The Czech intelligence services say there is no increased danger of a terrorist attack at the present time. The country’s intelligence group said on Tuesday afternoon that the present first degree of terrorist threat would remain in place. However, the police have stepped up security in Prague and other major cities in reaction to Monday’s attack in Berlin. Armed patrols have been monitoring the capital’s Old Town Square and Metro stations since Tuesday morning. After a meeting with Interior Minister Milan Chovanec on Tuesday the prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said police would have a massive presence at densely crowded spots at the close of the year and that hundreds of extra officers would be deployed.
President Miloš Zeman says terrorist attacks are getting closer to the Czech Republic and it is clear that the security measures in place at Prague Castle are important. Mr. Zeman made the comment the day after an attack in Berlin in neighbouring Germany left 12 people dead. Communicating via his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček, he said he was against any refugees on the territory of the Czech Republic. The president said Monday’s horrific attack on the German capital had confirmed his longstanding warning of the risk of terror attacks in Europe.
Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has reacted coolly to a call from mining company OKD, which has been in bankruptcy since May, for state aid for the Paskov mine in North Moravia. In a letter to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, OKD said it needed CZK 723 million to cover severance payments for employees and to wind down the mine. Mr. Babiš said his ministry did not envisage giving the company another state loan on top of the CZK 700 million it received earlier this year. The Paskov mine is due to close at the end of March.
The Czech tennis star Petra Kvitová was hurt during an attack at her apartment in the Moravian town of Prostějov on Tuesday morning. It has been reported that the injury may include a cut to the tendons in her left hand, the one she plays with. A local newspaper quoted a source close to the player as saying that Kvitová had fought back against the attacker and in so doing had had her hands and all her fingers cut and would likely need surgery. Her spokesman Karel Tejkal told Czech Radio that it appeared to be a random rather than planned crime. He said the two-time Wimbledon winner, who is 26, was receiving medical care. Police said the assailant had got into Kvitová’s home by claiming to be a boiler inspector and had fled after the attack. They said a robbery had occurred.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned the murder of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrej Karlov, saying the attack is a grave violation of the inviolability of diplomatic representatives and an assault on the rules of international law governing the work of diplomats worldwide. The attack is all the more despicable in light of the fact that the mission of diplomats is to seek understanding through peaceful negotiations, the ministry said in a statement published on its web page. The ministry said the Czech Republic would continue to support the war on terror in every way possible.
Czech political leaders have offered condolences to Germany in the wake of Monday’s terrorist attack on a Christmas market in central Berlin which killed twelve people and injured dozens of others. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka expressed solidarity with the German government and said his thoughts were with the families of the victims. Culture Minister Daniel Herman also condemned the attack, stressing that the Christmas message of peace and hope must not be overshadowed by evil. Trade Minister Jan Mladek echoed that sentiment, saying that violence against civilians must not become the norm in Europe. The Czech Republic has beefed up security at its Christmas markets and other frequented places in the wake of the attack.
Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec has said security will be beefed up at public places with a high concentration of people in the wake of what is feared to have been a terrorist attack at a Christmas market in Berlin. The minister said he had no knowledge so far of Czechs having been hurt in the attack on Breitscheidplatz Square in west Berlin where a lorry ploughed through a crowd of shoppers killing 12 people and injuring forty-eight. The driver has reportedly been apprehended, his accomplice did not survive the attack. Emergency security consultations are to take place in Prague on Tuesday morning to assess the situation and consider the need for special measures.
The Czech government has decided to sue the European Commission over the new denaturated alcohol guidelines that are to come into effect as of August 2017. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the government’s decision was a last-ditch effort to prevent their introduction. He said the new guidelines create space for tax-evasion and need to be revised. According to the new EU guidelines denaturated alcohol would be exempt from excise duties.
Prague’s Supreme Court has overruled the verdict in the David Rath corruption case on the grounds that the wiretapping used as key evidence in the case was illegal. The judge ruled that the court order licensing the wiretapping was not adequately justified. The case will now go back to the city’s Regional Court to be heard again. The verdict was made public earlier but not the reason for the court’s decision. David Rath, a former minister and regional governor, was last year found guilty of bribe-taking and sentenced to 8.5 years in prison and the forfeiture of CZK 20 million in property.
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