The Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, visited Ukraine on Tuesday. After
attending the launch of a Czech-Ukrainian enterprise forum, Mr. Babiš held
talks with the country’s prime minister, Oleksiy Honcharuk. Following
both engagements in Kiev he reiterated the Czech Republic’s support for
the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.
Mr. Babiš later told Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, that the Czech Republic condemned Russian aggression in the east of the country and Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. The Czech leader also invited Mr. Zelensky to a meeting of the Visegrad Four in Prague.
Another mass demonstration against Prime Minister Andrej Babiš took place on Prague’s Letná plain on Saturday. Police estimate that at least 200,000 people gathered on the plain to voice their feelings. The organisers of the event, Million Moments for Democracy, called on the prime minister to either end his alleged control of Agrofert, the company he founded, and fire his justice minister Marie Benešová, or resign himself. Unless he does so by the end of the year, they threatened to continue with the demonstrations.
Protesters gathered on Prague's Letná plain to demonstrate against
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Minister of Justice Marie Benešová,
calling on both to resign. According to the organisers there were as many
as 300,000 people in attendance. The two-hour demonstration, which began at
2pm on Saturday, was the latest in a series of protests that have been
going on since April this year. Organisers Million Moments for Democracy
set out new demands on the prime minister, while also calling on opposition
parties to find a way to increase their strength and vowing to organise new
demonstrations if the prime minister interferes in the country's
justice system, media, receives a pardon from the president, or if his
alleged conflict of interests results in a withdrawal of EU subsidies.
Protestors suspect the Czech prime minister has been seeking to influence a criminal investigation into suspicions he committed EU subsidy fraud. However, the prime minister denies this and earlier this year, the criminal proceedings against him regarding an alleged case of subsidy fraud related to the Stork's Nest farm were halted by the state attorney investigating the case.
Hundreds of Czechs living abroad joined today's protest on
Prague's Letná plain from remote locations in Europe, America and
Asia. They called on Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to get rid of his control
of Agrofert, the company he founded, which they believe he still has
influence on. Alternatively, they believe he should resign.
Mr. Babiš relinquished his stake in the company in 2017, but a preliminary EU audit suggested he still controls his company via trust funds.
The EU has given final approval to a proposal that will allow member states
that have a problem with carousel tax fraud to apply a generalized reversal
of VAT liability.
This is something Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has fought for for four and a half years on the argument that use of reverse charge could save the country around 80 billion crowns lost every year in unpaid VAT.
However Finance Minister Alena Schillerová said on Friday that it will take almost a year to get the respective legislation in place so that the ministry can introduce a generalized reversal of VAT liability in this country.
The EU member states who choose to do so will be able to use the generalized reverse charge mechanism only for domestic supplies of goods and services above a threshold of 17, 500 euros (around 450,000 crowns) per transaction and only up until June 30, 2022, when the outcome of the exemption will be reviewed.
Government delegations from 17 EU member states, known as the “Friends of Cohesion”, are meeting in Prague on Tuesday to discuss a united position on the EU’s budget for 2021–2027. They have issued a joint declaration which states that the future EU budget should include the same level of cohesion funding, but states should be given more flexibility in how they use it.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has said the planned teachers’ strike
over salaries on Wednesday is unwarranted and the government will not
respond to it.
Teacher unions last week announced plans for the all-day strike after their demands for a 10 percent salary increase was not met. Babiš and Minister of Education Robert Plaga (ANO) had offered an 8 percent raise.
Over 6,000 schools, nearly 60 percent, have so far confirmed that they will take part in the strike on Wednesday, the unions said, while others will display a logo signifying their support.
The average monthly gross salary of a teacher was around 36,200 crowns in the first quarter of 2019 while the national average stood at 32,466 crowns. The unions have been pushing to raise teachers' salaries to 130 percent of the average.
As the Czech nation celebrates 30 years of freedom and democracy the words of a leading Communist Party official have caused a public outcry. In an interview for Czech Radio, the party’s deputy chair, Stanislav Grospič argued that the 1968 Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia was not an invasion and that the people killed had died mostly in road accidents. While his words evoked widespread condemnation, the Communist Party has not distanced itself from the statement.
The richest Czech, Petr Kellner, is taking over the country’s most popular TV station, Nova. The purchase of Nova operator CME by Kellner’s PPF Group will also give it control of a number of other channels in the region. However, critics say the move is politically motivated and have warned of a new danger to press freedom. Among those voices is Josef Šlerka, director of the Foundation for Independent Journalism.