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13-09-2019

Prague State Attorney’s Office halts fraud investigation involving Czech PM and his family

The Prague State Attorney’s Office has halted a four-year-long investigation into suspected fraud by the country's prime minister, Andrej Babiš, and members of his family.

Andrej Babiš was suspected of having illegally acquired EU subsidies to the tune of 2 million euros by changing the status of his Stork’s Nest farm and conference centre. The subsidies were intended to support small and medium-sized businesses, while the Stork’s Nest farm was originally part of Andrej Babis’s multi-billion crown business empire Agrofert.

Chief State Attorney Martin Erazim justified the decision to halt the investigation by saying that at the time of receiving the subsidy the Stork’s Nest centre fulfilled the respective conditions to meet the grant.

The decision may still be reversed by the country’s Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman.

He thus upheld an earlier decision by lower-instance State Attorney Jaroslav Šaroch who made a U-turn on the case and proposed halting the investigation two weeks ago.

Opposition politicians say decision not to prosecute PM must be thoroughly justified

Opposition politicians have said they respect the decision of the Prague State Attorney’s Office to halt an investigation into the so-called Stork’s Nest Affair, but expect to see the decision thoroughly justified.

TOP 09 leader Jiri Pospíšil tweeted that while he respected the decision, the fact that the State Attorney’s Office had made a U-turn on the case, which only happens in 1 percent of all cases, will require a convincing justification and strong arguments.

The head of the Civic Democrats Petr Fiala said that he accepted the decision, but noted that the case had left a bitter aftertaste and divided Czech society.

The head of the Christian Democrats, Marek Výborný, said that while the decision might be acceptable from a legal perspective, it was not so from an ethical one.

The Pirate Party alone has said it is not convinced by the Chief State Attorney’s arguments and would like to see the case revised.

Deputy foreign minister summons Russian ambassador over Konev row

Deputy Foreign Minister Aleš Chmelař on Friday summoned the Russian ambassador to Prague, Alexandr Zmejevskij, to voice a strong objection to the “untrue and insulting” statements of Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky directed against the mayor of Prague 6 with regard to the debate surrounding the controversial statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev.

Medinsky compared the mayor to a leader of the regional branch of the Nazi party NSDAP and slammed the district administration for allegedly being disrespectful to the liberators of Prague in 1945.

Mr.Chmelař stated in no uncertain terms that the fate of the Konev statue is the Czech Republic’s internal affair and reminded the ambassador that the treaty on cooperation and good-neighbourly relations signed by the Czech Republic and Russia is based on mutual respect and equality. He warned the Russian ambassador against abusing history to further the country’s present day political interests.

The Prague 6 authorities decided on Thursday that the controversial statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev will be replaced by a statue commemorating the soldiers who liberated Prague in 1945, and the controversial statue of the Soviet marshal will be moved to a suitable new site in Prague.

Marshal Konev is perceived as a controversial figure in the Czech Republic. Although he helped liberate the country from Nazi oppression, he was also involved in the suppression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956 and the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

Ruling coalition agrees on salary hike for public sector employees

The ruling coalition has reached agreement on a hike in salaries for public sector employees in 2020.

All public sector employees will receive an additional 1,500 crowns a month in tariffs; the lowest tariff table, which applies to the lowest-paid professions, such as social services employees, will be abolished.

Negotiations are still underway on a 10 percent hike for teachers.

The head of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions Josef Středula welcomed Friday's agreement calling it a good compromise.

“Those who are the worst off will get the biggest hike, and it’s a substantial increase. I think this is a fair deal, ” Středula said.

Smartwings admits pilot error on one-engine flight

An incident in which a Smartwings flight from Greece failed to report an engine shutdown and continued the flight to Prague for another 2 hours and 20 minutes on one engine has been assessed as pilot error, according to the results of an internal investigation conducted by the carrier, as stated in documents the company handed over to the Civil Aviation authority last week.

Smartwings originally denied that the pilots had violated safety regulations, saying that the crew had proceeded in accordance with the safety and operational procedures.

The Aviation Authority is still investigating the incident.

Czech film Daughter wins student Oscar

Daughter, a Czech short animated film by Daria Kashcheeva, has won the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ student Oscar for best animated film from international schools.

Kascheeva, a student of Prague’s Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts is the third Czech film director to win the prestigious award after Jan Svěrák and Marie Dvořáková, who won with their films Oil Gobblers (1989) and Who’s Who in Mycology (2017).

The award-giving gala ceremony in Los Angeles will take place on October 17.

Weather forecast

Saturday should be clear to partly cloudy with day temperatures between 17 and 21 degrees Celsius.

13-09-2019