Daily news summary

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Thousands take part in latest anti-Babiš demonstration

Thousands of people protested against Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš in Prague on Tuesday evening. Police said around 15,000 had taken part in a demonstration on Wenceslas Square that was followed by a march to the Office of the Government in the city’s Klárov district, while organisers Million Moments for Democracy put attendance at tens of thousands.

Representatives of a number of opposition parties spoke at the protest, which was the latest in a series held by Million Moments for Democracy. The group say Mr. Babiš is in conflict of interest and should stand down and are also demanding the removal of his minister of justice, Marie Benešová.

Convicted terrorist Jaromír Balda fails with appeal to Supreme Court

The Czech Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by Jaromír Balda to change his conviction qualification from “terrorist attack" to “public threat", Czech Television reported on Wednesday. The 71–year–old man was convicted of terrorism after seeking to derail a train by cutting two trees onto the tracks. His aim was to create the impression in Czech society that Muslim immigrants were behind the attack, but the attempt failed. Mr Balda originally faced the prospect of five to 15 years in jail, but was only given a four year sentence, due to diminished sanity.

Czechs remember anniversary of Václav Havel’s death with special events across country

Events commemorating the eighth anniversary since the death of dissident, playwright and former Czech president Vaclav Havel are took place across many cities across the Czech Republic this Wednesday.

In Prague, people were able to light a candle and listen to readings from Havel’s works on Jungmanovo Square. Later, a special mass in honour of the former president was heard in the Church of Our Lady of the Snows. In the evening several other events remembering Havel took place across the city, including a march to Prague Castle and speeches from Václav Havel’s friends and colleagues. Events were also taking place in regional cities such as České Budějovice and Ustí nad Labem.

Václav Havel died on December 18, 2011, at his country house in the village of Hrádeček located in the north east of Bohemia. He is seen as the icon of the Velvet Revolution which ended communism 30 years ago and served as president for three consecutive terms.

Lower house approves legislation allowing courts to sanction breeders guilty of animal cruelty

The Chamber of Deputies has voted in favour of a bill that would give courts the power to prohibit breeders from keeping animals for up to 10 years in cases of animal cruelty and up to 20 years for companies. A group of 80 MPs originally intended the legislation to increase the prison sentence for animal torture and their illegal breeding from five to eight years. However, the Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs rejected the proposal.

The new legislation is primarily aimed at individuals and companies who run commercial animal breeding facilities such as puppy farms. These animals are often held in small cages under unsanitary conditions. According to the State veterinary administration, cases of animal cruelty reports and convictions increased last year.

Christian Democrats will seek a repeal of new parental allowance bill at Constitutional Court

The Christian Democratic Party will seek to counter an increase in parental allowance, recently passed by the Chamber of Deputies, by an appeal to the Constitutional Court. Party Chairman Marek Výborný said that the new legislation is discriminatory because it does not concern all families with children up to the age of four. The appeal is currently being prepared and will be issued once President Miloš Zeman sings the bill and it comes into effect.

Parental leave is set to increase by CZK 80,000 in January. However, opponents say that the legislation will stop some 70,000 families, who have already used up their current allowance, from accessing the extra money.

Largest Czech online supermarket Rohlik.cz expands to Hungary

The largest Czech online supermarket Rohlik.cz has opened up a new online food store in Hungary. Called Kifli.hu, the website offers foodstuff deliveries in Budapest and the surrounding area. The founder of Rohlik.cz, entrepreneur Tomáš Čupr, says it is one of the most important events in the company’s history and hopes the new website will become the number one online food delivery store in Budapest within a year.

Mr Čupr founded Rohlik.cz in 2014. The company is currently active in seven Czech cities and has served over 1 million customers.

Czech mortgage rates fall for 10th month in succession

The average mortgage rate in the Czech Republic fell slightly to 2.35 percent in November, according to an index run by financial advisors Fincentrum. It is the 10th month in a row that home lending rates have fallen in the country.

Mortgages in the Czech Republic hit their lowest price, 1.77 percent, in December 2016 and have on the whole grown since then.

Weather

Meteorologists expect Thursday to be cloudy, with temperatures around 7 to 8 degrees Celsius. However they could reach as high as 14 degrees in Moravia and Silesia during the afternoon.