Prime Minister Andrej Babiš wants to push through a change of legislation
which would allow the rapid deployment of the country’s special forces in
allied foreign missions without the approval of Parliament.
The prime minister made the announcement shortly after visiting one of the country’s special units in Prostějov, saying a situation could arise where it would be necessary to send out a special unit within hours or even undertake a secret mission. He said that in such cases approval from the government’s National Security Council should be enough.
The idea was sharply rejected both by the prime minister’s partner in coalition, the Social Democrats, and the Communist Party which supports the minority government.
Russia is the most active country in trying to influence elections and
democratic processes on the international scene, Czech BIS
counter-intelligence head Michal Koudelka said at a Prague seminar on
European elections and hybrid warfare.
Koudelka said the Kremlin used both governmental and non-governmental resources for this end, using means such as sending emails to selected groups of people, opening social media accounts under fake identities and the hacking and subsequent publishing of illegally gained information with the intent of harming a specific group or candidate.
It is Russia’s aim to undermine European integrity, weaken democratic institutions in EU member states and the trust of the public in these institutions, Koudelka said.
The newly-appointed transport minister, Vladimír Kremlík, has sacked the
head of the Road and Motorway Directorate Jan Kroupa for the slow pace of
road construction and persisting problems with the reconstruction of the
country’s D1 highway leading from Prague to Brno.
Kroupa has been in office since 2014. He is to be replaced by Pavol Kováčik, head of the supervisory council of the State Fund for Transport Infrastructure.
The head of the Social Democratic Party Jan Hamáček has no plans to sack
Culture Minister Antonín Staněk even after meeting with leading
signatories of a petition calling for his dismissal over the sacking of the
head of the Czech National Gallery Jiří Fajt and the head of the Olomouc
Museum of Arts Michal Soukup.
Critics claim the sackings were a political decision and 5,000 people have now signed a petition for the culture minister’s dismissal.
Party leader Jan Hamáček said after the meeting he was in favour of holding an open competition for the two posts as soon as possible. Minister Staněk sacked the two heads citing the outcome of audits at their respective galleries.
The Senate has moved to scrap a law according to which large retail outlets
must remain closed on selected public holidays. The proposal was included
in an amendment to the law which will now go back to the Chamber of
The lower house previously rejected a similar proposal including a proposal for the ban to be extended to all public holidays. The law, which went into force in 2016 bans outlets bigger than 200 square metres from selling goods on eight public holidays of the year, among the October 28, Christmas, Easter Monday and May 8.
It is still vehemently opposed by the Czech Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Trade and Tourism which says it discriminates large sales outlets.
The head of the Czech Business and Trade Association Marta Nováková says large retail stores lose billions of crowns in profits on each public holiday on which they are forced to close their doors.
The Prague ring road, which was blocked by a serious accident on Thursday,
reopened to drivers late on Friday morning.
One person was killed and 14 were injured in a head-on collision of a prison service bus transporting nine prisoners and ten security guards with a lorry carrying two veteran tanks to Plzen to be used in the end-of-war celebrations this weekend.
A fire broke out immediately after the collision in which the bus was completely destroyed and the lorry and tanks damaged.
The accident happened near Řeporyje, in the direction of the airport. The cause of the accident is being investigated.
The Czech National Bank has lowered its forecast for the development of
public finances in 2019 and 2020, in its Inflation Reports summary
published on Friday. The bank now expects a surplus of 0.3 percent of GDP
in 2019, as opposed to February’s more optimistic estimate of 1.2
percent. The new expectations for 2020 have gone down even more sharply
from February’s 1.3 percent to the current forecast of 0.2 percent. This
year, public debt is expected to sink from 32.7 percent of GDP to 30.9
percent. Next year, a further decrease to 29.3 percent forecast.
In a prognosis released on Thursday, the bank also lowered the country’s economic growth projection to 2.5 percent in 2019 and 2.8 percent in 2020. A further decrease in the Czech crown’s exchange rate is also expected.
Prague has come out on top in a world-wide study conducted by AppJobs.com,
a popular website and app that focuses on helping students find part-time
work. The Czech capital beat Moscow and Berlin to the top spot.
AppJobs created the ranking based on five indicators – the average monthly rent, the ease of finding part time jobs, the cost of a pint as well as the number of concerts and shows in the city, and the amount of universities the city has. Prague scored particularly highly in the low cost of rent and of beer.
The Unipetrol oil refinery in the North Bohemian city of Litvínov has been
receiving oil from the country‘s reserves since Wednesday, the head of
the Administration of State Material Reserves Pavel Švagr told journalists
on Thursday. The Czech News Agency reports that more than 100,000 tons of
oil are set to be released from the reserves for this purpose.
The activation of the national oil reserves came after the crude oil delivered via the Druzhba pipeline was contaminated with high levels of organic chloride and supplies via this route were halted last Thursday.
Shortly after the news was released, Radio Free Europe reported that "clean" Russian oil shipments have begun to arrive in Belarus via the Druzhba pipeline and that deliveries via the pipeline could reach 60 to 70 percent of capacity by May 10.