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02-01-2018 15:01 | Ian Willoughby

Babiš: Agrofert taking OLAF to European court over Stork’s Nest investigation

The Czech company Agrofert has lodged a complaint with the European Union ombudsman and at the EU’s Court of Justice over the handling of an investigation into the provision of EU subsidies to the Stork’s Nest complex by the European Anti-Fraud Office, known as OLAF. The information was shared by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, the former owner of Agrofert, on Tuesday.

Mr. Babiš has been accused of fraud in connection with the subsidies but denies any wrongdoing. He said he had not read the OLAF report on the matter and was not minded to do so.

The ANO leader was speaking after a traditional New Year’s lunch with President Miloš Zeman at the head of state’s retreat at Lány near Prague.

Public broadcasters start running presidential election slots

The public broadcasters Czech Radio and Czech Television have begun airing campaign slots from candidates running in next week’s presidential elections. The incumbent, Miloš Zeman, has not sent a clip so Czech Television is going to fill the time allotted to him with photos and classical music.

His spokesperson said Mr. Zeman was not actively participating as this would represent a “pre-election campaign”, which the head of state is not leading.

The first round of the presidential elections takes place on Friday and Saturday next week. If none of the nine candidates receives more than 50 percent, the front two will go through to a run-off two weeks later.

Horáček takes Communist MP Ondráček to court over StB claim

Presidential candidate Michal Horáček is taking Communist MP Zdeněk Ondráček to court for slander after the latter accused him of being a collaborator with the StB. In an interview Mr. Ondráček said that according to available information Mr. Horáček had collaborated with the communist-era secret police.

However, a lawyer for Mr. Horáček said the available information referred to seemed to the StB’s own file on the presidential candidate.

Mr. Horáček recently objected to moves to elect Mr. Ondráček as head of the lower house committee overseeing the body that monitors the police in view of his past. The Communist Party deputy took part in a crackdown on protestors before the Velvet Revolution as a member of a riot squad.

Prague public transport reduced due to lack of drivers

Prague’s public transport system is to operate on a reduced “summer” schedule over the next couple of weeks due to a lack of drivers, the news site iRozhlas.cz reported on Tuesday. Intervals between tram, bus and Metro services are to be increased by around two minutes.

Regular services will be resumed on January 15 when drivers who earned time off over the holiday season return to work.

Prague’s transport authority launched a recruitment campaign last year, complaining of a lack of drivers. Services in towns near the capital are facing the same problem.

Czech Post to raise cost of sending letters

Czech Post is putting its prices up. From next month the cost of sending an ordinary letter will jump from CZK 16 to CZK 19, while registered letters will go up by CZK 6 to CZK 44. Packages weighing over two kilogrammes will not increase in price.

Czech Post, which has over 3,000 branches, says it has to increase the prices in order to ensure high-quality and accessible postal services.

The company has seen its delivery numbers fall. It refuses to release absolute numbers but says it recorded an 11-percent decline in the number of pieces of mail it delivered in 2016.

Veselý to train in javelin alone after split from Železný

The Czech athlete Vítězslav Veselý has split from his javelin coach, Jan Železný. The 2013 world champion issued a statement on Tuesday thanking Železný and outlining his plans to train himself in future.

Veselý said bearing full responsibility for his own training had always attracted him and would be a new challenge. The 34-year-old plans to take part in this year’s European Athletics Championships in Berlin.

Weather forecast

It should be largely overcast with the chance of rain or snow in the Czech Republic on Wednesday. Daytime highs of up to 6 degrees Celsius are expected. Temperatures should remain at similar levels for the rest of the week.