The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, says Social Democrat Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s call on him to dismiss ANO’s Andrej Babiš as finance minister would be in contravention of the coalition agreement. He said the agreement would need to be annulled for him to take such a step. Mr. Zeman’s spokesman issued a statement to that effect after the president hosted Mr Babiš at Prague Castle on Monday. The president also said that the prime minister cannot set a term by which he must dismiss a minister. Some constitutional experts say the head of state must remove a minister without delay in such circumstances. PM Sobotka has accused Mr. Zeman and Mr. Babiš of working in tandem.
Around 90,000 people attended a four-day Festival of Freedom in Plzeň marking the liberation of the city by US troops at the end of World War II, organisers said on Monday. The event reached a climax on Sunday when a convoy hundreds of vintage military vehicles paraded through the West Bohemian city. General George Patton’s Third US Army liberated Plzeň on May 5, 1945. Red Army troops reached Prague several days later.
Events have been held in the Czech Republic marking the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Defence Minister Martin Stropnický, Chief of the General Staff Josef Bečvář and other senior Czech Army figures attended the main event at Prague’s Vítkov National Memorial on Monday morning. In the afternoon President Miloš Zeman named new generals, including the country’s first woman general, Lenka Šmerdová. Ceremonies marking the anniversary of VE day were also held at Prague’s Klárov and in Brno, while several days of celebrations in Plzeň reached a climax.
Just days after corruption charges were filed against Czech Football Association chief Miroslav Pelta, the FA has said it will go ahead with a general meeting scheduled for June 2. Delegates will decide on the day whether to hold an election for the post of FA chairman, officials said. Mr. Pelta, who has been remanded in custody, is as yet the only declared nominee. Deputy FA chairman Roman Berbr, one of the most powerful figures in Czech soccer, said on Monday more people would announce their candidacy before Friday’s deadline and did not rule out standing himself.
ANO chief Andrej Babiš says a former Mladá fronta Dnes journalist heard speaking to him on leaked recordings was an agent who had infiltrated his MAFRA media organisation. Speaking to Czech Television, the finance minister and Agrofert owner said he had been the victim of a conspiracy. He said he had no proof but there were indications that Ministry of the Interior (under Minister Milan Chovanec of Social Democrats) was connected to the affair. On Monday a third recording featuring journalist Marek Přibil was placed online anonymously; it purports to capture him offering Mr. Babiš information from police files and wiretaps. The ANO leader has denied ordering reports damaging to his opponents in MfD, which is now in a trust, and questioned why the leaks were coming out now, during a government crisis.
The Czech Republic’s retirement homes and other social care facilities are lacking thousands of employees, according to the Association of Social Services Providers. It says low pay in the sector makes it difficult for organisations to find and hang on to staff. This is putting such services at risk and may preclude people finding places in care facilities. Many Czech care workers seek employment in neighbouring Germany and Austria, where even basic language skills can suffice, the association said.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, has welcomed the victory of Emmaneul Macron in France’s presidential election on Sunday. Mr. Sobotka said he was glad that voters had decided for a France that would be a proud and strong part of the European Union and against populism, nationalism and isolation. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said the French had not just voted for a president but for European future. President Zeman’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček said Miloš Zeman would respond to the news on Monday.
Czech Television is taking part in the four country cooperation to make a two-part series about the life of empress Maria Theresa. The 300th anniversary of the birth of the sole empress of the Habsburg empire is being marked this month. The co-production between public service broadcasters from Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary features actors from all four countries. Czech actor Vojtěch Kotek is play the empress’ husband. The various nationalities speak in their own native language with the final result dubbed. Some of the scenes for the series are being shot at Czech stately homes.