Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has announced that he is to step down as chairman of the Social Democratic Party on Thursday. He is to remain as head of government until after general elections in October. Mr. Sobotka made the announcement after a meeting of senior Social Democrat leaders on Wednesday evening. Deputy party chief Milan Chovanec, who is minister of the interior, will take over from Mr. Sobotka. At the same time, the outgoing chairman said he would recommend to senior party leadership that the minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, head the party’s general election campaign in a move seen as attempting to reverse recent falls in the party’s opinion poll ratings. Mr. Chovanec said he expected the Social Democrats to hold an extraordinary congress after October’s elections to choose a new chairman. Bohuslav Sobotka, who is 45, became chairman of the Social Democrats in 2011.
The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, wants to speak to the Czech Republic’s commissioner, Věra Jourová, after she criticised the body’s decision to launch proceedings against the Czech Republic for rejecting refugee quotas. Czech Television reported the news on Wednesday, quoting a senior source in Brussels. Poland and Hungary will also face action over their refusal to take in compulsory numbers of refugees. The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said on Tuesday that his government had already prepared arguments with which to defend its position before the European Commission.
The Czech Republic will file a complaint at the European Union Court of Justice against EU legislation on weapons by the middle of August. The minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec, said the government had approved the legal action on Wednesday. Prague says the EU’s amended guidelines making it harder to acquire weapons represent discrimination, as well as being disproportionate and unpractical. The move, which was approved by the European Parliament in March, is intended to curb terrorism. For his part, Mr. Chovanec argues that people with gun licenses should be able to use their weapons against terrorists.
The speaker of the Senate, Milan Štěch, has rejected an offer from František Čuba to stop taking a senator’s salary after failing to appear in the upper house since August last year. Mr. Čuba, who is 81, has been suffering from health problems. However, Mr. Štěch said the best solution would be for him to either resign from his seat or to go on official sick leave. The Senate speaker also said Mr. Čuba could continue to collect his salary and give it to charity. The head of Mr. Čuba’s Party of Civic Rights, Jan Velelba, said his colleague would like to remain an unpaid senator but operate only in his constituency. Under communism, Mr. Čuba headed a well-known collective farm for almost three decades.
The leaders of the coalition partners have agreed a legislative agenda for the remainder of the government’s term of office. The head of the Social Democrats deputies group, Roman Sklenák, said that the coalition would not be putting forward previously discussed laws on insolvency, social housing or alimony assistance. He said 20 bills were ready for their third hearings and the government hoped to discuss up to 18 more. ANO deputies group head Jaroslav Faltýnek said the only first reading that his party might submit was on a register of contracts, which could go through an accelerated approval process. General elections are due in October.
The television station Sky Sport Italia has reported that the Czech striker Patrik Schick is set to join Juventus from Sampdoria on a five-year contract worth EUR 30.5 million. If confirmed, the deal would make the 21-year-old the second most expensive Czech footballer ever after Pavel Nedvěd, who also joined Juventus at a fee of EUR 38.5 million in 2001. Schick, who is expected to sign with Juventus after a medical in the coming days, scored 11 goals for Sampdoria last term in his first season in Italy.
The police are now investigating 180 people in connection with a case of alleged bribery of doctors by pharmaceuticals distributors, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Wednesday. Representatives of two drugs companies are accused of giving money to doctors that the organised crime police say was for prescribing certain medicines. The doctors say that the money was a reward for conducting patient surveys and other forms of cooperation. To date charges have been filed against 34 people, the newspaper said.
The European Commission has decided to launch proceedings against the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary for refusing to accept migrants allocated to them under a compulsory EU quota system. The news was announced by the commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, Dimitris Avramopulos, in Strasbourg on Tuesday. The Czech Republic is adamant that it will not take part in the quota system, the country’s prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, told reporters. He said the Prague government had already prepared arguments with which to defend its position before the European Commission. Mr. Sobotka said the Czech Republic did not face any fines at present.
A new website launched on Tuesday by the Security Services Archive (www.mvu.ebadatelna.cz) allows the public access to information on the daily workings of the Communist-run Ministry of the Interior and an overview of key personnel in the StB secret police and their activities. Visitors will also be able to view records kept on a number of well-known figures at the website, which covers the period from 1969 until February 1990, when the StB was abolished. The archive is the Czech Republic’s main repository for communist-era secret police files.