Daily news summary


Prosecutor's Office explains decision to drop Stork’s Nest case against PM Babiš

The Prague Prosecutor's Office has published documents regarding its decision to halt a four-year-long investigation into suspected EU fraud by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) and members of his family.

In the 90 pages of documentation, which are in large part redacted, prosecutor Jaroslav Šaroch explains the reasoning behind his decision to end the investigation.

Mr Babiš was alleged to have illegally acquired 2 million euros worth of EU subsidies meant for small companies by temporarily changing the status of his Stork’s Nest farm and conference centre, over a decade ago.

Most opposition politicians said they respected the Office’s decision but expected to see it thoroughly justified. Among them was TOP 09 leader Jiří Pospíšil, who tweeted that that the Office has reverse itself in only 1 percent of cases.

V4 defence ministers meet in Ostrava ahead of NATO Days

The defence ministers of the Visegrad Four countries were holding talks in Ostrava on Thursday, within the framework of the annual NATO days. It is their first session under the Czech Republic’s presidency of the V4 group.

The heads of defence of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary are discussing common defence policy and development, mutual support in cross-border military missions, as well as working towards a unified approach within NATO and the EU.

NATO Days are being held this weekend at the Ostrava military airport, presenting military equipment to the public. Last year, 220,000 people attend the event.

Prague court acquits ex-StB worker of harassing Charter 77 signatories

The Prague 4 District Court has acquitted former Communist-era secret police (StB) official Václav Novotný of harassing two Charter 77 signatories as part of operation ‘Prevention’. The verdict is not final and an appeal is likely.

Mr Novotný, who acknowledges having worked for the StB but denies the charges, has been accused of arranging in 1978 for two dissidents to lose their disability pensions, as part of the secret operation.

The Charter 77 signatories in question were former television editor Otta Bednářová and the wife of another journalist, Jiřina Kynclová.

Hundreds of opponents of the communist regime in Prague and the Central Bohemia were targeted in operation ‘Prevention’, which aimed to complicate their lives at work and at home.

In some cases, StB workers arranged for dissidents to be stripped of their pensions, have their driving licenses revoked or telephone lines disconnected. Many were sacked or demoted at work.

Czech Ombudsman: Proper care and nutrition for elderly, dementia patients lacking

Suitable care for people with dementia and seniors in general is lacking, Ombudsman Anna Šabatová said in a press release on Wednesday.

Meals served in hospitals, long-term care facilities and retirement homes were lacking nutrition, and patients and clients lacked sufficient privacy. In some cases, the level of hygiene was also problematic, the Ombudsman said.

As for patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia, social services and retirement homes were often ill-equipped to meet their needs. Ms Šabatová said she had also encountered cases where patients likely were administered sedatives to prevent them from moving.

The Ombudsman said her assessment was based in part on her own visits to 149 facilities for seniors and 18 hospitals for long-term patients over more than a decade.

Prague 3 rejects Eva Jiřičná design for new Žižkov high rise

A design by top Czech architect Eva Jiřičná for a high rise development in Prague’s Žižkov district currently home to a former telecom building has been rejected by local town hall councillors.

The final decision rests with the full Prague City Council. The site is located within what a Conservation Zone, where strict construction and renovation rules apply.

The conservation group Club for Ancient Prague had criticised the designs by Ms Jiřičná for three undulating high-rise apartment buildings, the largest of which would be over 100 metres high.

reSite conference gets underway in Prague

The 2019 reSite conference, focusing on urbanism and the rethinking of public space, gets underway in Prague on Thursday. Over the course of the next two days, the event will be hosting dozens of guests from all around the world, including leading architects and urban planners. The main theme of the eighth edition of reSite is ‘Regenerate’.

Post Office cancels auction of Prague’s Smíchov monastery

The Post Office has again cancelled the auction of a former monastery it owns after no bidder met the starting price of just over 353 million crowns.

The Post Office has been trying the sell the former St. Gabriel Monastery and Church of the Annunciation in Prague’s Smíchov district for years.

The monastery, completed in 1891, was designed in pseudo-Romanic style by Benedictine friars from Belgium. It served mainly Benedictine nuns until 1919, when they were forced to leave for Austria.

Weather outlook

Friday should be partly cloudy throughout most of the Czech Republic, with the sun shining brightest in northern and southern Bohemia. Daytime highs should hover around 14 degrees Celsius.