A three-year legal battle came to an end on Tuesday when the Czech Republic’s highest court rejected a challenge to a conflict of interest law. The legislation was dubbed “lex Babiš” for seeming to target the billionaire prime minister. However, judges denied it placed excessive restrictions on Mr. Babiš or other public officials.
A group of activists protested against the practice of Airbnb at the weekend, holding a three-day-long brainstorm on how to tackle the phenomenon of short-term letting platforms which many believe is hollowing out organic neighbourhoods in the centre. They were joined by Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib, who revealed details about a new City Hall plan for tougher regulations.
Philosopher and one-time dissident Jan Sokol is perhaps best-known among the Czech public as a failed presidential candidate, having missed out to Václav Klaus in the final round of voting in 2003, the last time the country’s head of state was chosen by legislators. Professor Sokol has known the current, directly elected president since before 1989 – and offers sharp criticism of Miloš Zeman in this the second half of a two-part interview. But first we discuss the period when, after the fall of communism, he was finally allowed to pursue an academic
The Czech transport minister has been sacked for mismanaging a tender to operate a new online system of motorway vignette sales. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš moved swiftly on Monday to stop a 400-million crown deal going ahead, accepting an offer from IT specialists who said they would work for free to produce a fully functional online sales system by next Monday.
The Czech army launched its new 533 Unmanned Systems Battalion on Thursday. Currently the country’s armed forces operate a number of small drones, but according to Chief of the General Staff Aleš Opata, the army will soon buy at least one larger, heavier unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), capable of both reconnaissance and combat.
The search for the Czech Republic’s next ombudsman continues to be marred by controversy. After withdrawing his first nomination, the president announced a new candidate for the post, former deputy ombudsman Stanislav Křeček. However, while in that position the octogenarian had serious disagreements with the current public defender of citizens’ rights.
The Czech government’s Commissioner for Human Rights Helena Válková (ANO) is under pressure after the news site Info.cz accused her of defending laws used against dissidents during the normalisation era, providing an article on “protective surveillance” that she penned with a famous show trial procurator in 1979 as evidence. Mrs Válková told Czech Radio that the accusation was a “horrendous lie”. However, the opposition has called for her resignation and even the prime minister says that the allegations need to be explained.
Million Moments for Democracy, the anti-government protest movement that brought hundreds of thousands of Czechs onto the streets last year, has set its sights on helping traditional democratic parties opposed to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who is under criminal investigation, win the next parliamentary elections. At a press conference in Prague on Tuesday afternoon the movement’s leaders announced a new concept for the organisation called Million Moments 3.0. I asked its deputy head, Benjamin Roll, to define what it means and explain their new
The government has approved new legislation which would ban armed paramilitaries and vigilante groups pursuing a religious, nationalist or similar agenda. Those who break the law would pay a substantial fine. Meanwhile, unarmed communal groups aimed at strengthening local security, such as neighbourhood watches, will continue to be legal and state security forces members will have greater freedom to use their weapons.