He has rejected a call from Freedom and Direct Democracy to also resign
from his seat in the Chamber of Deputies.
Mr. Volný is a controversial figure who in the past called Václav Havel a traitor, criticised the Erasmus scheme for students and offered to “take outside” a dispute with another MP during a lower house session. Soon after he announced that he would challenge Mr. Okamura for the party chairmanships his local branch was dissolved.
A judge at the High Court in Prague and four other suspects have been
indicted over alleged bribery in attempts to influence rulings.
If found guilty judge Ivan Elischer faces up to 12 years in prison for bribery, abuse of power and extending preferential treatment. The 58-year-old magistrate has been at the court since 2013 and specialises in serious drug cases.
According to the news agency ČTK, the other defendants are of Vietnamese origin, including an acquaintance of the judge, Hung Quoc Nguyen. Mr Elischer was arrested by the police’s national organised crime unit in a raid last March.
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