ANO leader and finance minister Andrej Babiš said on Monday that he would refuse to discuss the issue of one crown bonds if raised in a meeting of government leaders. He added that the subject was part of a campaign against him by the senior coalition party, the Social Democrats. The issue was put on the agenda for discussion by party leaders on Monday. Prime Minister and Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka has voiced suspicions that Babiš’ purchase of the bonds issued by his own company, Agrofert, was exploited as a tax dodge. His has called for an investigation by tax officials but they have so far failed to oblige.
An increasing number of children are suffering from negative side effects of vaccinations, according to the State Institute for Control of Drugs. The institute says it now gets hundreds of complaints every year, some insignificant, others fairly or very serious. No link has so far been proven between vaccination and autism or epilepsy but an increasing number of parents fear they may be putting their children at risk. Parents who do not get their children vaccinated face complications such as not being able to enrol them in nursery schools.
Karel Štogl, a former diplomat at OSCE, has announced his decision to run in the 2018 presidential elections. According to the news site Neovlivni.cz Štogl will run as an independent and will be launching his campaign in June. Among the candidates for the presidential post are Miloš Zeman who announced last week he would seek re-election, lyricist Michal Horáček, and physician and civic activist Marek Hilšer.
The newly-elected leadership of the Social Democratic Party met in Prague on Sunday to discuss immediate priorities and agree on a division of competences within the party leadership. Bohuslav Sobotka was confirmed in the top post over the weekend and Interior Minister Milan Chovanec was re-elected first deputy. Party leader Sobotka said at the close of the election conference that the party was united and ready for battle in the autumn general elections.
At least half of Czech secondary students are not media literate, according to the results of a survey conducted by the NGO People in Need at 132 schools around the country. Despite growing awareness of the need to connect classroom learning to the real world only half of the secondary schools surveyed made media education part of their curricula. Its introduction was first recommended to schools ten years ago. Some of the schools that have introduced media education only devote ten hours a year to it.
President Zeman has said he would like for the present coalition of Social Democrats and ANO to continue in office after the autumn parliamentary elections. Speaking to the commercial daily Blesk, Zeman said the outcome would not depend on the president but on voters themselves. The head of state also confirmed that in the course of this year he would be holding talks with the presidents of the US, China and Russia. He said he would be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in November.
Proposed amendments to the foreigners’ law currently being debated in Parliament could significantly complicate the life of foreigners in the Czech Republic, according to the Chamber of Commerce and non-governmental institutions helping immigrants. They point out that the amendments, which proponents claim are in the interest of national security, could impact Czechs married to a foreigner or those employing foreign workers. According to the proposed changes foreigners who are refused residence by the Interior Ministry could no longer take their case to court as they may now. According to Magda Faltova, head of the Association for Integration, over a quarter of these court appeals are successful. Foreigners filing applications would also have to present the originals of documents such as birth or wedding certificates.
Lower house deputy Milan Urban is a hot candidate for the post of industry minister vacated following the dismissal of Jan Mladek, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes reported, citing three independent sources. Mr. Urban himself refused to confirm the news, telling journalists they would have to wait until Monday. Government spokesman Martin Ayrer said the prime minister was still due to meet with potential candidates. Milan Urban served as industry minister in the years between 2003 and 2006 under three successive prime ministers.
Martina Sáblíková took gold in the 3000m to win her 11th consecutive long distance World Cup at the ISU Speed Skating World Cup Final Stavanger on Saturday. The triple Olympic gold medalist clocked a winning time of 4 min 04.21sec to beat nearest challenger Antoinette de Jong of The Netherlands by 1.14 seconds and seal her World Cup triumph with a total of 630 points. Sáblíková dominated the long distances as usual this season. She won four of five 3000m races and the only 5000m race in Heerenveen.