Daily news summary
Czech Pirates suing EU over delay in PM Babiš’s conflict of interest case
The Pirate Party plans to sue the European Commission for failing to decide on complaints over the alleged conflict of interests of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) regarding EU subsidies to the holding Agrofert.
The European Commission has conducted an extensive audit at Czech ministries regarding the subsidies amounting to some two billion crowns for Agrofert, which Mr Babiš founded but has placed in trusts.
Transparency International warned of Mr Babiš’s possible conflict of interest last year, saying he continued to benefit from the holding despite. Czech authorities were set to receive the results of the audit in mid-May.
The Pirates said in a press release on Friday it will file its suit at the European Court of Justice. The opposition party says the European Commission should have decided on the matter already in January and claims it is giving Mr Babiš preferential treatment.
Czech man accused of involvement in terrorist attack in Donetsk
A court in Pardubice is hearing the case of a Czech man accused of involvement in a terrorist attack on the territory of Ukraine in 2015.
The man allegedly visited Ukraine in the summer of that year and joined in the fighting on the side of separatists in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic.
He joined the Czech Army soon after his return, but failed to pass psychological tests and was given a menial job in the force.
He claims he is innocent of the accusations, saying that he had made up stories and bragged about his time in Ukraine to friends.
Nationwide Festival of Museum Nights opens in Karlovy Vary
The annual Festival of Museum Nights opens in the West Bohemian spa town of Karlovy Vary on Friday night. Between now and June 8th over 500 museums and cultural institutions in 158 towns and cities will open their doors to the public on a selected night.
Museums pull out all the stops for the annual event organizing special exhibitions, lectures, film-screenings, art competitions and concerts for visitors.
Museums in the Moravian metropolis of Brno will open their doors to visitors on Saturday night. The city of Prague which has 52 museums and galleries is at the end of the marathon with Prague Museum Night scheduled for June 8th.
US Senator trying to block sale of Bell, GE military helicopters to Czechia
US Senator Rand Paul will try to block the sale of helicopters to the Czech Army, despite the sale having been approved by the US State Department in early May.
The Republican lawmaker from Kentucky has put forward several resolutions in the upper house of Congress to prohibit the agreed sale of military equipment also to Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
The Czech Army is looking to buy 12 combat or multipurpose helicopters from the American companies Bell Helicopter and General Electric. According to the Czech Embassy in Washington, Senator Paul’s chances of stopping or delaying the sale are slim.
Czech gov’t projects 2.4 pct GDP growth in 2020, driven by household demand
The Czech government expects economic growth to be driven mainly by rising household demand in 2020. According to the draft Convergence Programme submitted to the European Commission, Czech GDP should grow 2.4 percent next year, down from nearly 3 percent growth in 2018.
According to projections released earlier in May by the Czech National Bank, however, the economy should grow by 2.5 percent in 2019 and 2.8 percent in 2020.
Analysts warn the risks are skewed in the direction of weaker growth, mainly due to slowing industrial production and external demand.
Czech Sev.en Energy sells coal-fired stations to Swiss electricity producer Alpiq
Swiss electricity producer Alpiq has agreed to sell its two Czech coal-fired power stations to Sev.en Energy, owned by investor Pavel Tykač, the companies announced on Friday.
The Swiss buyer paid 280 million euros for the plants in Kladno, central Bohemia; and Zlín, southern Moravia.
It said the units can use a fuel mix that includes biomass and two flexible gas turbines, in line with EU environmental standards.
Munifesto Film Festival celebrates Masaryk University centenary
A film festival being held in tandem with the 100-year anniversary of the founding of Masaryk University kicks off in Brno on Friday.
The three-day Munifesto Film Festival will feature 19 screenings leading school personalities in education and other fields, as well as student films.
Among those invited is filmmaker Martin Huba, who directed a biopic of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the first Czechoslovak president.
Ice Hockey: Czechs rally against Latvia 6-3, next face Italy
The Czech national hockey team rallied against Latvia on Thursday night. Down by two goals in the first period, they scored four times in a row in the second one, and put the Group B game away. The final score was 6-3.
Although in third place in Group B with nine goals in total, the Czechs still have a good shot at making the quarterfinals. On Friday they next face Italy, the weakest team in the world championship.
Tennis: Plíšková, Vondroušová advance to WTA quarterfinals in Rome
Czech tennis players Karolína Plíšková and Markéta Vondroušová have made it to the quarter-finals of the WTA tournament in Rome.
Plíšková on Thursday defeated the American Sofia Kenin in three sets, by a score of 4: 6, 6: 4 and 6: 3. Vondroušová beat the Russian Darja Kassatkina, also in three sets, by a score of 7: 5, 2: 6 and 6: 2.
Meanwhile, Petra Kvitová is out of the tournament due to a calf injury. in the second round she forfeited to Greek qualifier Maria Sakkari.
The cool spell of recent days is expected to break on Saturday, with average daytime temperatures of between 19 to 22 degrees Celsius and partly cloudy skies. Rain is expected on Saturday.