Daily news summary

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Czech PM begins two-day visit to Israel

The Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, begins a two-day visit to Israel on Wednesday. Mr. Babiš is set to meet Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, and prime minister, Benjamin Netanjahu, on the opening day of his stay. On Thursday he will attend the fifth annual World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem alongside the presidents of France, Russia and Germany.

Prime Minister Babiš will also meet Czech Holocaust survivors, the chairman of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, and Petr Starý, who is the Czech Republic’s liason office in Ramallah.

MPs pass law to sanction multiple voting in EP elections

Multiple voting in the European Parliament elections will be classified as a misdemeanour and fined with up to CZK 10,000 under an amendment to the law on the EP elections passed by the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday.

The change, which complies with the European Council's decision, will take effect as of next year if it is approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Miloš Zeman.

The opposition Pirate Party failed with their proposal to introduce voting for MEPs at Czech embassies abroad.

City of Prague seeks partnership with Munich and Dresden

The City of Prague wants to approve a partnership agreement with Vienna, and considers establishing a similar agreement with Dresden and Munich, Mayor Zdeněk Hřib told the Czech News Agency on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Prague signed a sister city contract with the Taiwanese capital Taipei. The Czech capital previously had a sister agreement with Beijing, but a dispute over a clause regarding the One China policy led to it being terminated by the Czech capital last October.

Mr Hřib has also signed a so-called Free Cities Pact with the mayors of Bratislava, Budapest and Warsaw aimed at strengthening cooperation and promoting joint projects.

Dark net drug sales uncovered by Czech police

The Czech National Anti-Drug Centre in cooperation with customs officers and the Czech Post uncovered two cases of drugs sales via Dark net.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, the agency’s head Jakub Frydrych said the perpetrators had been sending several kilogrammes of drugs every month from the Czech Republic to destinations all around the world.

The offenders, aged 25 to 28, were apprehended during two separate operations.

Number of new companies at three-year low

Around 29,780 new companies were set up in the Czech Republic in 2019, according to the consultancy company Bisnode. That is the lowest figure since 2017, but also the third highest in the past decade.

Last year a record number of businesses ceased to exist, with one business shutting down per every two new companies. According to Bisnode, these are mostly companies that were not active or competitive enough.

Czech cinemas record increase in audience figures

Czech cinemas recorded a significant increase in attendance last year, the Union of Film Distributors said on Wednesday. In 2019, cinema operators sold over 18 million tickets, which is the highest number since 1993, when the figure reached nearly 22 million visitors.

Sales reached a record CZK 2.6 billion, a year-on-year increase by 15 percent. The most popular film in 2019 was the Czech comedy Jogging for Love with over 1,500 000 visitors.

Weather

Thursday is expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with daytime temperatures ranging between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius.