Daily news summary

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BIS: Disinformation from pro-Russian activists most serious threat

The spreading of disinformation by pro-Russian activists was the most serious threat to the constitutionality of the Czech Republic last year, the country’s BIS counterintelligence service says in an annual report issued on Tuesday.

In recent years such players have been agitating in an increasingly intensive and systematic way against the political structure in the Czech Republic and the country’s membership of the EU and NATO, the report states.

The report says those circulating pro-Moscow disinformation tend to be from various nationalist and populist movements and include parties and individuals. Some of them were previously active in the domestic anti-immigrant movement.

BIS also said that China was intensifying its espionage activities in the Czech Republic, with all of it main intelligence services in operation here in 2018.

China has targeted its activities at the academic community, the security forces and the state administration and has sought to recruit Czechs as agents, the report says.

Opposition praises BIS while Zeman spokesperson slams “attack on free speech”

Leaders of opposition parties in the Chamber of Deputies praised the work of the BIS counterintelligence service after it released a report highlighting the activities of disseminators of pro-Russian disinformation in the Czech Republic.

The head of the Mayors and Independents group, Jan Farský, said, however, that the work of the counterintelligence was being complicated by President Miloš Zeman, who has repeatedly refused to promote BIS chief Michal Koudelka to the rank of general.

Mr. Zeman’s spokesperson, Jiří Ovčáček, said it was wrong of BIS to dub those with alternative outlooks as peddlers of disinformation. He said this was an attack on free speech.

Police launch prosecution of pre-1989 Communists over border shootings

The Czech police’s Office for the Documentation of the Crimes of Communism have initiated the prosecution of three senior figures from the pre-1989 Communist regime. One-time Communist Party general secretary Miloš Jakeš, former prime minister Lubomír Štrougal and ex-interior minister Vratislav Vajnar are accused of abuse of office in connection with the use of firearms on the borders of the then Czechoslovakia, a representative of the Prague 1 state attorney’s office, Jan Lelek, said on Tuesday.

The three top Communists were aware the border patrol service were using guns to shoot people crossing the border without authorisation but did nothing to stop them, Mr. Lelek said.

The Office for the Documentation of the Crimes of Communism said that because of the inaction of the three officials between 1976 and 1989 nine people were either shot dead or killed by dogs while attempting to cross the border into the West; at least seven others were injured.

Russia slams planned Prague monument to collaborationist ‘Vlasov Army’

The Russian Embassy in Prague has criticised plans to erect a monument in the capital’s Řeporyje district to the so-called Vlasov Army, whose leader was hanged by the Soviets for collaborating with the Germans during World War II.

The Russian Embassy said in a press release building such a monument would constitute a violation of the Czech commitments to the 1968 Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, defined at the Nuremberg trials.

At the start of the war, General Andrei Vlasov commanded the Red Army on the Smolensk front. After being captured, he embraced the German cause and went on to lead a collaborationist force comprised mainly of former Soviet prisoners of war.

By February 1945, his “army” – which had only one fully formed division – fought briefly on the Oder Front before switching sides and helping the Czechs liberate Prague from Nazi occupation in early May 1945.

Coal Commission to prepare scenarios for ceasing Czech mining

Working groups of the so-called Coal Commission expect to draft plans to end coal mining in the Czech Republic sometime after 2030 onwards in order to reduce C02 emissions. The scenarios should be ready in January.

The Czech Republic is the fifth-biggest polluter in Europe and the 20th in the world in terms of CO2 emissions, and the key reason is the share of coal-fired power plants in the country’s energy mix.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has said new nuclear power units must be built, even if in breach of European law, to offset the loss of electricity generated by coal.

The Coal Commission advisory board is co-chaired by the ministers of environment and industry, and includes experts appointed by relevant stakeholders, including industry, labour unions, NGOs and communities in coal-producing regions. Some members expect the coal-exit to take place in 2040 at the earliest.

Šebrle offers reward for help finding lost Olympic medal

The former athlete Roman Šebrle is offering CZK 100,000 for help in finding the gold medal he won in the decathlon at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Šebrle, who turned 45 on Tuesday, said he lost the medal – his only Olympic gold – three years ago.

Now a TV presenter, Šebrle was also crowned world champion, in 2007, and was a two-time European champion. He also held the world points record for the decathlon for several years.

Weather forecast

Wednesday should be cloudy and wet with daytime highs of up to 7 degrees Celsius. Similar weather is expected in the following days, though temperatures should climb slightly.