Daily news summary


Soc Dems confirm Culture Minister candidate, give chairman mandate to exit gov’t

The Social Democrat leadership agreed on Monday to support party chairman Jan Hamáček’s mandate to negotiate whether to remain in the minority government of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO). They also confirmed their choice for culture minister.

Some Social Democrats have been calling to exit the government due to a long-running dispute over replacing Minister of Culture Antonín Staněk, himself a member of the centre-left party.

The crisis stems in part from President Miloš Zeman’s refusal to sack Staněk, who critics accuse of being ineffective, and replace him with the Social Democrats’ preferred candidate, Michal Šmarda.

Monday’s vote of 37-5 with the presidium gives Hamáček room to manoeuvre through the political crisis without explicit backing from top party leadership. A member of the party leadership said the next steps will be decided by the end of July.

Last week Hamáček said that President Zeman had communicated to him in a meeting that he is ready to accept the resignation of Staněk by 31 July. But the president did not clearly state that he would respect the Social Democrats’ decision regarding Šmarda.

Prague reaches leasing deal with Krč landowners on Metro D line

Prague councillors have reached an agreement with private land owners in Krč needed to further construction of the city metro’s planned D line.

Under the agreement, the city should pay the owners about 10 million crowns a year to lease the land along the metro route.

The first part of the D line will connect to Prague’s C Line at Pankrác, with four more stations continuing south including two in the Krč district.

Eventually the line – which may feature driverless trains – will run from Pankrác in central Prague to the as yet unbuilt Depo Písnice in the south, before being extended later.

Physicists, including five Nobel Prize winners, in Prague for int'l conference

Five Nobel Prize winners and more than 160 other physicists from around the world are in Prague this week for a conference on Quantum and Mesoscopic Thermodynamics.

It is the seventh edition of the event, organized by the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.

Among the most prominent speakers are Nobel Laureates William Phillips, who discuss findings on so-called super-cool atoms; Rainer Weiss, who will talk about the origins of gravitational astronomy.

Several lectures are open to the public while others will be available online. The conference ends on Saturday with a section dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

Prague to buy Church of Sts. Simon and Jude for CZK 99 million

The Czech capital has agreed to buy the Church of Saints Simon and Jude, which now serves as a concert hall for the Prague Symphony Orchestra.

The Gothic church was built in the 17th century and adapted in High Baroque style. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Joseph Haydn are among the famous composers who have played the organ later installed there.

Prague councillors agreed to buy the church for 99 million crowns, after negotiating the asking price down from 126 million crowns.

101 railway crossing accidents, 20 deaths reported this year

101 railway crossing accidents have been reported so far this year, resulting in 20 deaths, according to a statement by the Rail Safety Inspection Office.

The statement was released in the wake of the accidental death of a family of four at the weekend.

The family, which included two small children, died at a crossing near Hradec Králové, equipped only with a light signal system.

Czech researchers discover new ant species in Papua New Guinea

A research team led by the Czech entomologist Milan Janda has discovered several species of ant on the Papua New Guinean island of Bougainville.

Janda told the news agency ČTK that the team discovered the new species while documenting the diversity of ants on the island in the southwestern Pacific, including invasive species.

He said the island is teeming with plants, insects, and other organisms yet to be scientifically documented.

Prague dance and theatre festival Zero Point marks 10th anniversary

Prague’s week-long Zero Point Festival (Nultý bod), which showcases provocative and unexplored dance and theatre genres, is celebrating its tenth anniversary.

It gets underway on Monday night with nine performances at Divadle v Celetné theatre that organiser say aim to shock and provoke the audience.

Among the most prominent guest of this year's edition is Canadian dancer and choreographer Dana Michel, whose piece Cutlass Spring explores boundaries of the human body and sexuality.

Among the Czech troupes is Tantehorse, who will perform a staging of an escape game focused on the lives of people living in the Czech border regions known as the Sudetenland.

PPF’s Home Credit to list on Hong Kong Stock Exchange in USD 1bn IPO

Czech financial group PPF’s global consumer lender arm Home Credit has filed for a listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange, the company announced on Monday.

Home Credit has appointed Citigroup, HSBC Holdings, and Morgan Stanley to lead the initial public offering expected to exceed at least USD 1 billion.

Founded in 1997 by Czech billionaire Petr Kellner, Home Credit operates in 10 countries including the United States, Russia and India. It is among the biggest non-bank consumer lenders in China.

ČLK: Over 3,200 foreign doctors working in Czech Republic

Just over 3,200 foreign doctors are currently working in the country, according to data from the Czech Medical Chamber (ČLK).

Slovaks are by far the most numerous, with an estimated 2,800 working here. There are also hundreds of Ukrainians, Russians, Poles and Belarusians.

The proximity of Slavic languages and poorer working conditions in their home countries are said to be the main factors for the influx.

Weather outlook

Tuesday should be partly cloudy throughout the country, with occasional light rain likely in the north-western mountains. Daytime highs should range between 21 to 25 degrees Celsius.