The Czech branch of the watchdog Transparency International has assessed
the openness of the nine presidential candidates as regards their campaign
financing. It gave the worst marks to current head of state, Miloš Zeman,
saying that he had not revealed details of sponsors or the nature of his
spending so far. Other candidates place high in the polls also had flaws in
their reporting but these were not so great, the report, placed on the
watchdog’s website said.
Candidates face a spending limit of 30 million crowns in the first round with another 10 billion to be spent in the second, if needed.
Incomplete and untrue information was put forward in applying for EU
subsidy funds with regards to the Stork’s Nest hotel and recreation
complex, according to financial daily Hospodářské noviny. According to
the paper, citing the findings of the investigation by OLAF, the European
Anti-Fraud Office, the matter could constitute fraud, in line with findings
by the Czech police, which charged 11 people including Prime Minister
Andrej Babiš, in the case.
The prime minister and his deputy party leader Jaroslav Faltýnek are currently protected by parliamentary immunity. That was already lifted once by lawmakers but regained in the recent election.
The Stork’s Nest hotel and recreation complex, linked to Mr Babiš through Agrofert which he owned at the time, received 50 million crowns in EU funds.
The chairman of the country’s Constitutional Court, Pavel Rychetsý has
criticised the atmosphere around the head of state, saying that regardless
who held the post of president, the office drew groups of aides incapable
of conducting a dialogue with the president or confronting him with
In his view, the post had had a negative impact on all recent presidents, suggesting that all had wanted “kowtowers” (or “yes men”). He made the statement in an interview with Czech Radio.
In the interview, the Constitutional Court chairman criticised him indirectly criticised President Miloš Zeman’s spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček: the Constitutional Court chairman said it was not a spokesman’s place to judge public officials in private tweets, making clear he considered such behaviour a sackable offence which should lead to dismissal within the hour.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’ minority government presented its policy
program on Monday including six priority areas for the Czech Republic:
digitalisation, strategic investment, pension reform, a high profile within
the EU, state reform and increased security.
Another aspect envisioned by the government is free train travel for students up to the age to 26 and seniors over the age of 65.
Details were reportedly sent to the parties in parliament; the government is looking for, but not expected to get, backing in a confidence vote on Wednesday.
The police’s anti-corruption squad has recommended 18 people be charged
for large-scale tax evasion connected to diesel and gas transactions
between 2010 and 2011. The fuels were bought in Germany and Austria but the
VAT allegedly went unpaid; damages have been estimated at 1.4 billion
The news was confirmed by the spokesman for the National Centre Against Organised crime Jaroslav Ibehej.
Police have ordered an autopsy investigating the death of a man who set
himself and his car alight near Benešov in the early hours of Monday.
The incident took place at around 1 am. According to the police, the man
first tried to set another vehicle alight, before dousing himself with a
flammable substance and setting his own car on fire.
The vehicle was completely engulfed and fire fighters called to the scene were unable to save the person even though they reached him within minutes.
One fire fighter provided post-traumatic stress counselling to locals in the area.
The astronomical clock at the Old Town Hall in Prague is being removed on
Monday to undergo repairs. The work is expected to take five or six months.
The clock will be supplemented by original fragments that were removed
after it was damaged during the Prague Uprising of 1945, allowing the
mechanism to return to the form it had in the 1860s.
The oldest part of the astronomical clock, one of Prague’s best-known landmarks, dates back to 1410.
Incumbent Miloš Zeman says that if he does not make it into the second
round of Czech presidential elections next weekend he will not vote at all.
In a radio interview, Mr. Zeman said that he would not be able to support
any of the other eight candidates.
The president said ex-prime minister Mirek Topolánek and diplomat Pavel Fischer were the only other candidates with experience in politics. However, they did had not mastered the political arts, in his view.
Mr. Zeman also said that if re-elected he would not grant similar pardons to the one he had given convicted murderer Jiří Kajínek.
ANO could form a majority government ahead of a second vote of confidence
in the Chamber of Deputies, the party’s Jaroslav Faltýnek said on Czech
Television on Sunday. ANO concede that their minority one-party government
will not win an initial vote of confidence scheduled for Wednesday.
At present ANO only have the backing of their own 78 deputies in the 200-seat lower house. The Communist Party, with 15 seats, will decide on their position on Tuesday.
Mr. Faltýnek said that it might happen that ANO would be able to form a majority cabinet ahead of a second confidence vote. He said the party would begin talks with other parties immediately after Wednesday’s ballot.
ANO leader Andrej Babiš has said he would prefer a minority government even in the case of a second vote.
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