The minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, says that the Czech
Republic on Tuesday asked Russia to hold discussions under a treaty on
mutual cooperation in a bid to clear up, among other things, a dispute
surrounding a statue of Red Army commander Ivan Konev. Mr. Petříček
announced the move in the lower house in response to an opposition call for
a debate on relations with Russia.
The Czech foreign policy chief called on MPs to not politicise the issue and to leave it to diplomats.
Russia was critical of the removal of the statue of Konev from Prague 6. The district’s mayor is now under police protection, as are the mayor of Prague and the mayor of another district. Media reports suggested the three were under threat from Russia but Moscow has strongly denied the allegation.
A Prague taxi driver who became one of the country’s best-known Covid-19
patients is due to be released on Tuesday. The man, who is 53, was admitted
to hospital on March 10 in a very serious condition. He was the first
patient in the Czech Republic to be treated with the experimental drug
Last week doctors said he had tested negative for the disease. He will now continue his recuperation at home.
The police have shelved two criminal complaints filed against former
National Gallery director Jiří Fajt by Antonín Staněk, an ex-minister
of culture. Mr. Staněk took the legal action shortly after he removed Mr.
Fajt from the role, accusing him of financial impropriety. The gallery boss
repeatedly denied the allegation.
The current arts minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, said his predecessor’s move had been clearly inappropriate and that he regretted what had happened.
Not all Czech arts institutions will make use of the possibility to reopen,
under certain restrictions, from next Monday. The head of Prague’s Archa
Theatre, Ondřej Hrab, said the conditions imposed were too complicated and
that it was aiming to restart on May 25, the date originally set under a
government road map.
The CAMP architecture centre said it would wait until May 26 to reopen, while Palace Akropolis said it was planning to do so in early June.
From Monday theatres and cinemas will be able to welcome a maximum of 100 guests. They will have to guarantee social distancing in their seating arrangements.
Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček and Senate speaker Miloš Vystrčil
were among those who laid wreathes at Czech Radio on Tuesday to mark the
75th anniversary of the start of the Prague Uprising. The traditional
memorial ceremony did not take place this year due to the coronavirus
In a radio address, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the nation owed great thanks and respect to those who had taken part in the uprising, adding that Prague had mainly been liberated by Czechs themselves.
The Prague Uprising began on May 5, 1945 following a call from Czechoslovak Radio, which became a focal point of the violence.
Czech and German leaders signed a ceasefire on May 8 but fighting only ended completely on May 9, when the Red Army entered the city.
The European Commission has approved the Czech Republic providing support
of CZK 142 billion to firms hit by the coronavirus situation. The aid will
take the form of guarantees on loans primarily to large companies with a
significant share of exports.
The European Commissioner for competition, Margrethe Vestager, said the measure would help Czech firms to carry on during the crisis and after it ends.
The scheme is open to companies who get a least one-fifth of their annual income from international sales.
The Social Democrats, a junior party in the ruling coalition, on Monday
rejected an amendment to the Public Health Protection Act, which would give
the Health Ministry greater powers in times of crisis.
The proposal, debated by the cabinet on Monday, was to have enabled the government to maintain a number of restrictions even after the state of emergency in the country ends on May 17.
Social Democrat leader Jan Hamáček argued that in its present form the proposed amendment is in violation of the constitution. He suggested instead an amendment to the constitutional law on security, saying that the Ministry of Interior, which he heads, would draft the amendment by Thursday.
Should that fail, the government would have to ask the lower house to further extend the state of emergency in the country.
The government has given operators the green light to renew international
rail, road and water transport as of Monday, May 11. Borders have been
closed since March 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic with only freight
trains and trucks allowed through check points.
Following an easing of restrictions, which now allow citizens to travel abroad for „substantiated reasons“ Prague’s main international airport is also renewing some air links. The first to be renewed this week were flights to Düsseldorfu and Amsterdam.
Czechs travelling abroad will have to produce a negative COVID 19 test upon their return or undergo a two week quarantine.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has proposed that Prague and Moscow
enter into a dialogue on the protection of monuments in order to prevent a
further deterioration of relations between the two countries.
The statement comes amid an escalating diplomatic row over the removal of a divisive statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev from its site in Prague 6, which Moscow claims to have violated the 1993 treaty between the two countries. Russia has filed criminal charges over the statue’s removal.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has dismissed the accusation saying that the 1993 treaty only commits both sides to the dignified treatment of each other’s monuments and their protection from damage.
Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček recently said that the Czech Republic is ready to negotiate handing over the statue to Russia, if there is interest in such a solution. He emphasized that the decision of the Prague 6 district authorities to remove the statue from its premises was the Czech Republic’s internal affair.
The statue of the controversial marshal who liberated Prague in 1945, but also had an active role in crushing the Hungarian Uprising and building the Berlin Wall, has been at the centre of a diplomatic row between the two countries for some time.
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