President Miloš Zeman has tasked the head of BIS, Michal Koudelka, with
investigating whether the deadly nerve gas novichok was ever produced or
stored in the Czech Republic.
He gave the counter-intelligence head the job the same day the prime minister, Andrej Babiš, announced three Russian diplomats would be expelled from the country in connection with the recent poison attack on a former spy and his daughter in the UK.
Other European countries as well as the US took similar steps in solidarity.
The government already sharply rejected the suggestion that the nerve agent could have come from this country. The president's task for the head of counter-intelligence thus appeared to run counter to both the government's response as well as the prime minister's words on Monday, when he said that Russia had significantly crossed the line by suggesting the trail led here.
President Miloš Zeman's support for Russia and the Putin regime is well-documented; the head of state has advocated sanctions against Russia being dropped, in the face of EU and US support, and in the past called the annexation of Crime a "fait accompli".
The head of the president's foreign affairs office, meanwhile, tweeted Monday the expulsion was "merely symbolic" and suggested that reciprocal action by Russia would hurt the Czech Republic.
ANO would win 30.5 percent of the vote if elections were held today, a new
poll by the CVVM agency suggests while opposition parties the Pirates and
the Civic Democrats would tie for second with 12.5 percent each.
The Communists and the Social Democrats, the poll suggests, would pick up 11 percent each, while the last to make it into the lower house would be Freedom and Direct Democracy at 6.5.
The poll is not the first to indicate that three centre-right parties – the Christian Democrats, TOP 09 and STAN – would not win a single seat in the Chamber of Deputies, missing the five percent threshold. Each would receive 4.5 percent if the election were held now.
Defence Minister Karla Šlechtová and Michal Koudelka, the head of the
country’s counter-intelligence service BIS, travelled to Lány Chateau on
Monday to meet with Czech President Miloš Zeman.
The meeting was in order to inform the head of state about the agreed
expulsion of three Russian diplomats in solidarity with the UK, along with
other EU countries and the United States, over the nerve gas attack in
Salisbury, England, which left a former double agent and his daughter in
critical condition. The news was reported by public broadcaster Czech TV.
The decision was taken despite words by Communist Party leader Vojtěch Filip at the weekend that in the future he hoped such a move would be consulted first with the communists if support for the government was expected. The prime minister has been seeking tacit support from the Communist Party in his attempt to form a minority government with the Social Democrats.
The Czech Republic will expel three Russian diplomats in reaction to the
recent poisoning of a former double agent and his daughter in Great
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the measure was a display of solidarity with the UK and charged that Russia had gone far over the line with the claim that the nerve agent used in the attack could have originated in Czechia. The prime minister made the statement after meeting with members of his cabinet including foreign minister Martin Stropnický.
Mr Babiš told journalists that he had also been in contact with the country’s president over the matter. The prime minister stressed that the Czech Republic was firmly integrated within the EU and NATO and made clear that when the country was asked by an ally for help in a grave situation, the country would respond.
On Monday, CNN reported that in the US, President Donald Trump had ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle in response to the UK nerve agent attack; European countries besides the Czech Republic which have already done so include Germany, France, and Poland but the wave of expulsions is expected to continue.
Federica Mogherini – the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – recalled the EU ambassador in Russia for consultations. EU leaders agreed last week it was highly likely Russia was behind the nerve agent poisoning.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned the EU for its "perverted interpretation of solidarity" with the UK, CNN reported, adding that Russia had indicated it would respond "proportionately".
Russia has denied any role in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter; the pair remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital.
The national football squad finished third of four teams in the 2018 China
Cup. After getting off to a losing start against Uruguay on Friday (2:0),
the team downed hosts China 4:1, with all four of the Czech team’s goals
coming in the second half.
China had opened the scoring in the fifth minute.
Wales face Uruguay in the final in Nanning on Monday.
The prime minister in resignation Andrej Babiš met on Monday with Paul
Ryan, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives. On the agenda was
economic cooperation, cooperation in scientific fields and celebrations
marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia.
The politician is in the Czech Republic on a two-day private visit. On Tuesday, he will address a special session of the lower house before attending a conference on Czech-US relations in the Senate.
The Speaker of the US House of Representatives is the highest US top official to visit the Czech Republic in nine years.
The number of patients ill with the flu in Prague has fallen below 1,000
cases per 100,000 residents, meaning that the most recent flu epidemic is
over in the capital. Since last autumn, 67 patients had to be hospitalised
due to flu-related health complications; 17 people died.
The news was confirmed by Prague’s Hygiene Office; the largest drop in the number of cases was in schoolchildren between the ages of six and 14.
A preparatory meeting for ECOSOC, the United Nations Economic and Social
Council focussing on “sustainable, resilient and inclusive societies”
got underway at Prague’s Černín Palace (the seat of the Czech Foreign
Ministry) on Monday.
Representatives from 67 countries are taking part.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed told journalists before the start of the event that attendees would be discussing possible solutions to ongoing international problems including climate change, migration and ongoing conflicts.
The Prague meeting is focussing on developmental goals in the UN’s Agenda 2030 which covers the biggest challenges facing global society.
More than 10,000 people have signed an appeal initiated by leading Czech
film-makers in support of Czech Television in reaction to President Miloš
Zeman's inauguration address attacking the public broadcaster and
The appeal calls on politicians and other public personalities to resist the effort to eliminate the independence of the strongest public media outlet.
Oscar-winning film director Jan Svěrák first read out the appeal during the Czech Lion film award-giving ceremony in Prague's Rudolfinum concert hall two weeks ago.
It has since been signed by a number of well-known personalities from other fields as well as by hundreds of ordinary people.