Daily news summary


President Zeman dismisses claim he voiced support for Ruthenian independence

President Miloš Zeman has dismissed claims that, during a meeting with representatives of Ukraine’s Ruthenian community in Prague last week, he had supported their demand for independence.

Mr. Zeman said such claims, made by some Ruthenian activists, were utter nonsense, and that he had merely expressed the view that decentralization might help alleviate tension in the Transcarpathian region.

He said he meets with Ruthenian representatives because they were part of Czechoslovakia’s history.

The Czech Republic’s ambassador to Ukraine, Radek Matula, was summoned to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry over the matter.

According to official data there are approximately 10,000 Ruthenians living in this region of Ukraine, but its members, who do not have the status of a minority, say the figures are underrated.

Ukraine considers Ruthenians a pro-Russian colony which threatens the integrity of the country.

Konev statue to be replaced by memorial to liberating army

The controversial statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev will be replaced by a statue commemorating the soldiers who liberated Prague in 1945, the district administration of Prague 6 decided at its session on Thursday. In line with the proposal approved, the Konev statue will be moved to a suitable new site in Prague. A proposal by the Pirate Party to hold a referendum on the fate of the statue was rejected.

The open session, at which members of the public were able to have their say, is reported to have been stormy, with supporters of the statue calling for the mayor’s dismissal. The mayor said that while he had the utmost respect for the soldiers who had liberated the country from Nazi oppression, the Red Army had not only brought peace to the country, but in later years terror as well.

President Zeman says China’s boycott of Czech culture “unwise, but understandable”

President Miloš Zeman has said he does not consider it wise of the Chinese authorities to boycott Czech cultural events in China, but that he understands their reason for doing so.

Speaking on a visit to Belgrade, the Czech head of state, who has made a big effort to further Czech-Chinese ties, said that the mayor of Prague, Zdeněk Hrib, had “sown the wind, and the whole country was now reaping the whirlwind”.

Mr. Zeman said the Prague mayor was clearly under the impression that he could mould his own foreign policy rejecting the principle of “One China” at Prague City Hall, which was not the case.

In 2016 the then Czech government, which under the Czech Constitution is responsible for moulding the country’s foreign policy, set the ground for a more pragmatic policy line in relation to China signing an agreement on bilateral cooperation that pledged to respect the “One China policy.”

PM: Artificial intelligence is the country’s future

Artificial intelligence is of immense importance to the Czech Republic since it is the future of the Czech industry, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said at a conference on artificial intelligence and ethics organised by the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague.

Mr. Babiš said that the process of robotization, which was already underway, would in time help resolve the ongoing labour shortage which is holding back many Czech companies.

He said the Czech Republic was one of the leaders in artificial intelligence and was up to the challenge of hosting a European intelligence centre in Prague.

The prime minister added that the idea had received support from the other Visegrad Four states.

A final decision is expected at the start of next year and the centre is expected to start operating within a matter of months.

Czech singer Karel Gott suffering from acute leukaemia

The Czech Republic’s most famous pop singer Karel Gott is suffering from acute leukaemia and is undergoing out-patient treatment at the General University Hospital in Prague, according to a message posted on his Facebook account. Mr. Gott says that his doctors discovered a haematopoiesis disorder a year and a half ago, which has developed into leukaemia in the last few months.

The singer, who turned 80 earlier this year, has had health problems in the past. In 2016 he successfully underwent chemotherapy due to an outbreak of cancer. In July, he had to cancel his performance at the Benátská Festival in Liberec, where he was planning to celebrate his birthday.

Weather forecast

Friday should be clear to partly cloudy with day temperatures between 21 and 25 degrees Celsius.