The candidate for minister of defence, Martin Stropnický, says that despite expressing reservations about him President Miloš Zeman will appoint him to the post. Mr. Stropnický of ANO made the comments after a meeting with Mr. Zeman at Prague Castle on Wednesday as part of a series of talks the president is having with cabinet nominees. The head of state had previously expressed doubts over the suitability of Mr. Stropnický and other ministerial candidates. After recently making the Social Democrats’ Bohuslav Sobotka prime minister, Mr. Zeman is expected to appoint a coalition composed of that party, ANO and the Christian Democrats in the coming weeks.
The three parties in the emerging government have approved a new civil service bill in its first reading in the lower house. President Miloš Zeman made the amendment passing in the first reading a condition for appointing a three-party coalition government. While its backers say the law is necessary in order to depoliticise the civil service, the opposition were angered that it allows ANO chief Andrej Babiš to take up a ministerial post; he is accused of having collaborated with the communist-era secret police and may not have received an otherwise necessary clean screening certificate.
The Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday approved in the first reading a constitutional amendment extending the powers of the Supreme Audit Office. It gives the state agency the powers to carry out audits on regional and municipal authorities, health insurers, public universities and public-benefit corporations run by regional and local authorities. Deputies also returned a different bill on the Supreme Audit Office for reworking, which in effect means MPs will in future only consider the constitutional amendment.
All of the 111 deputies in the planned government of the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats have now signed a coalition agreement between the three, the head of the Christian Democrats’ deputies group, Marian Jurečka, told reporters on Wednesday. Mr. Jurečka had said on Tuesday that a number of his party’s MPs had reservations about the government’s policy programme, such as in the field of health care. The leaders of the three parties put their signatures to the coalition deal on January 6.
Nine people have been arrested following raids by the police’s organised crime unit on two Czech Post buildings in Prague on Wednesday. Three of those arrested are Czech Post employees. A police spokesperson said the operation concerned an organised group that had manipulated Czech Post tenders relating to construction projects. Právo reported that the raids and arrests were linked to a former Czech Post employee who was in charge of public tenders and left the organisation six months ago.
Plans to make Prague’s Smetanovo nábřeží embankment and Malá Strana car-free once the tunnel Blanka goes into operation may not now go ahead, iDnes.cz reported. Turning the embankment and Malá Strana into pedestrian-only zones would cause transport problems elsewhere in the centre of the city, according to a report commissioned by City Hall and quoted by the news site. An experiment in which Smetanovo nábřeží, running from Charles Bridge to the National Theatre, was closed to cars for several Saturdays last autumn led to traffic jams in other places, while tram services had to be rerouted.
Hořící keř (Burning Bush), Polish director Agnieszka Holland’s film about the aftermath of the 1969 self-immolation of Jan Palach, has received 14 nominations for this year’s Czech Lion domestic movie awards. Jako nikdy (Like Never Before) by Zdeněk Tyc has 12 nominations. The Czech Lion awards are voted on by the Czech Film and Television Academy. This year the event, which is under new management, will take place at Prague’s Rudolfinum on February 22.
Dominik Lang, who is 33, has won Czech art’s Personality of the Year award. The jury selected him on the basis of two solo exhibition he had last year, one in Vienna and one in České Budějovice, while they also praised his entry in the exhibition of finalists for the Jindřich Chalupecký Award. Lang is the youngest artist to win the Personality of the Year prize and the first to hold it simultaneously with the Chalupecký Award.
Czech ice hockey goaltender Tomáš Vokoun is due to play for the first time since September after suffering from blood clots and undergoing emergency surgery. Vokoun, who is 37, will line up for Pittsburgh Penguins in a game on Wednesday, the club’s coach Dan Bylsma told a newspaper. Bylsma said the goalie had stopped taking blood thinning medication a week ago and would undergo tests after the match.
The Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute has extended a black ice alert for the entire Czech Republic. It had been in place until 11:00 on Wednesday but has been prolonged indefinitely. Motorists in all regions of the country faced snow and ice on Wednesday morning, though road maintenance officials said all motorways were clear. Several centimetres of snow fell on Tuesday night.