European funds should not have been used to subsidize Čapí hnízdo (the Stork Farm), independent news site Neovlivni.cz reported on Monday. The news site reported it had complete documentation related to the case, which it said revealed that funding for EU funds included incorrect information which constituted fraud. The Stork Farm facility was previously owned by the giant agro-chemical group Agrofert (2007/2008) which belongs to Finance Minister Andrej Babiš. Czech police have until the end of March to complete the investigation into the matter, which is also being investigated by the European Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF. On Monday, Mr Babis said he had nothing to say on the matter. He expressed the view the story was being whipped up by reporters who used to work for publisher Mafra, after it became a subsidiary of Agrofert.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will meet with President Miloš Zeman on Thursday this week to inform the head of state about his nominee for the post of Minister of Industry and Trade. There is speculation the person in question could be Deputy Minister Jiří Havlíček or the chairman of the Administration for State Reserves, Pavel Švagr. Social Democrat MP Milan Urban, who held the post in the past, has also been listed in the media as a possible choice.
The Embassy of Ukraine has strongly criticised Czech MP Jaroslav Holík for allegedly taking part in celebrations marking the third anniversary of the annexation of Crimea by Russian forces. The story was reported Monday by the Czech News Agency. The Embassy of Ukraine in Prague said in a statement that Mr Holík, an MP for the Movement of Freedom and Direct Democracy which splintered from the upstart Dawn Party, was reportedly one of a handful of foreign politicians to take part; the embassy has asked the Czech Chamber of Deputies to investigate the visit. The Czech News Agency said, according to its own information, that the visit was private and not official.
The Christian Democrats and the STAN party of mayors and independents could play an important role in forming the next government, political analysts have told the Czech News Agency. The parties agreed at the weekend on running together in the parliamentary elections in October and will together need to equal or surpass a joint-10 percent threshold to make it into the Chamber of Deputies. Political scientists likewise suggested to ČTK that the move was also a gamble: a poll last Friday by the STEM agency had STAN polling at around 2.5 percent and the Christian Democrats, the junior party in the current government, at around 7.6.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek has warned that the European Union needs to learn from Brexit and needs to listen more to its citizens or risk falling apart. He made the statement in an interview for the financial daily Hospodářské noviny published on Monday. In the interview, Mr Zaorálek was also quoted by the paper as saying the EU needed to control the movement of labour in the 27-member bloc. But on Monday, Mr Zaorálek issued a response saying that his words had been taken out of context by the daily, affirming that he was a supporter of the freedom of movement of labour in the EU. Opposition party TOP 09 had taken issue with the interview as published saying that restrictions on the movement of labour would only hurt the Czech economy.
The Office for the Protection of Competition in the Czech Republic has fined the City of Prague 11 million crowns for mistakes connected to a public tender for the construction of Troja Bridge, which was built as part of Prague’s Blanka tunnel complex. In a press release, the bureau said that the bridge eventually built differed substantially in design from the former plans and cost almost three times the original estimated cost of 500 million crowns. The Office for the Protection of Competition repeatedly dealt with the case and Monday’s decision is final, bureau chairman Petr Rafaj confirmed.
Tomáš Plekanec broke a two-month drought and scored his eighth goal of the season in the Montreal Canadiens’ 4-1 win against the Ottawa Senators. He scored just 28 seconds into the match, picking up and slotting the rebound from an Andrej Markov shot seconds earlier. Plekanec, who is 34, missed three matches in March due to injury. Montreal are currently top in the Atlantic division and fifth in the Eastern Conference.
Viktoria Plzeň have regained top position in Czech soccer’s top division. The West Bohemian side leapfrogged Slavia Prague into first place after a 3:2 away win over Karviná on Sunday. The winning goal in that game came in the 89th minute. Slavia had previously dropped two points after a 1:1 away draw with Slovan Liberec.
Monday is the 25th anniversary of the opening of the first branch of the fast food chain McDonald’s in the then Czechoslovakia. An estimated 11,000 people turned up for the opening of the company’s first outlet on Prague’s Vodičkova street on 20 March 1992, iDnes.cz wrote. Visiting McDonald’s was for many a rare treat in the beginning, with hamburgers costing 19 crowns compared to 25 crowns today.