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Babiš govt expected to survive no-confidence vote Wednesday

The government of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is expected to survive a no-confidence vote in the Czech lower house on Wednesday. Opposition parties tabled the motion after a preliminary European Commission audit found Mr. Babiš to be in conflict of interest in connection his business affairs.

However, the government will receive sufficient backing from MPs from coalition members ANO and the Social Democrats, as well as the Communists, who support the minority cabinet on key votes.

It is the second time the Babiš government, which was appointed a year ago on Thursday, faces such a challenge in the Chamber of Deputies.

euronews: CoE anti-corruption body singles out Czechia for low scores

The Council of Europe's anti-corruption body GRECO has singled out the Czech Republic for its low scores in its yearly report card, euronews reports.

GRECO President Marin Mrčela is quoted as saying the Czech Republic is in a so-called non-compliance procedure.

"In the last round, they received 16 recommendations, and none of them were implemented. No wonder the people are not happy," Mrčela said, referring to anti-government protests in Prague over the weekend that drew over 280,000 people.

Fifteen other countries, including Germany and France, also disregarded the Strasbourg-based human rights body's procedures. Hungary did not authorise the publishing of the GRECO report, an MEP told euronews.

Ex-health minister David Rath loses corruption case appeal

David Rath, a former health minister and regional governor sentenced to 8.5 years in prison for corruption, has lost an appeal to overturn the verdict. The Prague High Court of Appeal on Tuesday confirmed the guilt of Rath, who when governor of Central Bohemia seven years ago was arrested with millions of crowns on his person, which prosecutors said was a bribe for rigging public contracts.

Rath was accused of manipulating tenders for the reconstruction of Buštěhrad Castle in Kladno and an elite high school in Hostivice, as well as for purchasing equipment for a seniors’ home in Kladno and Central Bohemia hospitals. Ten others were indicted on related charges.

Greenpeace activists storm ČEZ meeting to protest Počerady coal plant sale

Activists from the environmental pressure group Greenpeace disrupted the ongoing general meeting of state-controlled utility ČEZ on Wednesday to protest against the possible sale of the Počerady coal-fired power plant.

Six of some two dozen Greenpeace activists managed to get past security and enter the hall while the meeting was underway. They were carrying banners reading "Stop the Počerady sale" and "Climate change starts here".

Počerady is among the Czech Republic’s biggest coal-fired plants. ČEZ’s supervisory board had rejected a proposed sale of the plant in May 2017. Environmental activists want it decommissioned.

Supreme Administrative Court confirms validity of EU vote

The Czech Supreme Administrative Court has dismissed or settled all 19 complaints it received regarding the elections to the European Parliament held in late May.

Among the complaints was one filed by Senator Lukáš Wagenknecht (an independent, who ran on the Pirate Party ticket), who challenged the election of MEPs on the ANO ticket of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.

He had pointed to Babiš’s alleged conflicts of interest, saying he continued to control media through the Agrofert holding, and thereby improperly funded and influenced their campaigns.

The Court said it is not empowered to assess the allegations and Wagenknecht should address his complaints to the body charged with oversight of political parties’ finances.

Czech police seize more meth, less marihuana

Czech police last year seized more of the type of crystal methamphetamine known locally as pervitin than in 2017.

This despite large-scale production having moved to Poland, Germany and the Netherlands, according to the annual drug report.

The report says 240 small-scale meth labs were discovered in 2018, down 24 from the previous year. Large-scale production of pervetin is controlled by organised criminal groups, dominated by Vietnamese gangs, it says.

Police seized 948 kilograms of marihuana last year in the Czech Republic, about 150 kg less year-on-year. The amount of methamphetamine seized increased to 106 kg.

The National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction has noted a rise in addiction to meth and opioids prescribed for relieving chronic pain.

Nedomanský to become second Czech in ice hockey Hall of Fame

Retired forward Václav Nedomanský will become the second Czech inducted into ice hockey’s Hall of Fame in Toronto in November. The only Czech to previously receive this accolade was goaltender Dominik Hašek in 2014.

Nedomanský, who is 75, played for Detroit, New York Rangers and St. Louis in the NHL. He was a member of the Czechoslovak world championship winning team in 1972 and scored 163 goals in 220 games for the national side.

Weather outlook

Thursday should be sunny and warm throughout the country, with average daytime highs of 26 to 32 degrees Celsius. It should be slightly cooler on Friday and through the weekend, due to increased cloud cover.