News EU sanctions against Russia cause rift in Czech governing coalition
The new wave of EU sanctions against Russia for its involvement in the Ukraine crisis, has caused a rift in the Czech ruling coalition. Attending the EU talks in Brussels, the Czech prime minister made it clear that he did not believe sanctions would prove effective and said his country reserved the right to reject tightened sanctions if they were to cause disproportionately high economic losses. He promptly came under fire from the leader of the coalition Christian Democrats who compared this stand to the Munich Agreement of 1938. The prime minister has now received backing from Andrej Babiš, the leader of the second strongest party in the ruling coalition, who said he too could see little point in enforcing new sanctions against Russia when the last ones had failed to have any effect. He said the way forward appeared to be through political negotiations and noted that the Czech Republic could show its solidarity with Ukraine by more practical means such as sending aid or dispatching a field hospital there. The cabinet is to debate the issue at its session on Wednesday.
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The world premiere of the digitally restored copy of Baron Prášil or The Fabulous Baron Munchhausen, a legendary film by Karel Zeman, will launch this year’s edition of the Zlín International Film Festival, which gets underway on Friday. The 1961 film, combining live action with various forms of animation, was restored within a project called We are cleaning up the world of fantasy, which aims to digitally restore three films by the visionary filmmaker. The new version of The Fabulous Baron Munchhausen will be screened for the first time on Thursday in Prague’s Lucerna cinema.
The Czech Republic’s Tomáš Berdych has reached the third round at the French Open in Paris. The seventh seed advanced after beating Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6:1, 2:6, 6:2 a 6:4 on Thursday. Berdych will face Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay in the next round.
The Senate has rejected a lower house bill which would give the Supreme Audit Office, the country’s spending watchdog, greater powers. Following a four-hour long debate, 42 out of 60 senators present voted against the proposed amendment, under which the office would in future be able to look into the financing of local and regional administrations, state funds, health insurance companies, public schools and companies in which the state is a majority shareholder. Up till now the Supreme Audit Office could only check on state property management and state budget expenditures.
The British-US-French coproduction film Anthropoid which tells the story of the 1942 assassination of acting Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich in Czechoslovakia, will open this year’s edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, which gets under way on June 1, the festival’s spokeswoman Uljana Donátová announced on Thursday. The screening of Anthropoid will be attended by the director Sean Ellis and by the leading actors Jamie Dornan, Charlotte Le Bon, Aňa Geislerová and Toby Jones. The historical drama was shot in the Czech Republic over the last summer.
A Finance Ministry proposal for next year’s budget, which is to be debated by the government on Monday, sets next year’s deficit at 48.5 billion crowns, the Czech News Agency reported on Thursday. For 2018 the ministry envisages a deficit of 38.5 billion and for 2019 18.5 billion. The Finance Ministry is willing to increase the deficit in case of higher spending by ministries and other state authorities. Under the agreement between coalition parties, the deficit could reach up to 60 billion crowns next year and 50 billion crowns in 2018.
Finance minister and leader of the ANO party Andrej Babiš remains the most popular politician in the Czech Republic, according to the results of a poll conducted by the STEM agency in May. Mr. Babiš currently enjoys the trust of 60 percent. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka came second with a rating of 53 percent, closely followed by Defence Minister Martin Stropnický and Interior Minister Milan Chovanec. The Czech finance minister and businessman has topped the popularity ladder since January 2014.
Temperatures will again reach summer levels this weekend, with daytime highs expected to climb up to 29 degrees Celsius, but the warm weather will also bring rain. Meteorologists have issued storm warnings for most parts of the country for the weekend, predicting torrential rain in places. The weather is going to get cooler at the start of next week.
News server Aktualne.cz has reported on the first prison sentence in the world of Czech football, describing it as a landmark decision. The sentence was handed out by a Strakonice court to former Dukla Prague player Michal Kánik on Wednesday for bribing players and referees to fix results in top Czech and even junior matches so that sure bets could be placed on them. Kánik said after the sentence that he would appeal to the regional court. Kánik was last year also given a conditional sentence for his part in a 1.0 million crown tax fraud when he held a post at the local Strakonice football club.
Czech football league champions Viktoria Plzeň have called a press conference Thursday in which they are expected to unveil Roman Pivarník as the club’s new manager. Czech media reports say Plzeň have agreed terms with Pivarník’s current club, Bohemians 1905, for him the end his contract early. The league champions were forced to seek a new manager after Karel Krejčí stepped down in a surprise move last week. He said he wanted to focus on working as assistant manager of the national squad. Pivarník previously managed Sigma Olomouc and Jihlava.
Czech president says Beijing, Moscow trips a success, says visits should target countries with presidential regimes
Czech head of state, president Miloš Zeman, defended his decision to visit China and Russia last year for commemorations of the end of WWII. Zeman said the EU had recommended that visits to China by EU heads of state not be made. He said the visits to both countries were aimed at maintaining links and said he regarded them as successful. Zeman called again in relation to Russia for sanctions against the country to be dropped as soon as possible. Zeman, speaking at a conference in Prague entitled “The Czech Republic is not for everyone,” said presidential visits should be made in preference to countries with presidential regimes because that ensured a greater effect. In spite of the conference’s title, Zeman referred only in passing to immigration issues.