Daily news summary

President Zeman considering cancelling visit to Russia over “insolent” statement from Moscow

President Miloš Zeman has said he is considering cancelling his planned visit to Russia next year in protest against what he described as Russia’s outrageously insolent reaction to the Czech Parliament’s decision to recognize the day of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia as a day of remembrance for those who had been killed by the invading forces.

Moscow said in response to the news that Prague's efforts to return to the 1968 events in order to incorporate them into the current political context, would not contribute to good relations and cooperation between the two countries.

The president stressed the importance of remembering such historic events and said that should he decide to travel to Moscow he would make this quite clear to his hosts.

Finance minister expecting 30 billion crown deficit in 2019

Finance Minister Alena Schillerová has said she expects a 30 billion crown deficit in 2019. The deficit was originally projected at 40 billion crowns.

Despite the narrowed deficit, opposition parties remain critical, arguing that there is no justification for a deficit budget at a time of solid economic growth. They moreover criticize the fact that large sums are spent on the social sphere rather than on investments.

The 2018 budget ended on a surplus of 2.9 billion, despite the projected 50 billion crown deficit.

Cabinet to debate bill on cyber security

The cabinet is due to debate a proposed amendment to the law on cyber security in the coming days, the head of Military Intelligence Jan Beroun told the ctk news agency. The amendment is now being studied by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, and should be addressed by members of the State Security Council.

The bill would give Military Intelligence broader powers, among others the right to continuously monitor public communications networks.

The country has seen two big cyberattacks in the past few weeks, targeting a hospital in Benešov and the OKD coal mining company. Previous attempts to amend the law have failed due to privacy concerns.

After-Christmas and New Year sales are in full swing

After-Christmas and New Year sales are in full swing in most chain stores in the Czech Republic with Czechs expected to spend almost as much as in the Christmas rush. Moreover 13 percent of Czech families leave gift-giving until the New Year in order to save money.

According to statistics Czechs spent 52 billion crowns in e-shops in the run up to Christmas and are expected to spend a similar amount in the New Year sales.

Customers are spending predominantly on mobile phones and household equipment such as TV sets, washing-machines, dishwashers, and fridges.

Police arrest cocaine kingpin

The police say they have arrested a cocaine kingpin who supplied customers throughout Prague with the drug for years. The 38-year-old suspect has been charged and is in custody. During a raid of his home police confiscated large amounts of the drug and tens of thousands of euros. If convicted he could face between ten and twenty years in prison.

Most Czechs will celebrate arrival of 2020 at home

The majority of Czechs (81 percent) will celebrate the arrival of the New Year at home or among their relatives and close friends. Four percent of respondents plan to go to a restaurant or club and twelve percent said they had no special plans for the big night. Three percent of Czechs will see the New Year in abroad.

Czechs will spend on average 2,290 crowns on food, drink and fireworks this year; a 16 percent increase on last year. Thirty-one percent of respondents said they would toast the New Year with champagne, 26 percent will opt for wine and 18 percent with beer.

Weather forecast

Sunday should bring partly cloudy skies and day temperatures between -3 and 1 degrees Celsius.