A two-day election conference of the ruling Social Democratic Party ended in the Moravian metropolis of Brno on Saturday with party leader Bohuslav Sobotka declaring that the party was united and ready to give a good showing in the autumn parliamentary elections. On Friday party leader Bohuslav Sobotka was re-elected to the top post receiving support from 67 percent of delegates. He ran unchallenged. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec was confirmed in the post of first deputy. Among the foreign guests at the conference were Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern.
President Zeman’s supporters have started collecting signatures in support of his candidacy for president. Although the Social Democratic Party has yet to vote on whether to field or back a candidate, Zeman’s supporters started gathering signatures in his support in Brno where the party held its election conference over the weekend. The Bloc against Islam is reported to have collected a thousand signatures in Prague and Zeman’s long-term supporter Jana Volfová has collected 1,500. As an independent candidate Zeman needs to collect 50,000 signatures to enter the race.
Chinese conceptual artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, 59, will return to the Czech Republic in March after a year to display his new artifact created exclusively for the National Gallery in Prague. The artist’s biggest sculpture ever reflects his concern about the refugee crisis. Called "Law of the Journey", the 70-metre-long (230-foot-long) inflatable boat with 258 oversize refugee figures will be shown from March 16 through the rest of the year.
Milos Zeman will be a strong contestant in the 2018 presidential elections but not a certain winner, political observers say in response to the president’s bid for re-election. Commentaries in Saturdays papers predict that the presidential elections will be a race of “everyone against Zeman”. They say that a successful rival would have to match Zeman's rhetoric skills and present better solutions to the country’s problems that those proffered by the present head of state.
A special parliamentary committee set up to oversee the activities of the country’s military intelligence service has concluded that the service was not engaged in surveilling Interior Minister Milan Chovanec and dismissed speculation regarding a war between the country’s police and military intelligence. The committee launched an investigation into the case after a military intelligence officer was arrested in Prague last week while taking photographs in the vicinity of a villa belonging to the Ministry of the Interior and used by Mr Chovanec. The head of military intelligence, Jan Beroun, strongly denied speculation about his agents surveilling the house and the committee confirmed that the agent had been surveilling a different target.
Czech finance minister and ANO party leader Andrej Babiš has released the results of the audits of his past incomes. The minister and billionaire businessman ordered the audits in reaction to media speculations about a suspicious origin of his property. The auditing firms confirmed his earlier statement that his overall income between the years 1996 and 2015 amounted to 2.4 billion crowns. The server Echo24 has reported that the amount Mr. Babiš spent purchasing bonds in his company Agrofert a few years ago was considerably less than his declared income at the time. In reaction to the allegations, Babiš said that apart from the above incomes that were subject to taxation, he had untaxed incomes of 650 million crowns from the sale of firms and shares, as well as from previous businesses.
A meeting of the Permanent Control Committee on Military Intelligence will take place in the Lower House on Friday over the case of a military intelligence officer who was allegedly surveilling the villa of interior minister Milan Chovanec. The news website SeznamZpravy.cz reported on Wednesday that a military intelligence officer was arrested in Prague last week while taking photographs in the vicinity of a villa belonging to the Ministry of the Interior and used by Mr Chovanec. The head of military intelligence, Jan Beroun, has strongly denied speculation about his agents surveilling the house.
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