Several hundred supporters of the anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy
Party gathered on Wenceslas Square on Thursday afternoon to protest against
what the organizers called “the dictate of the European Union“.
The gathering was addressed by France’s Marie Le Pen and Geert Wilders from the Netherlands.
A counter-demonstration took place at the bottom end of Wenceslas Square and the police detained ten people in skirmishes.
Police raided offices at the Czech Agriculture Ministry early on Thursday
in connection with suspected subsidy fraud.
The raid was conducted by the country’s special unit for fighting organized crime. Its spokesman Jaroslav Ibehej confirmed the raid was in connection with a criminal investigation but refused to provide further details.No one has so far been detained.
According to the news site idnes the raid was conducted in connection with billion-crown subsidy programmes. The ministry, headed by Miroslav Toman of the Social Democrats, has made no comment.
President Miloš Zeman who is on an official visit to China aimed at
further boosting trade and investment between the two countries on Thursday
attended the signing of a memorandum on investments between the Czech
Republic and the Bank of China and the company CITIC.
The agreement envisages investments into the Czech economy to the tune of one billion dollars over the next two years. Bank of China representatives also signed an agreement with the Czech Chamber of Commerce regarding loans for Czech businesses to the tune of two billion dollars.
The Czech president is expected to meet with his Chinese counterpart and attend the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on Friday.
A number of EU member states including the Czech Republic have suspended
imports of Russian crude oil via the Druzba pipeline, citing contamination,
the Reuters news agency reported on Thursday.
Reuters said Poland and Germany had stopped accepting deliveries and the Czech Republic had also halted purchases, although the Belarusian pipeline company said customers along the southern leg were still receiving oil.
The quality problem arose last week when an unknown Russian producer contaminated the oil with high levels of organic chloride. The Russian energy ministry said Transneft was trying to fix the problem as soon as possible, giving no timeframe.
An international expert conference on the security of 5G networks due to be
held in Prague next week is not aimed against any given country or company,
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said on Thursday.
He said the aim of the meeting was to reach consensual, non-binding recommendations on how to proceed safely with the introduction of 5G networks. The recommendations should also contribute to discussions within the EU and NATO on a common approach to cyber threats.
The conference will take place at the Czech Foreign Ministry headquarters on May 2 -3 and will be attended by EU, NATO and OECD representatives.
Organisers say this year’s Metronome music festival in Prague will
feature 40 different artists while the city’s planetarium will become a
venue for the first time. Appearing at the event on June 21 and 22 will be
international acts Kraftwerk, Primal Scream, Liam Gallagher and Morcheeba,
alongside a host of well-known local artists.
This years will be the fourth edition of Metronome, which takes place at the Výstaviště exhibition grounds. Attendance last year was 18,000.
Meteorologists have issued fire warnings in the Czech Republic in response
to the unusually dry and warm weather the country has recently been
experiencing. People have been told not to light fires in wooded areas or
parks, not to drop cigarette butts and not to cook or barbeque in the
Rain is expected in most of the country on Friday night or Saturday, after which temperatures will fall markedly. Forecasters recently said that this month looked set to be the driest April on record. The Czech Republic has experienced major droughts in recent years.
Labour inspectors last year uncovered almost 4,600 people working illegally
in the Czech Republic. This was considerably higher than the figure for
2017, an official said on Wednesday. Employers were fined a total of over
CZK 151 million for hiring undocumented workers last year.
Some 80 percent of those caught working illegally in 2018 were from outside the European Union. Of those from inside the EU, the majority were Czech citizens, with the others mainly coming from Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.
The taxation of financial compensation paid to churches in lieu of
properties not returned in restitution could have dire consequences for
faith groups, religious leaders have said. In a statement on Wednesday, the
chairs of the Czech Bishops’ Conference, the Ecumenical Council of
Churches and the Federation of Jewish Communities said the move could cause
churches serious financial problems or even result in their demise.
The church leaders said the bill mandating such taxation was immoral and unconstitutional.
MPs on Tuesday overrode a Senate veto on the legislation. A tax on compensation was a condition of the Communists for supporting a minority cabinet of ANO and the Social Democrats.