Daily news summary


Czech President names 15 new generals, again snubs BIS spy agency head

President Miloš Zeman on Wednesday promoted 15 men to the rank of general, but as expected declined to bestow the honour on Czech BIS counter-intelligence head Michal Koudelka, despite recommendations from the government.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) in October said that the Czech head of state had promised he would promote Koudelka. This marks the third time he has declined to do so.

President Zeman objects to charges made in the BIS annual report that spies from Russia and China are spreading disinformation in the Czech Republic with a view to influencing public opinion and engaging in economic espionage.

He has accused Koudelka and national cyber security bureau director Dušan Navrátil of putting the Czech Republic’s economic interests at “serious risk” by issuing “unfounded” warnings about Russian and Chinese influence.

In early March, Koudelka was presented with the CIA’s George Tenet award, which recognises international cooperation, at the US spy agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Babiš and Tusk discuss security, economic, funding, “dual quality” issues in Prague

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) and European Council president Donald Tusk held a working breakfast in Prague on Wednesday on the eve of an informal EU summit in Sibiu, Romania.

According to the Czech Government Office, the agenda was to focus on the EU Strategic Programme for 2019-2024, as well as security and economic issues.

Babiš told reporters after the meeting they had discussed how the European elections in late May could fundamentally shape the future of the EU, cooperation among Schengen countries, EU security, and migration.

He said they also discussed a Czech draft law that would fine companies for “dual quality” practices – selling inferior food and products here in similar packaging to better products marketed in states such as Germany and Austria.

Babiš said the most important thing was that Czechs have greater influence above all on how the country decides to use the EU funding it receives.

Czech actor Václav Postránecký dies after severe illness

The popular Czech actor Václav Postránecký died on Tuesday evening at the age of 75 of a severe illness, a National Theatre spokesman said. Some media reported he had cancer.

Postránecký had long been a member of the theatre ensemble, and was also a successful radio, television and film actor. He appeared in approximately 170 films, most made for television, including the Czech-German series "Circus Humberto".

He began his career as a child actor in Prague. In his later years, he taught at FAMU, the country’s most famous film school. From 2005 to 2011, he was president of the Actor Association.

President Zeman leads Vítkov ceremony marking end of WWII

President Miloš Zeman marked the anniversary of the end of World War II with a wreath-laying ceremony on Wednesday at the National Monument on Vítkov hill in Prague attended by Czech veterans.

Among the state officials and politicians in attendance were Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, Senate chairman Jaroslav Kubera and Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib, along with military figures such as Defense Minister Lubomír Metnar and Chief of General Staff Aleš Opata.

A pair of Gripen fighter jets flew over Vítkov ahead of the ceremony. The commemorative act was followed by a minute of silence for the fallen.

Retiring Czech goalie Petr Čech gunning for Arsenal win over Valencia

Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech is preparing to play in Spain on Thursday night in the second leg of the Europa League semifinal between his London club, Arsenal, and Spanish hosts Valencia.

In the first leg, the Gunners won 3-1 in London. The final will be played in Baku against the winner of the duel between Chelsea and Frankfurt.

Čech, 36, says he hopes that this – his last season on the pitch before retirement – will end in Baku. "I want to go to the final and raise one last trophy. I think Arsenal deserves it," he said.

Considered among the best goalkeepers of all time, Čech holds the Premier League record for fewest appearances required to reach 100 clean sheets.

Elton John bids Prague farewell on second leg of final tour

British singer Elton John performed in Prague on Tuesday night as part of the second leg of his ongoing “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour.

According to concert organisers, some 14,000 fans attended the show at Prague's O2 Arena.

The 72-year-old singer, who first performed in the Czech Republic in 1984, last appeared here in November 2016.

In total, the “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour consists of more than 300 shows across five continents.

Record low temperatures recorded at every sixth Czech weather station

Record low temperatures for the 8th of May were recorded at every sixth of the 150 weather stations in operation for at least 30 years, meteorologists said.

The lowest temperature of all on Wednesday morning, -8 degrees Celsius, was registered at the Kvilda-Perla weather station, although it did not break a record for that location.

Among the new record lows was a -3.8 degrees Celsius measurement at Vyšší Brod, in the Český Krumlov region, not reached since 1979.

Weather outlook

Thursday should be cool and cloudy with rain likely in the late afternoon in the southern Bohemian region and Moravia. Daytime highs should range between 14 to 18 degrees Celsius. Friday’s forecast is much the same.