Daily news summary
Zeman accuses ex-justice minister of pandering to foreign power
President Miloš Zeman has lashed out at former justice minister Robert Pelikán for allowing the extradition of Russian hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin to the United States in 2018. In an interview on TV Barrandov, Mr. Zeman said that the former justice minister was not supposed to “act like a servile subaltern official, who panders to a foreign power”.
The statement came following a ruling by the Constitutional Court, which stated that the Ministry of Justice had erred in the decision to extradite Mr. Nikulin before a definitive resolution regarding his asylum application, including a subsequent judicial review, had been made. The former minister has so far refused to comment on the issue.
Yevgeniy Nikulin was arrested in Prague in 2016 on an American warrant. The US Embassy subsequently asked the Czech Republic do extradite the suspect, who is accused of hacking major internet firms.
Babiš: Czech exports should be promoted under one umbrella
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has criticized what he describes as the current splintered state of Czech export promotion. In a statement made on Friday at the Dubrovnik 16+1 Summit, Mr. Babiš said that state agencies such as CzechTrade and CzechInvest should merge in order to create a more effective umbrella group that would support export efforts. The Czech prime minister likened the current situation to an eternal struggle between rival ministries.
The Dubrovnik 16+1 Summit is the 8th meeting of Central, Eastern and Southern European heads with their Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang and other business delegates.
Slavia loses 1:0 to Chelsea in Prague after strong performance
Slavia Prague lost 1:0 in their home game to Chelsea in Thursday’s first-leg of the Europa League quarter-finals. The Czech team, which is currently in high-form, held the score level for most of the game. It was only in the 86th minute that Chelsea wing-back Marco Alonso managed to score what would end up being the only goal of the game, securing Chelsea a hard-fought win away from home.
Both Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri and British newspapers praised the aggressiveness of the Czech team, which made the away team’s defence sweat.
In Thursday’s second leg, Slavia will have to score at least one goal at Stamford Bridge in order to have any hope of advancing into the semi-finals.
Interior Ministry lowers anti-corruption funding
The Ministry of the Interior has decided to lower its funding for NGOs focused on combating corruption, Czech Radio reported on Friday. A total of CZK 4 million is set to be moved from the ministry’s programme for preventing corruption into other areas, such as transport security and drink driving prevention. The ministry has justified its decision on the basis of a change in priorities. However, a report by Czech Radio highlights that the government’s anti-corruption strategy for the years 2018–2022 promised to increase funding on anti-corruption projects by 20 percent.
NGOs offering free judicial advice are expected to be affected the most. The director of the Czech branch of Transparency International, David Ondráčka, said he believed the move could be the consequence of his organisation’s exposure of politicians’ conflicts of interest and affairs within government parties.
Thieves use medieval weapon in South Bohemian robbery
Police are investigating a case in the South Bohemian city of Tábor where a group of thieves used a mace while breaking into a man’s house. The owner managed to defend himself and the mace was left at the scene after the robbers ran away. South Bohemian police are currently searching for the owner of the 50cm long object, whose head is covered in protruding wooden spikes.
Czech media have been quick to pick up on the irony that the mace attack took place in Tábor; it was the ancient capital of the mediaeval Hussites and their leader, Jan Žižka, is often depicted holding the weapon in his hand.
Neolithic houses uncovered in surprise discovery near Chrudim
Archaeologists made a surprising discovery while working near a motorway construction site in the vicinity of the Eastern Bohemian town of Chrudim. They found the remains of up to five Neolithic houses, with well-preserved outlines. Archaeologist Jan Musil from the Chrudim Regional Museum told the Czech News Agency on Friday that the discoveries are a textbook example of Neolithic architecture.
Czech photographer places second in World Press Photo’s sports category
Czech photographer Michal Hanke has placed second in the sports category of the prestigious World Press Photo Exhibition. He entered the contest with a photo called ‘Never Saw Him Cry’, capturing the captain of the Czech Republic Para Ice Hockey team, who has been in a wheelchair since 2003.
The top prize went to U.S. photographer Getty Images photojournalist John Moore for a photo showing a 2-year-old child crying while her mother, a Honduran asylum-seeker, is detained by U.S. border agents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Finále Plzeň film festival gets underway
The Finále Plzeň film festival, devoted to Czech and Slovak film production, got underway in the west Bohemian town on Thursday evening with a screening of a documentary called ‘A Journey Like no Other’, following the footsteps of famous Czech travellers Hanzelka and Zikmund.
The 32nd edition of the festival will offer 124 screenings. Thirty-five films will be competing for the main prize, the Golden Kingfisher, in five different categories. The festival will continue until April 16.
Saturday will be cloudy with rain across most of Moravia and Silesia. Temperatures are set to hover between 6 to 9 degrees Celsius.