A debate is underway in the Chamber of Deputies ahead of a vote of confidence in the recently appointed centre-left government headed by Bohuslav Sobotka. His Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats have 111 votes between them in the 200-seat lower house and the vote is seen as a formality. Before the session began, Mr. Sobotka told journalists that he hoped his government would deliver stability to the Czech Republic and serve out its four-year term.
In a speech in the lower house ahead of Tuesday’s vote of confidence, the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, questioned how the government would raise the funds to meet its pledges. He said if Finance Minister Andrej Babiš managed to find the reserves in the next four months, before negotiations on the state budget, he should be nominated for a Nobel Prize for economics. The president also used the speech to criticise November’s central bank intervention to weaken the Czech crown; he said the move had slowed the country’s accession to the Eurozone.
Current and former ministers of finance Andrej Babiš and Miroslav Kalousek were involved in a war of words in Tuesday’s debate. Mr. Kalousek said the fact the finance portfolio was held by the owner of food giant Agrofert meant a conflict of interest would not arise only in exceptional cases. The TOP 09 politician also said the ANO boss would have access to secret central bank information. Mr. Babiš replied by calling Mr. Kalousek a symbol of corruption and listing questionable contracts he was linked to, including in his time at the Ministry of Defence.
The Czech Republic’s new ombudswoman Anna Šabatová was sworn in on Tuesday, just a few days after being elected by the Chamber of Deputies. She made her oath to the chairman of the lower house, Jan Hamáček, who said she could bring new energy to the post of public advocate. After the swearing in ceremony Ms. Šabatová travelled to Brno to take up office. The institution of ombudsman, which has a six-year term, was introduced in the Czech Republic in 2000.
A record CZK 946 million was spent at art auctions in the Czech Republic last year, the internet site Artplus reported on Tuesday. That figure represented a 7 percent year on year increase, said the site, which monitors the local art market. Previously the art market had grown at a rate of a third or more a year. Over 150 works went for CZK 1 million or more in 2013.
The Homo Homini prize for human rights advocacy, which is presented by the NGO People in Need during the One World documentary film festival, will go to Sapiyat Magomedova, a lawyer in Dagestan who represents victims of human rights abuse. She is set to receive the award in person at the official opening of this year’s One World at Prague Crossroads on March 3.
Ondřej Moravec has taken bronze in the men’s 15km mass start biathlon event at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. It his second medal after silver in the biathlon pursuit and, along with Jaroslav Soukup’s bronze in the sprint and Gabriela Soukalová’s silver in the women’s mass start, the country’s fourth podium finish in the sport. Prior to Sochi, the Czech Republic had never taken a medal in biathlon. The country now has a total tally of six medals.
The Czech Republic’s ice hockey team will face former federal partners Slovakia in a last-16 knock-out game at the Winter Olympics in Sochi on Tuesday evening. The countries, who both performed poorly in the group stage, have previously met twice at the Olympics, with the Czechs winning on both occasions. The winner will face the United States for a place in the semi-finals.
Striker Martin Fenin has left Slavia Prague after both parties agreed to the dissolution of his contract. The 26-year-old was part of the Czech Under 20 team that came second in their age category’s World Cup in 2007. However, he has failed to make much of an impact at Eintracht Frankfurt, Energie Cottbus or Slavia, for whom he failed to score even once in a dozen games. Fenin has made 17 appearances for the Czech senior team, finding the net three times.
The Egyptian interior ministry has asked the Czech arms producer Česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod to supply the Egyptian police with another 80,000 pistols, following a delivery of 50,000 pistols last year. The request for a new delivery was made several days ago, according to the E15 daily. The orders are worth hundreds of millions of crowns. Česka zbrojovka is one of the biggest Czech arms manufacturers. The company produced 181,000 arms in 2012 and its sales reached 2.1 billion crowns.
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