Daily news summary

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PM Babiš: Czech carbon neutrality would cost CZK 675 billion

Achieving carbon neutrality in the Czech Republic would cost some 675 billion crowns, something that the EU should take into account in the next EU budget period, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) tweeted on Wednesday.

His assertion came following a meeting with Minister of Environment Richard Brabec (ANO), State Secretary for European Affairs Milena Hrdinková, and the head of power utility ČEZ, Daniel Beneš.

According to Babiš, they have agreed on a strategy for the European Council in Brussels that starts on Thursday and will focus on the bloc’s aim to be carbon neutrality by 2050.

He further reiterated his assertion that the country cannot achieve carbon neutrality without boosting nuclear energy production.

By 2050, nuclear energy could form about one half of the Czech energy mix, and coal and natural gas about 20 percent each.

‘Million Moments’ hold anti-Babiš rally on Prague’s Wenceslas Square

The initiative “A Million Moments for Democracy”, which is calling for Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) to step down over alleged corruption and conflicts of interest regarding EU funds and subsidies, held another mass rally on Tuesday.

Police estimate around 50,000 people turned out for the demonstration on Prague’s Wenceslas Square while ‘Million Moments’ put the figure at 80,000 demonstrators.

The initiative has held a series of protests against Babiš since late April, when Czech police proposed that he be charged with EU subsidy fraud. Their largest demonstration, in mid-November, drew some 300,000 people.

1-in-5 Czech hospitals, clinics hit by ransomware attacks this year

The ransomware attack early on Wednesday that disabled the computer system of a hospital in Benešov, central Bohemia, is far from an isolated incident, the Czech News Agency (ČTK) reports.

This year, one in five Czech healthcare facilities have been subject to attempted blackmail by hackers demand ransom money to unencrypt data, the agency says, citing Kaspersky antivirus statistics.

The Benešov hospital had to postpone planned operations and turn away new patients due to the cyberattack, and some of its equipment and services remain offline.

Court dismisses suit by ex-Prague National Gallery head over ouster

A Prague district court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the former of Prague National Gallery head Jiří Fajt over his dismissal from the prestigious post.

Fajt claimed his eventual successor, Ivan Morávek, had no power to sack him when he was the nominal interim director.

Morávek had been chosen to lead the Prague National Gallery by the outgoing Minister of Culture, Antonín Staněk (Social Democrats).

His sacking of Fajt, as well as then Olomouc Museum of Art head Michal Soukup, was viewed by critics as politically motivated.

US Embassy honours People in Need’s Šimon Pánek with Alice Masaryk Prize

The US Embassy in Prague has honoured Šimon Pánek, a Velvet Revolution student leader and founder of People in Need, one of the largest humanitarian aid NGOs in the region.

Pánek was presented with the Alice Garrigue Masaryk Prize on International Human Rights Day. The distinction, named after the American-born wife of the first Czechoslovak president, is awarded to personalities for their work in that area.

People in Need (Člověk v tísni) is an internationally recognized Czech humanitarian organisation active in the fields of humanitarian aid, development and education.

Pánek founded the NGO in 1988 by organising a collection to aid victims of a devastating earthquake in Armenia.

Recently, Russia’s Ministry of Justice declared the Czech NGO “undesirable”, effectively banning it from operating in that country.

Řeporyje to build memorial to Vlasov troops who helped liberate Prague

The local Council of Prague’s Řeporyje district unanimously voted to erect a memorial to the fallen solders of the Russian Liberation Army (Vlasovci), who took part in the liberation of Prague from Nazi Germany during the final days of World War Two. The monument should be finished in 2020, on the 75th anniversary of the war and, according to the local mayor Pavel Novotny, will be protected by a camera surveillance system and anti-graffiti coating. The Russian embassy in Prague and Russian diplomacy had previously objected to the construction of the monument. The Russian embassy in Prague has protested against the construction of the memorial in recent weeks, calling it an “absolutely mad initiative” which helps reincarnate Nazism.

The Russian Liberation Army was a military unit made up of citizens of the Soviet Union, often desperate prisoners of war, who had been recruited to fight on the German side during the last years of the war.

Miloš Forman’s Amadeus added to US Library of Congress Film Registry

Czech-American director Miloš Forman’s 1984 biopic Amadeus is among the films added to the US Library of Congress’ National Film Registry this year. Each year the Registry adds 25 films, chosen for their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to America’s film heritage.

Forman left Czechoslovakia for America after the Soviet-led invasion of 1968 and became a naturalized US citizen in 1977.

Amadeus is considered among the best films of all time. It received 40 awards, including eight Oscars (including the Academy Award for Best Picture), four BAFTAs, four Golden Globe Awards, and a Directors Guild of America award.

Slavia loses 1:2 to Dortmund in its last Champions’ League game this season

Slavia Prague lost 1:2 against German side Borussia Dortmund in Tuesday’s last round of Champions’ League group stage matches. Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho put the home team in the lead in the 10th minute, but Slavia’s Tomáš Souček managed to equalise just before the end of the first half. Despite chances, Slavia was not able to put another goal in the net and Julian Brandt scored the winner for Dortmund in the 61st minute.

Slavia finished bottom in the table, five points behind third placed Inter Milan, losing four games and drawing two. However, the Czech team’s performance has been viewed by many Slavia fans as dignified in view of the elite teams the Prague side had to face. Meanwhile, Dortmund’s victory means the team has qualified for the knockout phase along with Barcelona.

Weather outlook

Thursday should be mostly cloudy throughout the country with light snow or freezing rain likely in Bohemia. Daytime highs should range between –1 to 5 degrees Celsius.