President Miloš Zeman called a meeting of party leaders of the government coalition in the northern city of Liberec on Wednesday evening. The head of state is currently on a tour of the region. The meeting was, according to his spokesman, aimed at ending the current government crisis focused on prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s moves to sack finance minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš due to his financial dealings. Babiš confirmed he would take part but Sobotka’s involvement looked problematic given that he was supposed to start a two-day visit to Luxembourg on Wednesday afternoon as the announcement was made. The party later said interior minister Milan Chovanec would attend.
ANO representatives called for the revocation of the current coalition agreement during talks between party leaders of the current Czech government. The move was rejected by the leaders of the main government party, the Social Democrats, according to Christian Democrat leader Pavel Bělobrádek. The party leaders agreed they did not want early elections. They did not set a date for further talks. The Christian Democrats said they had expected ANO counterparts to name a possible successor to Andrej Babiš as finance minister. ANO leaders said deputy finance minister Alena Schillerová could replace Babiš.The discussion was called to seek a way out of the current crisis sparked by the prime minister’s call for Babiš to resign as minister over his financial dealings.
The Czech annual inflation rate in April was 2.0 percent, down from 2.6 percent in March, the Czech Statistical Office announced on Wednesday. The monthly rate was unchanged for the third month in a row. Higher prices for clothes and shoes were offset by price decreases for alcoholic drinks and food. Lower food prices were the main factor in the drop in annual inflation as well.
Czech police have issued a warrant for the arrest of Russian artist Oleg Vorotnikov, according to the website Aktualne.cz. A Prague court said that broken promises that he gave last year about attending hearings and could not be found at the address he gave. Vorotnikov is in Prague with his wife and three children but Russian authorities have asked for his extradition. One of the most noted exploits of Vorotnikov’s artistic group was drawing a giant penis on a St Petersburg drawbride that faced the city headquarters of the secret police, the FSB. The Czech minister of justice has suggested it is unlikely Vorotnikov would be handed over to Russian authorities.
Police have abandoned an investigation into allegations that president Miloš Zeman’s former head of protocol Jindřich Forejt was the victim of blackmail, according to the news server Seznam.cz. The police investigation was dropped at the end of April with Forejt’s claim from October last year that he was the subject of an extortion plot not proved. Forejt stepped down from his post in December after the leaking of compromising photos from a video showing him semi-naked and sniffing a white substance. He had long lined himself up to be Czech ambassador to the Vatican with backing for the move from the head of state.
Unemployment in April fell to 4.4 percent from March’s 4.8 percent, the third monthly drop in a row, according to the national labour office. The total numbered of those declared seeking and available for work was just under 327,200, the lowest April figure since 2008. The number of job vacancies stood at just over 159,000.
Industrial production advanced by 4.4 percent in March compared with the same month a year earlier, taking account of the number of working days, and by 10.9 percent when the difference was not factored in. Month-on-month there was a decrease 0.4 percent. The value of new orders rose by 15.1 percent compared with March 2016 with the value of domestic new orders slightly outstripping foreign demand.
Junior coalition party the Christian Democrats have called on President Miloš Zeman to cancel a trip to China due to start on Thursday in view of the government crisis. The cabinet is due to approve funding for the visit at a meeting on Wednesday but two Christian Democrat ministers, Daniel Herman and Marian Jurečka, have said they will vote against. Ministers from the Social Democrats have pulled out of Mr. Zeman’s delegation for the China visit, saying it was more important to remain in Prague during the ongoing political crisis. The president is refusing to follow Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s instruction to dismiss Andrej Babiš as finance minister. A group of senators said if he does not do so within a week they will take the matter to the Constitutional Court.