A district court for Prague 1 on Friday ruled that deputy education minister Simona Kratochvílová, charged for allegedly manipulating subsidies programs for personal gain, will remain in custody. The court also decided the same applies to the head of the Czech Football Association, Miroslav Pelta, also charged. The website seznam.cz, citing police records, suggested Ms Kratochvílová and Mr Pelta had decided on subsidies to benefit themselves or associates. Police raided offices of the Czech Football Association this week.
Czech leaders marked the 72nd anniversary of the Prague Uprising at the Czech Radio building on Friday, a focal point of the uprising in which Czechs took up arms against the Nazis. The radio station itself became a beacon for resistance when the call went out in a broadcast for the rising to start and for citizens to come and help defend the radio building against German attempts to retake it. Among those attending Friday’s memorial event were the heads of both Czech house of parliament, Milan Štěch and Jan Hamáček, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, and Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová.
Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, at the centre of a government crisis over unexplained finances, has said that leaked recordings in which he can be heard speaking to a journalist from the daily Mladá fronta Dnes about sensitive information on a number of politicians, including the prime minister, has said the material was manipulated; he also called it a provocation on the part of the journalist. Speaking in Plzeň on Friday, he said he felt he had been the subject of surveillance for years and blamed the interior minister, Milan Chovanec, charging there was a coordinated campaign to “destroy him”. The recordings appeared online this week; the ANO leader has filed a criminal complaint over the matter.
Expat voters who plan to cast their ballot from abroad in the upcoming parliamentary election will vote among candidates in the region of Central Bohemia. The region, one of 14 in the Czech Republic, was drawn on Friday. The same region was on the ballot for expatriates last time Czechs went to the polls to elect a new government, in 2013. Czechs abroad looking to vote will have until September 10th to register. In the last election, 14,000 expats registered; three-quarters of those ended up casting their vote.
Culture Minister Daniel Herman has said that the Terezín Memorial should remind visitors not only of the horrors of the Holocaust but also serve as a warning. The minister made the statement while attending a ceremony marking 70 years since the memorial’s completion two years after the end of World War II. The minister reminded attendees that some survivors who had been held in the Terezín ghetto or been held in the Gestapo prison at the Small Fortress were still living that it was the duty of society to cultivate the memory of what had happened at the site into the future. The minister said that his own grandmother had been one of those imprisoned at the Gestapo prison at the Small Fortress during World War II. The Nazis used Terezin as a ghetto and camp for the internment of Jews who were later sent on to death camps such as Auschwitz.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has reversed his decision to resign following a meeting on Thursday with the head of state, Miloš Zeman, and would now just seek the sacking of ANO leader and finance minister Andrej Babiš. The prime minister’s original aim was for the entire cabinet to step down as a means of removing Mr Babiš from his post over continuing corruption allegations and unexplained financial dealings. But, Mr Sobotka said he had changed his mind after the president indicated he would treat the resignation as the prime minister’s own, a move which would have left Mr Babiš in place. Such a response, the prime minister made clear would render his effort meaningless. The ANO party of Andrej Babiš said earlier it would insist on the leader remaining as finance minister, a view echoed by President Zeman in a TV interview on Thursday.
The head of the opposition party TOP 09 Miroslav Kalousek weighed in on the government crisis on Friday, praising the prime minister for reversing his decision on the resignation of the government after it became apparent the move would not facilitate the removal of Finance Minister Andrej Babiš from the post. He added that Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, the leader of the Social Democrats, had TOP 09’s support in the effort to sack the minister. Mr Sobotka changed tack on Friday and said that he would seek Mr Babis’ sacking alone, a move which would have to be sanctioned by President Miloš Zeman. That is seen as unlikely as Mr Zeman has come out in Babiš’ defence.
The ANO party of Andrej Babiš, who is at the centre of the ongoing government crisis, has said it will insist on Babiš remaining in the post of finance minister. The second strongest party in government said it had no ambition to fill the post of prime minister and was ready to accept either Foreign Minister Zaorálek as the new head of government or Pavel Bělobrádek, the head of the Christian Democratic Party. ANO said talks about the old-new new coalition government could only begin after Prime Minister Sobotka handed in his resignation.
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