Daily news summary

Over 136,000 sign on to Million Moments for Democracy ‘challenge’

Over 136,000 people have signed an online petition or ‘challenge’ by protest group Million Moments for Democracy calling on politicians and ordinary citizens to ensure a flourishing democracy.

The petitioners want politicians “who respect democratic norms and institutions, do not lie or steal, and have no conflicts of interest”. Signatories pledge to “care about others and the state of society, assuming their share of responsibility” for the country to be “free and just”, among other things.

The petition was announced at a Million Moments for Democracy rally on Saturday marking the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution attended over 250,000 people.

In late February the group launched a petition specifically calling on Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) to resign for allegedly not respecting the aforementioned principles. So far, that petition has 433,000 signatories.

Czech Medals of Merit for Diplomacy awarded to 12 people

Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats) on Monday honoured 12 people for their contributions to diplomacy, including nine who worked to ensure a successful transition to democracy after the Velvet Revolution.

Several of the recipients were honoured in memoriam. They included the first post-communist foreign minister, Jiří Dienstbier Sr., who was awarded a posthumous Medal of Merit for Diplomacy, and the late German diplomat Klaus Kinkel, honoured for advancing Czech-German relations.

Medals of Merit for Diplomacy were also handed to former Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) and former Czech Ambassador to NATO Karel Kovanda, who had been named awardees in March but were not then available to receive them.

Honoured for their post-Velvet Revolution diplomatic work were Slovak actress Magda Vašáryová, who served as Czechoslovak ambassador to Austria, and Jiří Gruša, a long-time ambassador to both Germany and Austria.

In addition, Felix Kolmer and Tomáš Kosta, both survivors of Nazi concentration camps who were involved in the process of reconciliation between Czechs and Germans, were also awarded.

Czech PM, trade minister, business delegation to visit Ukraine

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) is heading to Ukraine on Monday evening for a two-day trip aimed at furthering bilateral trade and showing support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression.

Babiš will be accompanied by Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček (for ANO) and a delegation of 85 Czech entrepreneurs, led by Czech Chamber of Commerce chairman Vladimír Dlouhý.

In Kyiv, Babiš is due to meet his Ukrainian counterpart, Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk, as well as President Volodymyr Zelensky.

He will place particular emphasis on discussing the Ukrainian government’s efforts to put in place reforms and integrate into European Union structures.

Prague to remove Jewish tombstone fragments now paving pedestrian zone

Prague City Hall agreed on Monday to sign a memorandum pledging to remove fragments of Jewish tombstones used as cobblestones in the city centre and return them to the community.

Pedestrian zones on Prague’s high street Na Příkopě and at the base of Wenceslas Square were repaired under Communism in part using tombstones from a derelict 19th century Jewish cemetery in Chomutov.

The work was reportedly carried out ahead of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit to Czechoslovakia in 1987.

The Jewish community, which has for years called for the fragments to be removed, plans to deposit them in the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague’s Žižkov district. A project called "Finding the Lost Face of Jewish Cemeteries" will try to help identify the fragments.

Ex-lobbyist Marek Dalík granted conditional release from prison

Marek Dalík, a former lobbyist convicted of trying to solicit a bribe in connection with a military hardware contract while an advisor to the then prime minister has been granted conditional release from prison.

Dalík was sentenced to five years in prison for seeking a bribe of CZK 50 million from the US-owned Austrian arms maker Steyr in 2007 to smooth a deal for the Czech Army to buy its Pandur armoured personnel carriers.

The District Court in Znojmo on Monday conditionally released Dalik from prison with a probationary period of five years. He has served half of his prison term.

Memory of Nations awards honour those who showed courage towards Eastern Bloc regimes

The annual Memory of Nations awards, which honour participants in the turning points of 20th century history, were handed out in the National Theatre in Prague this Sunday on the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. This year, most of the recepients were from the former Eastern Bloc countries that neighboured Czechoslovakia.

Hungarian political prisoner László Regéczy-Nagy, Polish Solidarity leader Wladyslaw Frasyniuk, German political prisoner Dietrich Koch, Slovak actress Dalma Špitzerová, and Czech Miroslav Hampl, who helped prisoners in uranium mines, all received the award - a silver medal depicting a lion.

Christian Democrat leader may resign in wake of wife’s death

Christian Democrat party leader Marek Výborný may be stepping down for personal reasons. His wife died suddenly in late September, and he has three small children to care for.

The opposition party has called a meeting for Tuesday to discuss the situation. Výborný was only elected party chairman in March. He replaced Pavel Bělobrádek, who had held the post for eight years.

Tripartite fails to agree on 2020 minimum wage level

Representatives of the government, businesses and employee unions failed to agree on what the minimum wage should be in 2020, Minister of Labour Jana Maláčová (Social Democrats) announced on Twitter.

Maláčová said she has therefore asked Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) to convene representatives of the coalition government to agree on the level as soon as possible.

Unionists have demanded the minimum wage increase by 1,650 crowns next year for full-time workers to 15,000 crowns a month. Employers have agreed to an increase of 700 crowns at most.

Hundreds bid final farewell to Jan Stráský, Czechoslovak’s last PM

Some 300 people have turned out to pay their respects to Jan Stráský, the last prime minister of federal Czechoslovakia, who died this month at the age of 78.

Following the break-up of Czechoslovakia, among other things, Stráský was a regional governor of Central Bohemia. An avid hiker and biker, he later led Šumava National Park and the Czech Tourists Club.

Among those attending Monday’s ceremony at Prachatice cemetery was former premier and president Václav Klaus, who paid tribute to Stráský’s political acumen and integrity.

Czechs lose to Bulgaria 0-1 in last match of EURO 2020 qualifiers

The Czech national football team lost 0-1 to Bulgaria in their last game of the EURO 2020 qualifiers, which took place in Sofia on Sunday. The only goal of the match was scored by a header from Vasil Bozhikov in the 56th minute. The goal was allowed, despite replays suggesting it may have been scored from an offside position.

The match took place without any audience due to the fact that Bulgaria had been given a two match stadium ban after fans' racist behaviour during their previous game with England.

The result had no effect, as the Czechs had already qualified for the European tournament after beating Kosovo 2:1 on Thursday. They finished second in their group, six points behind England.

Weather outlook

Tuesday should be mostly cloudy throughout the country. Daytime temperatures should range from 9 to 13 degrees Celsius.