Daily news summary Daily news summary

Foreign Ministry hands out Gratias Agit Awards

Foreign Minister Martin Stropnický on Friday handed out Gratias Agit awards to Czech expatriates and foreigners for promoting the good name of the Czech Republic abroad.

Among this year’s recipients were three Russians who in 1968 protested against the Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia, paying a high price for their courage and solidarity.

Tatyana Bayeva, Pavel Litvinov and Viktor Fajnberg are the last three surviving protesters of a group of eight who staged a protest on Moscow’s Red Square. They were punished by severe jail sentences or locked up in psychiatric institutions.

Other laureates of the Gratias Agit Awards are physician Watheq Al-Qsous from Jordan who is the chief coordinator of the government’s medical aid program Medevac which has helped thousands of Syrian refugees, Estanislao Kocourek, an architect of Czech origin and the builder of the first high-rise buildings to appear in Buenos Aires and Jiri Šíma one of the leading experts in the field of water management and environmental protection who has been applying his experience in Ethiopia, South Africa and Namibia.

Slovak Supreme Court rejects petition from Czech PM

The Slovak Supreme Court has rejected a petition from Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš with regard to his ongoing dispute with the Slovak National Memory Institute over his communist past.

Mr. Babiš argues that he was wrongly listed as an agent of Czechoslovakia’s Communist-era secret police in the institute’s records. A previous complaint by him was rejected by the Regional Court in Bratislava.

Prime Minister Babiš said on Wednesday that he would sue Slovakia in the European Court of Human Rights over the allegations.

Babiš, a Slovak entrepreneur who now has Czech citizenship, maintains that, as an employee of a foreign trade firm, he had met with the secret police, but never pledged to cooperate.

Mayors and Independents Party: Senate should end talk about referendum on leaving EU

The Party of Mayors and Independents, which is represented in the Senate, has said it will push the upper chamber to pass a resolution rejecting the idea of a law which would enable Czechs to vote on whether to leave the EU and NATO.

Party leader Petr Gazdík said this would make it clear that the efforts of the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party to get such a law approved and support for the idea from the Communist Party have no chance of leading to fruition. All constitutional laws need to win approval in the Senate.

Unemployment hits new low

Unemployment in the Czech Republic hit a new low in May, dropping to 3 percent from 3.2 in April, the main Labour Office reported on Friday.

The year-on-year decline is even steeper, down from 4.1 percent. At the end of the month labour offices reported 230,000 unemployed, the lowest number since June 1997.

The unemployment rate has been dropping steadily since February and labour market experts say the trend is likely to continue.

Labe River closed to traffic at Nymburk

The Labe River, a busy waterway which connects the cities of Melnik, Nymburk and Kolin with Berlin and the Baltic Sea has had to be closed to traffic at Nymburk.

The Czech Water Management Office closed a stretch of the waterway to traffic after an inspection revealed that a footbridge over the river was in a critical state of disrepair and could collapse onto traffic passing under it.

It is not yet clear when the footbridge will be pulled down. There is no alternative waterway.

Street festival kicks off in Prague

The street art festival Praha Žije Hudbou, which starts on Friday will offer over 500 performances and 200 artists at more than 50 locations in Prague over the next two days.

The busking festival, which is in its third year includes music, dance, new circus, and theatre by artists and theatre ensembles such as Cirk La Putyka, Spitfire Company, VerTeDance & Beata Hlavenková, the British duo Heymoonshaker and Lewis Floyd Henry, among others.

Weather forecast

Saturday should bring partly cloudy to overcast skies, with rain in places, and day temperatures between 27 and 31 degrees Celsius.