The Senate’s security committee has criticised President Miloš Zeman for
tasking the BIS intelligence service with investigating whether the nerve
agent Novichok was produced or stored in the Czech Republic. The committee
also rejected the position of Mr. Zeman’s office on the extradition of
alleged Russian hacker Yevgeny Nikulin to the US after Prague Castle
officials accused the government of mishandling the situation.
Senators described Mr. Zeman’s actions in regard to both issues as a security and foreign policy risk. They also called on the head of state not to make similar interventions in the future and to respect the powers granted to him by the constitution.
President Zeman asked the head of BIS to investigate whether Novichok, with which a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned in the UK, might have come from the Czech Republic, as claimed by Moscow.
The UK blames Russia for the attack and the Czech Republic was one of several countries to expel Russian diplomats over the matter.
The Czech economy expanded by 4.6 percent in 2017, according to revised
data released by the Czech Statistics Office on Tuesday. A previous figure
published in early March put gross domestic product growth at 4.5 percent.
The reason for the improvement was new information for last year from the government institutions sector.
In 2016 GDP expanded by 2.5 percent, up from the 5.4 percent recorded the previous year.
Amid continuing talks on forming a government with ANO, the leader and
deputy leader of the Social Democrats are set to meet President Miloš
Zeman on Wednesday, the latter’s spokesperson announced. The head of
state favours a minority coalition of ANO and the Social Democrats, backed
by the Communist Party during key votes in the Chamber of Deputies.
A number of issues remain unresolved between election winners ANO and the Social Democrats, who came sixth. The latter are demanding five cabinet seats but ANO chief Andrej Babiš is only offering them four.
The Social Democrats also say they want a top ministry, either finance or interior, for tolerating Mr. Babiš as prime minister, despite the fact he is facing criminal charges of abusing EU subsidies.
The minister of transport in the acting Czech cabinet, Dan Ťok, says he
would not serve in a government kept in place by Tomio Okamura’s Freedom
and Direct Democracy party. Mr. Ťok, who is an ANO appointee, told the
news site Novinky.cz that he would like to complete the work he has started
at the Ministry of Transport but would not remain in government under any
Mr. Ťok’s position is shared by three colleagues in the current government in resignation. Martin Stropnický, Robert Pelikán and Karla Šlechtová have also said they would not serve in a cabinet backed by Mr. Okamura’s anti-migrant and anti-EU party.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement saying
Russia’s negative reaction to the extradition of Russian alleged hacker
Yevgeny Nikulin to the United States had been expected. Via its Twitter
account, the ministry said on Tuesday that Moscow’s response had not been
Nevertheless, from the Czech Republic’s perspective the move was a sovereign decision based on independent courts, including the Constitutional Court, the statement said.
Last week Mr. Nikulin was handed over to the United States, where he will face charges of stealing data from major internet companies. He is wanted in his native country on lesser charges and Russia had also requested his extradition.
The Constitutional Court says an application to extradite Russian alleged
hacker Yevgeny Nikulin to the United States was well-founded. The
country’s top court on Tuesday published the reasoning behind its
decision to respect the US’s request for the handover of Mr. Nikulin. He
faces charges of hacking top internet companies, including LinkedIn and
The Czech justice minister, Robert Pelikán, extradited Mr. Nikulin to the US after the Constitutional Court’s ruling last week, which lifted any obstacle to him doing so.
Mr. Nikulin’s lawyer, Martin Sadílek, said he was waiting to hear from Mr. Nikulin’s parents as to whether they want to take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights.
The US rock band Metallica performed a popular Czech song during a concert
in Prague on Monday night. The group surprised the crowd with an
impromptu-seeming rendition of Banjo Band’s Jožin z bažin.
The song was written by the latter’s leader Ivan Mládek and first released in the 1970s, before becoming a YouTube sensation 10 years ago.
Metallica performed songs from throughout a career spanning almost four decades at a sold-out O2 Arena.
Croatia last year reinforced its position as the most popular foreign
destination for Czechs. According to figures issued by the Czech Statistics
Office on Tuesday, 850,000 Czechs visited Croatia in 2017, a rise of 3
percent on the previous year.
The country has been the top destination for Czechs for 20 years, with the exception of 2015, when it was beaten in that regard by Slovakia.
Italy was the second most popular destination for Czechs in 2017. Some 636,000 visited the country, a rise of 15 percent on the year before.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has slammed the Czech Republic’s
decision to extradite its national, alleged hacker Yevgeny Nikulin, to the
The Russian foreign ministry issued a statement on Monday calling it a “politically motivated” decision made to demonstrate allegiance, rather than a decision on the basis of legal grounds.
It said the decision would inevitably undermine Czech-Russian relations.