The Czech counterintelligence service says it has no information indicating
that foreign agents are working to influence the outcome of elections in
the Czech Republic. The statement comes in response to a request from
outgoing Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka for the intelligence services to
address the issue, after one of the hot candidates in the presidential
race, Jiří Drahoš, expressed concern that foreign agent and trolls were
using disinformation campaigns to influence the outcome of elections in
this country. In its October report the intelligence service BIS cited
heightened activities in the country by Russian agents. Prime Minister
Sobotka said the government was taking the possibility of such a threat
Meanwhile, President Miloš Zeman who is running for re-election has dismissed these concerns saying that Jiří Drahoš is trying to draw attention to himself through conspiracy theories. Zeman said it was an insult to voters’ common sense to think they might be swayed by foreign propaganda.
A Turkish court of appeals has upheld a six year sentence for two Czech
nationals, Markéta Všelichová and Miroslav Farkas, who were sentenced to
six years in prison in August of this year for allegedly supporting the
Kurdish militia YPG, which Turkey considers a terrorist group.
The couple denied the charges, maintaining they were humanitarian workers who had aimed to create a field hospital near the Turkish-Iraqi border. Both have appealed the decision with the Supreme Court, where they may have to wait between 3 and 9 months for a verdict.
The outgoing Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek tried to secure their release during talks in Ankara, without success. He said their possible extradition to the Czech Republic was complicated by the fact that the Czech Republic would have to accept the verdict which goes against the Constitution of the Czech Republic.
Prime minister designate Andrej Babiš has confirmed three more members of his nascent minority cabinet. Babiš told Czech Television that ANO deputy Adam Vojtěch would serve as the country’s new health minister, musicologist Ilja Šmíd as culture minister and ANO deputy Klára Dostálová would head the ministry for local development. The whole line up if the new cabinet has not as yet been made public. The president is to name Andrej Babiš prime minister on December 6th and it is expected that he will appoint his government to office on December 13th.
The introduction of stricter rules in emissions testing for vehicles has
had to be postponed by a month because roughly a third of the emission
testing centres do not have the required software in place to meet these
norm, Czech Radio reported on Friday, citing the Transport Ministry.
The new norms concern electronic documentation of the tests performed and were to prevent such centres from to issuing fake certificates to vehicle owners.
The Transport Ministry says it has postponed their introduction so that drivers are not inconvenienced by the fact that not all centres are ready for the change.
Czech economic growth in the third quarter accelerated from 4.7 to 5 percent compared to the previous quarter, according to figures released by the Czech Statistics Office. The growth was driven largely by increased domestic demand. According to economists it is the strongest year-on-year growth in 24 months. The positive trend is expected to continue.
The law on electronic cash registers introduced by the outgoing government
has had a positive impact on state finances, Finance Minister Ivan Pilný
said at a press briefing in Prague on Friday. He said that since the law on
compulsory electronic cash registers was introduced in January, the state
had collected an additional 4.1 billion crowns in taxes, a figure that
could rise to 5 billion by the end of the year.
Over 160,000 entrepreneurs registered with the ministry in the first year and another 300,000 will start delivering electronic records of their earnings in 2018.
The centre-right parties have criticized the move saying it will put many small entrepreneurs out of business. According to the Czech Association of Hotels and Restaurants over 3,000 restaurants closed their doors following its introduction. The chairman of the association Václav Stárek told the ctk news agency that while the number was slightly higher than in previous years it was not a dramatic decline.
Czech president Miloš Zeman is due Wednesday to accept the credentials of
proposed US ambassador to the Czech Republic Steve King. The news was
confirmed by the president’s spokesman.
King, a rich businessman and Republican supporter with no diplomatic experience has been in Prague since the start of November. Acceptance of his credentials will mean he can officially start in the post.
King is, according to US media reports, not that personally connected with US president Donald Trump but rather to some of his close advisors.
Czech tennis player Radek Štěpánek has been officially named the trainer
of former world number one singles player Novak Djokovic.
The announcement was made within three weeks of the two times Czech Davis Cup winner announcing his retirement from the game. The two players, both living in Monoco, are already friends.
Štěpánek said that the agreement of Andre Agassi, who is also training the Serb player, was a key to the agreement that he take up the role. Sidelined by injury, Djokovic intends to start playing again from December 28.
ANO leader Andrej Babiš confirmed Thursday that current deputy finance
minister Alena Schillerová has been pencilled in to be the new finance
minister in his incoming Cabinet.
The former finance minister Ivan Pilný had stepped down from the post and said he would not seek to continue.
Schillerová was closely involved with the phase in of the electronic cash register system, a flagship measure of Babiš when he was finance minister.