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President speaks out in support of bill on national referenda

President Miloš Zeman addressed the lower house of parliament on Friday to express support for a government-proposed bill which would enable holding national referenda. The president, who has long advocated the need for such a law, said it would help to overcome a barrier of alienation between politicians and citizens and to help draw citizens into the decision-making process. As a constitutional change the bill needs at least three-fifth of lawmakers’ support in the lower and upper houses of parliament. The proposed law would allow a referendum to be called if it were backed by at least 250,000 voters.Debate on the bill has been suspended and will continue in a fortnights’ time.

Opposition wants special parliament session on questions surrounding finance minister’s Stork Nest farm

The opposition parties TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats want to propose an extraordinary session of Parliament to debate the ongoing EU investigation into the drawing of funds for the Stork’s Nest farm and conference centre of ANO leader and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš. According to the news site Neovlivni.cz fines of 6.0 million crowns were imposed on the farm in the past. The circumstances of EU funds awarded to the project are now being investigated by EU anti-fraud authorities. The company has denied it was asked to pay any penalty.

National Security Office says PM’s leaked mails were not confidential

The hacked e-mails of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka did not contain any confidential information, Viktor Paggio, spokesman for the National Security Office, told the news site Lidovky.cz on Friday. The extreme right-wing Czech website "White Media“ which is behind the hacking and which released some of the mails earlier this year claimed otherwise. The hacking into the prime minister's e-mail account is being investigated by the police squad for organised crime on suspicion of blackmail, among others. In response to the incident Prime Minister Sobotka ordered a security audit at the Office of the Government and asked the National Security Office for cooperation in securing the accounts of all cabinet ministers.

Twenty Czech police officers to help protect Slovenian border

Twenty Czech police officers on Friday left for Slovenia where they will be helping to protect the Slovenian border with Croatia. In line with the closing of the so-called west-Balkans route agreed on at an EU summit this week, Slovenia has closed its border and is only letting through people with valid visas and documents. The Czechs will be patrolling a twenty-kilometer stretch of the border for seven weeks.

Czech PM stresses need to improve rail and road links to Bavaria

Improving rail and road infrastructure between the Czech Republic and Bavaria is essential for the further development of bilateral cooperation, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said at a business seminar in Munich on Friday. The Czech prime minister noted that the state of road and rail links between the two neighbours is as if the Iron Curtain had never been removed. Mr. Sobotka, who is on a two day visit to Bavaria discussed the issue on Thursday with Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer.

In the course of his visit the Czech Prime Minister awarded the Memorial Medal of Karel Kramář to Sudeten German Social Democrat Olga Sippl for her life-long dedication to fostering good relations between Czechs and Germans.

Klaus supports Alternative for Germany in election campaign

The former Czech president Vaclav Klaus is making a number of public appearances in support of Germany’s right-wing Alternative for Germany party (AfD) in its campaign in the Rhineland-Palatinate elections, the news site Novinky reported Friday. According to the site Mr. Klaus also appears on some of the party’s election billboards together with party leader Frauke Petry and candidate Uwe Young. Mr. Klaus has supported the Eurosceptic party in the past appearing at some of their conferences and gatherings.

New book out on Iron Curtain deaths in communist Czechoslovakia

The Czech Academy of Sciences and the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian regimes have cooperated on a book just out tracing the fate of the close to 300 people who were killed trying to flee from communist Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1989. The book published under the heading The Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia is a collection of human interest stories portraying the victims, what motivated them to risk their lives crossing the Iron Curtain and who is responsible for their deaths.

Priest found guilty of sexual abuse of minors

The regional court in Přerov has served a priest who sexually abused minors a two year conditional sentence and ordered him to undergo treatment. The 64-year-old priest, who retired a few years ago, was found guilty of paying Romany boys for oral sex. One of the boys was under 15. The priest allegedly picked them up at the Přerov railway station, far from the community where he served.

Average monthly wage crosses 28,000 crowns

The average nominal monthly wage in the Czech Republic reached 28, 152 crowns in the fourth quarter of 2015, the Czech Statistics Office reported on Friday. It is the first time the average wage has crossed the 28,000 crown margin. The quarterly increase was 3.9 percent, the fastest wage growth registered since 2009. In South Moravia the nominal wage grew by four percent to 27,500 crowns in the fourth quarter of last year.

Sparta Prague draw 1:1 against Lazio

Sparta Prague drew 1:1 with Lazio Rome in the first leg at home of the last 16 round of the Europa League. Sparta went ahead early with a superb strike by Frýdek in the 17th minute. Lazio’s Parolo equalized from close range in the 38th minute after a scramble in the goalmouth. Lazio had most of the pressure in the second half with Lazio’s Candreva hitting the post in the 58th minute. Sparta now have to score at least one goal in Rome in a week to go through to the last eight of the competition for the first time.