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Chief of spy service BIS rejects President Zeman’s criticisms

Michal Koudelka, head of the national counterintelligence service BIS, has rejected an assertion by President Miloš Zeman that the organisation has failed to catch any spies or present hard evidence of Russian and Chinese operations here.

BIS its annual report issued on Monday that spies from those countries are increasingly active in the Czech Republic, working under diplomatic cover, and engaged in spreading disinformation and economic espionage.

The Czech president said BIS presented no proof of this and furthermore had failed to uncover any Islamic terrorists on Czech territory although the police’s national organised crime unit and others had asserted their existence.

Koudelka said in a published statement on Friday that Zeman’s comments were “unfortunate”. The BIS has had a successful year, and, among other things, helped expose and dismantle a Russian intelligence service operating here.

The country’s interior minister, Jan Hamáček, has also rejected the president’s characterisation, heaping praise on the BIS.

Prague prosecutor reviewing state attorney’s work on “Stork’s Nest” case v PM Andrej Babiš

Prague’s public prosecutor Lenka Bradáčová has initiated a check on a state attorney who is investigating the so-called Stork’s Nest case over the abuse of EU subsidies, in which Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and other could face prosecution.

According to Czech Radio, Ms Bradáčová began questioning the work of state attorney Jaroslav Šaroch on the case already last year due to slow pace of work, among other alleged shortcomings.

In May this year, Mr Šaroch rejected a petition from Mr. Babiš and six others facing fraud charges, who argued that the case against them was unfounded.

But while rejected their claim, Mr Šaroch also said that the police investigators’ conclusions were incomplete and not entirely credible.

Mr Babiš was formally charged in October 2017 with fraud in the case, which involves a 2 million euro subsidy to the Stork’s Nest complex a decade ago.

Report: number of Czech crystal meth, opioid addicts and ODs rising

The number of drug overdoses has been rising steadily along with the use of opioids, according to the latest annual report by the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction. Last year, 42 people died from drug overdoses, up from 32 the year before, it says.

Meanwhile, large-scale production of a form of crystal meth known locally as pervitin has moved from the Czech Republic to Poland, but also to Germany and the Netherlands, according to the annual drug report.

The centre also notes a rise in addiction to opioids prescribed for relieving chronic pain. It estimates there are now 35,000 pervitin addicts and 13,000 people addicted to opioids, or about 1,000 more addicts in total.

Respekt: Charles University vice-rector accused by grad students of plagiarism

A Charles University vice-rector is being investigated for plagiarism following a complaint by several graduate students, the investigative weekly Respekt reports.

The students charge that Prof. Martin Kovář, who heads the Institute of World History at the university’s philosophical faculty, drew heavily on the work of the late British historian Barry Coward without proper citation.

Specifically, they say that Kovář’s book on the history of Stuart England copies the thematic structure of Coward’s book on the subject, uses passages from it and cites many of the same original sources yet is passed off as stemming from original research.

The doctoral students point to similar problems in two other books by Kovář, who rejects the charges.

This year two government ministers were forced to resign over accusations of plagiarism: Taťána Malá (ANO), who briefly served as Minister of Justice, and Petr Krčál (Social Democrats), who served as Minister of Labour and Social Affairs.

Senate chairman supports President's call to move Czech embassy to Jerusalem

Recently elected Senate chairman Jaroslav Kubera of the opposition centre-right Civic Democrats has expressed his support for President Miloš Zeman’s plan to move the Czech embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Mr Kubera’s comments came on Thursday evening following his first meeting with the Czech head of state, held at Prague Castle. He told reporters they had agreed to continue to discuss foreign policy issues together and to continue to promote economic diplomacy.

But the Senate chairman said economic diplomacy should not be limited to China and Russia, countries which President Zeman supports. He said they agreed on increasing the country’s military spending in line with NATO targets.

Czech industrial growth up 6.7 pct in October

Czech industrial production grew by 6.7 percent year on year in October, after somewhat weaker performance in recent months, data from the Czech Statistical Office show.

New orders reached double digit growth, suggesting that recent weakness could be related to one-offs.

Manufacturing grew by 7.7 percent, supported by strong automobile production, up 8.8 percent in annual terms after falling in the previous two months.

Czechs into semi-finals at Floorball World Championships after hammering Denmark

The Czech Republic have reached the semi-finals of the Floorball World Championships after easily overcoming Denmark 10:1. The turnout for Thursday night’s quarter-final at Prague’s O2 Arena was 5,073 and brought the overall attendance for the current edition of the sport’s World Championships to a new record high of almost 107,000 with more games to go.

The Czechs will face either Germany or Finland in a semi-final on Saturday, with either of those countries regarded as favourites to defeat the hosts.

Weather outlook

Saturday should be cloudy in Prague and in the western and northern most parts of the country, with scattered showers likely. Daytime highs should be between 5 to 9 degrees Celsius. In Bohemia and Vysočina, strong winds with gusts of up to 70 kilometers per hour are anticipated over the weekend.