Daily news summary
Events being held in Czech Republic to mark anniversary of August 1968 and 1969
Events are being held in the Czech Republic marking the anniversary of August 21 in both 1968 and 1969. Czechoslovakia was invaded by Soviet-led troops on that date in 1968, while the following year a number of participants in demonstrations on the first anniversary were killed in clashes with Czechoslovak security forces.
The main memorial event on Wednesday will take place in front of Czech Radio, which was a focal point of defiance and violence in August 1968. Senior elected representatives and people who lived through that time are expected to attend.
The events of August 1969 are to be marked by a march from Wenceslas Square to Prague Castle organised by the group Million Moments for Democracy.
Dozens of other memorial events are also being held around the Czech Republic.
Lubomír Zaorálek is new Social Democrat nominee for culture minister
The former Social Democrat deputy chair Lubomír Zaorálek is the new nominee of the Social Democratic Party for minister of culture, Social Democrat leader Jan Hamáček announced at a press conference on Wednesday. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has said he has no problem with the choice. According to the Czech News Agency, Castle spokesman Jiří Ovčáček says that President Miloš Zeman agrees with the selection.
The president's office is currently identifying a suitable date for a meeting between Miloš Zeman and Mr. Zaoralek, after which the former will name him minister of culture.
Czech defence ministry to receive more money in 2020 budget
The Czech Ministry of Defence will receive an extra 1.2 billion in government funding next year, bringing its 2020 budget to CZK 75.5 billion. The further budget increase, was announced at a press conference by Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar after he met with Finance Minister Alena Schillerová on Wednesday morning. Mr. Metnar says the money will be spent on investments.
With this extra boost, the ministry, which is currently running a modernisation programme within the Czech armed forces, will receive CZK 8.8 billion more in funding next year compared to its current budget.
The country has previously pledged to reach the NATO member states defence spending target of 2 percent by 2024. Currently, military spending amounts to just 1.2 percent of GDP.
Nearly two dozen charged following countrywide police crackdown on tax evader group
Following a largescale operation in close to 60 sites across the Czech Republic on Tuesday, the police have now charged 23 suspects with tax evasion and organised crime, the Czech News Agency reports. All except two of the suspects are currently being held in custody.
Members of the elite National Centre for Combating Organised Crime cooperated with the Czech Customs Administration and ordinary police units in the crackdown, which is connected to suspicions of tax dodging worth hundreds of millions of crowns.
The suspects could face more than 10 years in jail if their connection to organised crime is confirmed.
Further droughts could cost country 1.6 percent of GDP, scientists warn
New research by scientists from the Water, Soil and Landscape Centre at the Czech University of Life Sciences suggests that another long-term spell of drought would result in an CZK 80 billion contraction of the Czech economy. Aside from financial effects, drought would also have an impact on population health and the environment. At a press conference on Wednesday the team suggested spending CZK 25 billion annually on preventative measures.
Researchers presented two scenarios of how the economy could be impacted by further droughts.
One scenario envisions a 25 percent decrease in the productivity of industries, such as textile or paper production, which are dependent on water supplies. In this case the economy would face a production capability decline between 0.9 to 1.6 percent of GDP.
The second scenario, counts on a 50 percent decrease that would cut production down by 2.8 to 4.8 percent of GDP.
Senate to hold three special conferences during November 1989 anniversary
On the occasion of the 30-year anniversary of the Velvet Revolution which led to the fall of communism in November 1989, the Czech Senate will hold three conferences, the speaker of the upper house Jaroslav Kubera told journalists on Wednesday.
These will not only focus on the Velvet Revolution, but two further events that took place during the last two months of 1989 – the canonisation of St. Agnes of Bohemia and the reestablishment of the Czech Scouts movement. According to Senate Speaker Kubera the reason behind organising the three conferences is the current relativizing of the values and heritage of November 17, 1989 and the Senate’s role as a guarantor of the constitutional order.
Slavia in good position to reach Champions League after win at Cluj
Slavia Prague have put themselves in a good position to reach the Champions League group stage after beating Romanian side Cluj 1:0 away in the first leg of their final qualifying round tie. The Czech side’s goal came from Lukáš Masopust in the first half, while in the second goalkeeper Ondřej Kolář saved a penalty and the hosts hit the woodwork. The second leg takes place in Prague next Wednesday.
Showers are expected to stop on Thursday with countrywide temperatures ranging in the mid-twenties. While in the west it is likely to be completely sunny, meteorologists predict more clouds in Moravia, Silesia and Southern Bohemia.