Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has urged Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, who has repeatedly come under fire for conflict of interests, to give up his business activities and concentrate solely on politics. Mr. Sobotka made the statement just hours after CDU MEP and member of the European Parliament's budget control committee, Ingeborg Grassle, brought up the subject at a press conference in Prague saying that Mr. Babiš as finance minister represented such a danger of conflicts of interests that in her opinion cooperation with Prague would be difficult. Mr. Babiš, whose firms have received 2.6 million euros from European funds, said he fully adhered to the conflict of interests law and was not actively involved in running a business but merely owned the Agrofert company.
ANO leader and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš is the most trusted politician in the Czech Republic, according to the results of a March poll conducted by the STEM agency. Mr. Babiš got a 62 percent trust rating, followed by the Social Democrat Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Jiří Dienstbier who got 57 percent support and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka who received 56 percent.
Brno’s Masaryk University has offered a position to Russian professor Andrej Zubov, who was sacked from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations after criticizing Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Prof. Zubov was dismissed from the institute where he’d worked since 2001 after comparing Moscow's actions in Ukraine with Nazi Germany's annexation of Austria in 1938. The rector of Brno University said prof. Zubov had expressed appreciation of the offer and promised to visit the school in the near future to discuss the possibilities.
Czech women who are victims of domestic violence frequently fail to report their experience to the police, the daily Lidové noviny writes in its Friday edition. The paper cites an international survey by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency which indicates that Czech women’s mistrust of the police in this respect is higher than in any other EU member state with the exception of Cyprus. According to the survey one in three Czech women were physically or sexually assaulted at least once in their life, which is close to the EU average. However, while on average 19 percent of European women report the violence to the police, in the Czech Republic the figure is less than half that number. NGOs which help victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse say the police often downplay such incidents.
The Constitutional Court has issued a precedent ruling on a case in which an aggressive driver killed a pedestrian and seriously injured another after overtaking a standing vehicle at a zebra crossing and failing to give right of way himself. According to the news site aktualne.cz the court has urged lower instance courts to issue tougher verdicts on road pirates who do not respect pedestrians’ right of way at zebra crossings saying the offense merits between 2 and 8 years in prison in the event of grievous bodily harm or death. This type of offense is common in the Czech Republic and a frequent cause of accidents involving pedestrians.
The center-right party of Mayors and Independents (STAN) on Friday elected a new leadership at its party conference in Prague. The new party leader is to be the governor of Liberec Martin Půta who was elected by an overwhelming majority. The party is also discussing its future role and strategy on the Czech political scene. The new leader is in favour of looser cooperation with the center-right TOP 09 which was STANS close partner in the past running in elections on a joint ballot. The party has strongly promoted greater powers for municipalities.
Centre-right parties TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats (ODS) are preparing for an electoral pact for Senate elections due to take place in October, according to leaders of both parties cited in Friday’s edition of the business daily Hospodářské Noviny. TOP 09 deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek said that talks were also taking place on a regional level with a view that one of the parties would step aside and give the other a free run for selected Senate seats. A third of the Senate seats will be up for grabs with the overwhelming majority currently occupied by the Social Democrats, which at the moment has a majority in the upper chamber.
Police in southern Slovakia are reported to have arrested a Czech national with 1.5 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine in his possession. Its street value is estimated at 6.8 billion crowns. The police reportedly also arrested a Slovak who was to have received the delivery. Both men are in detention in Slovakia and face between 15 and 20 years in jail. Smuggling of home-made crystal methamphetamine from the Czech Republic to neighbouring Germany and Slovakia have become a serious problem in recent years.
A 42-year-old miner died in a cave in at the Karvina mine in the eastern part of the country, a spokesman for the company reported. The accident happened 1000 meters below ground where the miner was working alone at the time. A team of experts are investigating the cause of the cave-in.
The Prague metro management has announced that it plans to close the A line of the Prague metro for extensive maintenance work over the Easter holidays. The entire stretch of the A-line will be closed from Friday afternoon till Tuesday morning of April 22nd. Replacement trams and busses will be in operation over the long weekend.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych has won through to the last four of the ATP Miami Masters tournament by beating Ukraine’s Alexandr Dologgopolov in two sets: 6:4, 7:6. He will now face Spaniard Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals. Thursday’s win should push Berdych into fifth place on the ATP rankings when they are announced on Monday.