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20-05-2020

PM: Former coronavirus crisis staff lead Roman Prymula offered government comissioner position

Deputy Health Minister Roman Prymula, who was the head of the country’s Central Crisis Staff in the initial phase of the COVID-19 quarantine in March has been offered the position of Government Commissioner for Science and Research.

An epidemiologist, Mr Prymula, who has been at the forefront of communications with the media during the crisis and is seen by many as a leading voice in the Czech response to COVID-19, announced earlier last week that he will resign from the Health Ministry at the end of May unless two unpublicised conditions that he gave the prime minister are met. Mr Babiš told iDnes.cz that Prymula and Health Minister Adam Vojtěch had “not been on the best of terms with each other”.

Health Minister Vojtěch told Czech Television that he cannot envision Prymula remaining in his current position, because he does not like his past statements and the fact that Prymula apparently refuses to discuss affairs with him.

President names Petr Angyalossy new head of Supreme Court

Czech President Miloš Zeman named Petr Angyalossy as the new head of the country’s Supreme Court this Wednesday. Mr Angyalossy said his priorities will be to speed up court processes, strenghten public faith in the judiciary and bring about generational change within the court.

The 56-year-old judge had until now been one of the younger members of the Supreme Court. He graduated from the Faculty of Law at the Masaryk University in Brno and became has been a judge since 1996. He then served in various position in the judiciary of the country's Olomouc Region until becoming a member of the Supreme Court in 2017.

The position of the chairman of the second highest court in the country became vacant in February after the then Chairman of the Supreme Court, Pavel Šámal, was named a member of the Constitutional Court.

Scientists discover oldest cave drawing in Czech Republic

Scientists have carbon-dated a recently discovered cave drawing to be 7,000 years old, making it the oldest in found in the Czech Republic to date. The drawing is located in the Kateřinska Cave of the Moravian Karst. It is made up of simple black lines drawn on one of the rocks. It is believed the rock itself was used for some sort of cult purposes.

The same cave was until now the record holder with another drawing dating back to 4,200 BCE, which was discovered a year ago.

Number of infected in Darkov Mine coronavirus outbreak continues to rise

The number of patients infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus around the centre of the outbreak in the Silesian Darkov Mine rose to 119 as of Wednesday morning, according to the spokesman for Moravian-Silesian Hygienists Radim Mudra. Out of these 113 are employees of the mining complex and doctors expect the number of registered infections among their family members to rise further.

Large scale testing was ordered after the virus was discovered among the miners last week. The mine is already operating under strict hygienic measures, but more are to be put in place after the testing is concluded.

Former Czech Railways director says “there was interest” in MAFRA to receive biggest ad deals

The former head of Czech Railways Miroslav Kupec said that there “was interest” in the media publishing company MAFRA, owned by Agrofert, the business holding created by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, to be “most busy” when asked by Czech Radio why the country’s main rail transport provider issued advertising deals worth CZK 112 million in MAFRA’s publications in 2015.

Mr Kupec was the director of Czech Railways from September 2018 to June 2019. He said that he was informed “through multiple sources” that the advertising contracts should continue when he was in charge, but said he did his outmost to lower expenditure on advertising.

Czech Railways spent seven times more on advertising in MAFRA publications than in the country’s other similar sized media company the Czech News Centre, Blanka Hejlová from the Department of Marketing Communication and Public Relations at Charles University told Czech Radio’s iRozhlas.

Prime Minister Babiš is no longer in charge of Agrofert, having placed the company in trust funds to avoid accusations of a conflict of interest. However, a European Commission audit did state that there is an ongoing conflict of interest despite the move.

New website documents fate of Czechoslovak citizens interned in Soviet Gulag camps

The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (ÚSTR) has launched a new website which details the findings of historians about the political repressions against Czechoslovak citizens and Czechs living in the Soviet Union, many of whom ended up being interned in the notorious Gulag labour camps.

Called Čechoslováci v gulagu (Czechoslovaks in the Gulag), the website contains information on popular articles, books, exhibitions and video recordings of discussions linked to the topic.

The institute says it conducted dozens of interviews with witnesses and survivors of victims of Soviet repression and obtained a number of documents, photographs or manuscript memoirs from family archives.

Number of ransomware attacks rises by 40 percent since March

Since quarantine and social distancing rules were put in place in March, the number of ransomware attacks in the Czech Republic increased by 40 percent compared to the start of the year.

The highest rate of registered cyber-blackmail was in March, with the amount beginning to return to normal rates in April, according to antivirus software company Avast. It seems that ransomware attacks are a global phenomenon during this period, rising by 20 percent worldwide. Ransomware attacks also targeted two Czech hospitals.

Analysts have noted two current major trends. The first are large-scale attacks targeting end users, smaller manufacturers and service businesses. The second ternd is attacks aimed at specific targets such as large companies or institutions from the health, transport and education sectors

Czech Republic cannot be lackey of China, says Senate speaker

The speaker of the Czech Senate, Miloš Vystrčil, says if China tells the Czech Republic and its upper house how to behave this will increase the likelihood of him visiting Taiwan, adding that his country cannot be a lackey. He made these comments after a meeting with President Vystrčil Zeman on Tuesday. Mr. Vystrčil said the head of state had told him that a mission to Taiwan would not contribute to the Czech economy.

In January the Chinese Embassy in Prague warned Mr. Vystrčil’s late predecessor, Jaroslav Kubera, not to go through with a planned visit to Taiwan. Mr. Vystrčil said this constituted unacceptable interference in Czech internal affairs.

Metnar: Czech state unable to hand Konev statue over to Russia

The Czech minister of defence, Lubomír Metnar, says his country respects the Red Army soldiers who fell during the liberation of Czechoslovakia but is unable to hand over a statue of commander Ivan Konev to Russia. The monument was removed by the Prague 6 district authority in April, provoking anger in Moscow.

In a letter to his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu, Mr. Metnar said the statue of Konev belonged to Prague 6 and did not fall under war graves, which the Czech state looks after.

The Czech minister said planned consultations between the foreign ministers of the two countries could help overcome problems that have burdened relations recently.

Weather

Temperatures are expected to remain largely the same on Thursday, hovering between 17 to 21 degrees Celsius. Clear skies are likely above the north-east of the country, with clouds expected elsewhere.

20-05-2020