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22-05-2019

Estimated 50,000 attend anti-Babiš protest on Wenceslas Square

The fourth in a weekly series of protests against Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his appointment of Marie Benešová as justice minister took place in Prague on Tuesday evening. Whereas previous demonstrations were focused on Old Town Square the latest took place on the larger Wenceslas Square. Organisers Million Moments for Democracy said around 50,000 people had taken part.

As well as demanding the removal of Mrs. Benešová and the safeguarding of an independent judiciary, the protests’ organisers have called on Mr. Babiš to take part in a TV debate. He has refused to do so.

Million Moments for Democracy say unless their demands are met they will hold further demonstrations around the country next Tuesday and another one in Prague in a fortnight’s time.

Mr. Babiš appointed Mrs. Benešová as minister of justice days after police recommended he face trial for the alleged abuse of EU subsidies.

Constitutional Court rejects MPs’ complaint over compulsory data retention by telecoms

The Constitutional Court has rejected a complaint from 2017 by a group of 57 MPs over sections of laws relating to retention of traffic and location data by telecommunications groups.

Currently, operators must store such data for at least six months and turn it over to police or secret services upon request.

Using the data investigators can determine whether certain people have communicated with each other by phone and e-mail. The obligation does not concern the content of calls and text messages.

Critics say current Czech law violates people’s rights to privacy and provides inadequate guarantees against their data being misused.

Czechs say tonnes more salmonella-infected Polish chicken imported since April

Czech authorities have discovered tonnes more salmonella-contaminated chicken meat was imported from Poland over the past two months.

The Polish chicken meat was first shipped to about a dozen distributors in Germany, the State Veterinary Office said on Wednesday. Most likely, all of it has already been consumed, it said.

Earlier this year bad Polish beef ended up in 11 countries, including the Czech Republic. In response, authorities here implemented blanket checks on imported Polish beef.

The mandatory controls ended in late March, after Warsaw guaranteed no cattle meat unfit for human consumption would reach the market.

Poll: Most Czech school-leavers disinterested in politics yet plan to vote in EU elections

Over half of Czechs boys and girls finishing secondary school this year say they are not interested in politics but will vote in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

This is according to a poll of 548 students of voting-age conducted by the Tutor agency in April and released on Wednesday.

Nearly six in ten students (58 percent) said they were not interested in politics, yet the same percentage of those eligible to vote said they would do so. Some 39 percent said they did not plan to vote and 3 percent said they were not sure if they would.

The EU elections take place in the Czech Republic this coming Friday and Saturday (May 24-25). The results will be made public on Sunday evening. In the previous elections five years ago, turnout was only 18.2 percent.

OECD: Czech economic growth slowing, investment in infrastructure, education needed

The latest OECD forecast predicts the Czech economy will grow 2.6 percent this year, down from 2.9 percent in 2018. The Paris-based organisation expects Czech GDP growth of 2.5 percent next year.

The main drivers for growth include household consumption, buoyed by rising average salaries, and a positive foreign trade balance. On the downside are chronic labour shortages and weaker demand for Czech exports.

The OECD again called on the Czech government to invest more especiallly in transport infrastructure, to better link the country with important trading partners, and in education.

Although Czech tertiary educated adults are highly skilled, tertiary attainment rates in the Czech Republic rank in the lowest 20 percent of OECD countries.

Čech reportedly set to become sporting director at Chelsea

The former Czech international goalkeeper Petr Čech will become sporting director of Chelsea following his retirement next week, the UK TV station Sky Sports reported on Tuesday. Čech enjoyed enormous success with Chelsea before joining Arsenal, for whom he will make his last appearance in the final of the Europa League – against Chelsea – next week.

Čech tweeted after the Sky Sports report was published that he would be making a decision about his future after the game. He is the most capped Czech international ever and has won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and, in international competition, one Champions League and one Europa League title.

Slavia Prague face Baník Ostrava in battle for Czech football cup

Football clubs Slavia Prague and Baník Ostrava face each other on Wednesday evening in the Czech Cup soccer final, known as the MOL Cup, in the Moravian city of Olomouc.

Slavia, this year’s First League champions, have won the cup four times. Baník Ostrava have won the competition only once before – in Olomouc, in the year 2005.

A Baník victory would also see the Moravian-Silesian club qualify for the preliminary round of next season’s Europa League.

Weather outlook

After a night of heavy rainfall, the forecast for Thursday is for cloudy skies throughout most of the country, with scattered showers likely in northern Moravia. Average daytime highs should range between 14 to 22 degrees, depending on the cloud cover.

22-05-2019