Daily news summary
Shares of Czech anti-virus provider Avast fall after allegations of data harvesting
Shares of Czech anti-virus giant Avast fell by up to 9 percent in one day on the London stock exchange, following news that the company’s browser extensions may be harvesting users' data which is later sold to supply marketers, news site iHNed.cz reports. Company shares valued at around GBP 5.3 billion have fallen by a further 5 percent on both the London and Prague stock exchanges since the stock exchanges opened on Wednesday, according to iHNed.cz.
The issue was put under the spotlight after major web browsers Mozilla, Opera and Google removed Avast and AVG extensions because they were suspected of collecting user data and sending it on to Avast servers.
Avast says in its defence that users were able to unsubscribe from the data sending function and reassured that personal information including names, email addresses and contact details are not harvested.
Czech Republic’s net benefits from EU increased in 2019 amounting to CZK 68.5 billion
The Czech Republic received CZK 68.5 billion more from the EU than it sent to the union’s budget last year, according to the Czech Ministry of Finance, some CZK 24 billion more in comparison to 2018. The ministry says the rise is due to the increase in drawing money from EU funds.
The positive difference between receiving EU funding and contributing to the EU budget places the Czech Republic among the list of so-called net recipient states. These include all of the other Central European Visegrad Four states as well. Meanwhile, Germany and France rank at the top of EU contributor states.
SAIF: PM's conflict of interest cannot yet be confirmed or denied
Officials from the Czech State Agricultural Intervention Fund (SAIF) say that negotiations into whether Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis is in a conflict of interest or not have so far been inconclusive. The announcement came at a press briefing following Tuesday‘s discussions between representatives of the European Commission and the Czech state about the results of an EU audit sent to the Ministry of Agriculture regarding a potential conflict of interest that Mr Babiš may have due to his position as head of government while also allegedly controling Agrofert, the company he founded, through trust funds. The Czech prime minister insists there is no conflict of interest.
According to SDIF director Martin Šebestyán, the European Commission has approved sending funds to all Agrofert projects except one enterpirse which called for a contribution worth CZK 1.6 million.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture Jiří Šír said at a briefing on Wednesday that negotiations are confidential and detailed information cannot be disclosed, but stressed that the audit results are not yet final.
According to Mr Šír the European Commission now has a month to look into the results of the negotiations. The final audit should then be presented after a further six months.
Probe to find remains of Zdena Mašínová in communist-era mass grave
The Prague authorities have ordered an archaeological probe of a mass grave in order to identify the precise location of the remains of Zdena Mašínová, who was the wife of war hero Josef Mašín and the mother of Ctirad and Josef Mašín, who escaped to the West in 1953. The Communist authorities dumped her body in a mass grave at the Ďáblice cemetery following her death in prison in 1956.
Last year Prague’s leaders agreed with her daughter, also called Zdena Mašínová, to exhume her remains. Councillor Milena Johnová said on Tuesday that according to period witnesses the body had been placed relatively close to the surface in a mass grave of children.
The Ďáblice graveyard contains the remains of around 14,000 people, including political prisoners, children born in prison and the victims of suicide.
Válková files defamation charges over piece linking her to notorious prosecutor
The government’s human rights commissioner, Helena Válková, has filed a criminal complaint of defamation over an article that linked her to notorious Communist prosecutor Josef Urválek, Deník N reported. The former justice minister says that she was not involved in the harassment of dissidents, as the Info.cz website wrote. She is also demanding an apology from historian Petr Blažek, who was quoted in the piece in question.
President Miloš Zeman withdrew his nomination of Ms. Válková for the post of ombudsman after the article was published. She rejected calls to quit as human rights commissioner.
Woman being tested for coronavirus infection at Prague hospital
Prague’s Na Bulovce Hospital announced on Wednesday that it has taken in a female patient who is being tested for the presence of 2019-nCoV, also known as the Wuhan coronavirus, which has killed over 100 people in China. The hospital, which has been selected as a treating and testing facility for the outbreak also took in six patients yesterday. However, their tests all proved negative for the presence of the virus.
Hygienists at the hospital are in constant contact with Prague Airport, where screenings are in place and the capital’s ambulance operators. Thus far no one has tested positive for the coronavirus in the Czech Republic.
Daria Kascheeva’s Daugther awarded animation award at Sundance Film Festival
Daughter, the animated short created by Prague’s FAMU Film School student Daria Kashcheeva has been awarded the Short Film Jury Award for Animation at the annual Sundance Film Festival. It is the latest in a series of high-level awards bestowed on the film since it came out in 2019. The 33-year-old Kashcheeva, who made the picture as part of her bachelor degree at FAMU, used an innovative hand-held camera technique in the film. This, she says, gives it a documentary feel and has impressed many critics.
The annual Utah based Sundance Film Festival was created by actor and director Robert Redford and is regarded as the largest festival of independent American cinematography.
Ms Kashcheeva’s Daughter has also been nominated for this year’s Oscars and the Czech Lion Magnesia Award for the Best Student Film.
West Ham to buy Slavia midfielder Tomáš Souček for GBP 13 million
The Premier League side West Ham has agreed a GBP 13 million transfer deal with Slavia Prague for Tomáš Souček, BBC Sport reports. The 24-year-old defensive midfielder has scored 10 goals in 19 appearances for Slavia this season and also has 20 caps for the Czech national side. West Ham manager David Moyes said that the midfielder “ticks a lot of boxes” for the London side’s needs.
Aside from negotiating a contract, Souček is currently undergoing tests and a health check. Slavia Chairman Jaroslav Tvrdík says that, if the transfer is completed, Souček could become the country’s most expensive footballer to be sold abroad, beating the previous record set by Tomáš Rosický, who was purchased by Dortmund for CZK 504 million in 2001.
Heavy clouds and rain are expected in the central and northern parts of the country on Thursday, with the south likely to get more sunlight. Temperatures will hover between 4 to 7 degrees Celsius.