ANO leader Andrej Babiš has defended the choice of Alena Schillerová as his successor in the post of finance minister should he be recalled from office. Babiš said that Schillerova, who is presently his deputy, is a skilled professional who would ensure a smooth transition and her nomination would mean a quick end to the government crisis. The choice of Schillerová for the post of finance minister was criticized by Foreign Minister Zaorálek of the Social Democrats who expressed doubts as to whether she would take an impartial stand and not try to influence the Financial Administration in conducting an investigation into Andrej Babiš’s finances.
An elderly woman in the town of Zlin sustained serious injuries after approaching an elephant’s enclosure in the circus grounds and attempting to feed one of the animals. The elephant picked her up by the strap of her handbag and carried her up over the fence into the enclosure. The strap broke before the animal put her down and the sixty-eight year old woman fell from a height of about two meters. She was reportedly taken to Zlin hospital with serious injuries. Police are investigating the incident which happened at a time when the outer fence to the circus grounds was being fixed and no measures were taken to prevent people walking through.
Czech MEPs are trying to get a planned debate on possible abuse of the media in the Czech Republic off the European Parliament’s agenda. The debate, initiated by the leadership of the EP’s strongest faction, the European People’s Party, is planned for June 1st. In a letter to Manfred Weber, chairman of the European People's Party group, Michaela Šojdrová of the Christian Democrats and five other Czech MEPs argue that although the situation gives cause for concern, the Czech Republic is addressing the problem and will resolve it. Czech MEPs have slammed the Czech finance minister, Andrej Babis for putting the country in this shameful position.
The Social Democratic Party has rejected President Zeman’s proffered solutions to the government crisis insisting that the head of state should act in line with the constitution and dismiss Finance Minister Andrej Babis without further delay. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that the president’s suggestion that both the prime minister and finance minister should leave the cabinet or that there should be early elections merely masked the core of the problem which was the finance minister’s suspect finances and attempts to influence the media against political rivals. We expect the head of state to abide by the constitution and dismiss Andrej Babis, the prime minister said.
Czech President Milos Zeman met for talks with his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Friday. The Czech president is on a six-day state visit to China and is accompanied by a large business delegation. Mr. Zeman said he had come to China to support the new Silk Road project and expressed the hope that it would not bypass the Czech Republic. The two heads of state signed a number of memorandums on economic cooperation. During his visit to China Mr. Zeman is also due to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and address a conference on the Silk Road project. Several ministers who were to have been part of the delegation are not present due to the political crisis in the Czech Republic.
Protetsts against president Miloš Zeman and finance minister Andrej Babiš continued in Prague on Thursday evening with a demonstration outside Prague Castle. Several hundred people gathered on Hradčanské náměstí, signing a petition calling for the dismissal of Andrej Babiš from his post. Organisers said another rally is set to take place on Wenceslas Square on Wednesday. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka last Friday proposed the dismissal of Andrej Babiš to the president over continuing corruption allegations and unexplained financial dealings. The president has refused to do so, arguing that such step would be in contravention of the coalition agreement.
President Miloš Zeman will pardon one of the Czech Republic’s most notorious prisoners, Jiří Kájínek. In an interview for commericail TV Barrandov on Thursday evening, the president said he would sign the pardon after his return from China in mid-May. Kájínek is serving a life sentence after being found guilty of two contract killings, a crime he has always denied committing. He made headlines by escaping from a maximum security prison with a feature film later made about his daring exploits. The Czech head of state has granted seven pardons since taking office. Prior to his election President Zeman said he would only grant pardons in very exceptional cases and transferred the power to conduct clemency reviews to the minister of justice.
Finance Minister and ANO party leader Andrej Babiš has asked Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka to call a meeting of the coalition leaders as soon as possible to discuss the current government crisis, the Czech News Agency reported on Thursday. Mr Babiš said ANO will propose the name of a new candidate for Finance Minister. Mr Babiš didn’t say, however, if he was willing to leave his post and repeated that he saw no reason for his resignation.
Three-fifths of Czech families are paying off some debt at the moment, according to a survey carried out by IBRS Agency for Caritas Czech Republic. An average monthly instalment amounts to 6,700 crowns. One third of the indebted families don’t know how they would solve possible problems with paying off their debt, while two thirds said they would ask their relatives or take yet another debt to solve the problem. According to experts, net earnings below 24,000 crowns a month are regarded insufficient to provide financial security.
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