Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has criticised the
decision of the Prague authorities to rename the city square in front of
Russia’s embassy in honour of slain Russian opposition figure Boris
The square was renamed on February 27, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of Nemtsov’s killing, while a nearby pathway was named after investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, shot to death in 2006.
Mrs Zakharova has called the act absurd and inexplicable, adding that similar steps, which try to influence domestic policy in other countries, infringe on international law.
The city of Prague on Thursday bowed to the courage of Russian pro-democracy activists who laid down their lives in the quest for human rights. The square Pod kastany where the Russian Embassy stands was officially renamed after the slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and a nearby promenade was named after investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya shot to death in 2006. Among those watching the ceremony was Nemtsov’s daughter Zhanna and one of Politkovskaya’s former colleagues.
In the previous episodes of the Czechs in Brexit Britain series, we explored what worries the local Czech community about Brexit and the new business ties the country is trying to establish with Britain. In our closing feature we will look closer at the Czech community itself and some of the clubs and institutions that they have built in the United Kingdom.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček says all constitutional
officials should agree on the country’s official stance towards a January
letter from the Chinese Embassy which warned Prague China could harm Czech
business interests if a planned Senate trip to Taiwan went ahead.
After meeting with Senate Chair Miloš Vystrčil on Wednesday, Mr Petříček said that he will prepare a draft statement which will then be discussed with other constitutional officials in March. Thus far, some officials have condemned the letter, while others have chosen not to comment.
China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland one day and therefore protested vehemently in the letter to what it saw as an “extremely inappropriate” trip that “carries the signs of an official visit”.
The State Security Council has recommended that Czech citizens not visit
the Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto because of an outbreak of
Covid-19. People should also weigh up going anywhere abroad at the present
time in view of the coronavirus epidemic, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said
after a meeting of the council on Tuesday evening. Its members did not
consider curtailing large arts or sports events in the Czech Republic.
The prime minister said any Czechs who returned from abroad and started feeling symptoms consistent with those caused by Covid-19 should immediately contact a doctor, ideally by telephone.
The minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, called on Czechs planning to travel to other countries to register with his government department through a voluntary system on its website.
Thirty years ago on this day, February 21, then Czechoslovak president Václav Havel addressed a specially convened joint session of the United States Congress. Only a few months earlier, Havel was in prison. Paradoxically, he devoted much of his historic speech that day appealing to Washington to help – not Czechoslovakia but the Soviet Union. Doing so, he said, was the best hope to ensure newfound freedoms.
Britain is currently the Czech Republic’s fifth largest export market and a successful conclusion to post-Brexit trade negotiations is therefore a top priority for Czech diplomats. However, Czechs are also trying to tap in to new business opportunities in the UK and the British government’s promises to invest in its northern infrastructure and hospitals have been identified as potential new avenues for exports.
The US ambassador to Prague, Stephen King, has warned Czech deputies
against introducing a government-proposed digital tax of seven percent,
which would primarily hurt large US companies.
In a letter to the lower house, cited by the daily Hospodarske noviny, Mr. King says a 7 percent tax is discriminatory and warns that the US could effect retaliatory measures. He says it would be wiser to wait for broader regulation agreed on by the OECD.
Czech exporters also recently urged Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to reconsider the government’s proposal to introduce a digital tax. They said they feared damage to Czech-American business relations and possible retaliatory measures from the US administration.
The proposed digital tax of seven percent would apply to Internet companies in the Czech Republic with a global turnover of over 750 million euros (about 19 billion crowns), and domestic sales of at least 100 million crowns per year for taxable services.
It would hit companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple. The tax, which should come into effect later this year, is expected to bring about five billion crowns a year to state coffers.
The Czech Republic is to send an army plane with over 7 tons of
humanitarian aid to China to help tackle the coronavirus epidemic in the
country, Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček told journalists on Monday.
According to the Foreign Ministry, which is coordinating the effort, the
aid should be sent at the end of the month.
It will be the second big aid consignment from this country. On Monday the Czech Republic sent 4.5 tonnes of medical equipment,including facemasks, respirators, latex gloves, disinfectants and protective medical uniforms to Vienna where it will be put on a plane to China together with aid from other EU member states.
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, may attend events in Plzeň in May
marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Czech city at the end
of World War II, the Czech News Agency said. The American foreign policy
chief has received an invitation from the Czech side and confirmation is
now being awaited, it reported.
The Czech News Agency said Mr. Pompeo had discussed a possible visit to the Czech Republic with the country’s ministry of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, at the ongoing Munich Security Conference.
Events marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Plzeň will culminate on May 6, when US forces led by General George S. Patton entered the city in 1945.
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A mask-tree as a form of solidarity
Coronavirus: Czech scientists focus on role proteins play in spreading COVID-19