Daily news summary
Supreme State Attorney rejects decision to halt prosecution of PM Babiš over subsidy fraud
Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman has rejected a decision by the Prague state attorney, a subordinate, to halt the criminal investigation into whether Prime Minister Andrej Babiš illegally acquired two million euros in EU subsidies for his Stork’s Nest complex a decade ago.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Mr Zeman said the case of Prime Minister Babiš and his close business associate Jana Mayerová would be returned to the Prague State Attorney’s office, while the investigation of Mr Babiš family members would be definitively halted.
Mr. Babiš is suspected of having manipulated the status of the farm and hotel compound in order to acquire an EU grant intended to support small and medium-sized businesses.
The Prague State Attorney’s Office in September halted the four-year-long investigation of Mr Babiš and members of his family, justifying the decision by saying that at the time of receiving the subsidy, the Stork’s Nest centre fulfilled the respective conditions to meet the grant.
European Commission audit requires Czechia pay back CZK 284 million of funding for Agrofert
The European Commission audit, which finds Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to be in a conflict of interest over EU subsidies paid to the Agrofert holding he founded and placed in a trust fund two years ago, asks the Czech Republic to pay back close to CZK 284 million (around EUR 11 million) of funding provided by the EU to Agrofert, Czech Radio’s news site iRozhlas reported on Tuesday, basing the information on a passage of the confidential document that iRozhlas has managed to secure.
Some media outlets say they have already managed to secure the audit. According to Deník N and the investigative site Neovlivní, Czechia will have to pay back 100 percent of the funding which Adrofert received after February 9, 2017 – the day that new legislation on conflict of interest, sometimes known as “Lex Babiš”, was put into use. The grand total, the two papers say, encompases mistakes committed in the payouts of specific subsidies and is therefore around CZK 451 million. Some politicians have said that the Czech state should try to claim this money from Agrofert.
Average wage up by 6.9 percent in Q3
The average gross monthly salary in the Czech Republic increased by 6.9 percent in the third quarter of this year to CZK 33,697, according to data released by the Czech Statistics Office on Wednesday.
In real terms, taking into account inflation, wages increased by 4 percent.
However, two thirds of employees earn less than the average wage.
The median wage, a midway between the highest and the lowest levels, was CZK 29,549, up by 6.7 percent compared to the same period last year. Some percent of employees earned wages between CZK 15 680 and CZK 52 531.
Books most popular present among Czechs, according to survey
Three quarters of Czechs are planning to gift at least one of their friends or relatives a book for Christmas, according to a survey conducted by polling agency STEM/MARK for Czech Television. Most usually they are gifted by women and people who have achieved high school education. Meanwhile households with an income lower than CZK 20,000 do not tend to buy books for Christmas. Especially popular are so-called interactive books, which require participation and interaction by the reader, and scrapbooks, Czech Television reports.
The Painted Bird nominated for Satellite Award
Václav Marhoul’s film The Painted Bird has been nominated for a Satellite Award, presented by the International Press Academy. The winners should be announced in February 2020.
The film, which premiered in Venice this year, was selected in the International Motion Picture category alongside the Korean Parasite of the Spanish Pain and Glory.
The Painted Bird was also selected as the Czech Republic’s official Oscar entry in the international feature film category.
Historical T3 tram to commemorate first free elections
A historical T3 tram covered with revolutionary posters from 1989 will be running through Prague over the course of next month, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution and the first free elections in 1990.
The historical tram from the early 1960s will be running along the city’s nostalgia line through Charles Square and past Prague Castle.
A similar tram covered with revolutionary posters and signs was used by the late president Václav Havel during his first presidential campaign following the Velvet Revolution.
Thursday is expected to be partly cloudy with daytime highs ranging between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius.