Daily news summary

Communists seek ouster of ministers of foreign affairs, transport, health

The Communist Party, whose support Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s (ANO) minority government relies upon, is pushing for the ouster of three ministers.

Party leader Vojtěch Filip told journalists after a meeting of the Communist executive committee on Friday that they want to see Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats) replaced, along with Transport Minister Dan Ťok and Health Minister Adam Vojtěch (both on the ANO ticket).

Among other things, Mr Filip claimed that Minister Petříček has been acting contrary to the national interest and in violation of international law as regards his policy towards Venezuela, by pushing for recognising interim president Juan Guaidó as the country’s legitimate leader.

As for the transport minister, they object to his handling of the D1 motorway expansion, search for a toll supplier, and an attempt to sell ČD Cargo, part of Czech Railways.

The Communists have threated to withdraw their tolerance of the minority ANO-Social Democrat government on several occasions if their demands were not met. Mr Filip and PM Babiš are due to meet for talks next week.

Police receive three suits vs. President's chancellor over judicial independence

A Prague district prosecutor's office has received three lawsuits filed against the Czech president’s chancellor, Vratislav Mynář, all of which concern possible efforts to influence court decisions.

Chancellor Mynář is alleged to have tried repeatedly to influence judges in key courts to take decisions on cases relating to the Office of the President or in which President Miloš Zeman had a vested interest.

The three separate lawsuits were filed by Senator Václav Láska of the liberal Senátor 21 caucus, the NGO platform Rekonstrukce státu (State Reconstruction), and an unidentified citizen.

The prosecutor's office has forwarded them to a police unit specialised in fighting corruption and organised crime to determine whether to pursue charges against Mr Mynář for interfering with judicial independence.

Czech cyber watchdog confirms warning against Huawei

The National Cyber and Information Security Agency has reiterated its warning that Huawei and ZTE products should not be used in Czech critical infrastructure. The agency sent its reply to Huawei on Thursday, following the company’s request for a cancellation or modification of its statement originally issued in December last year.

Huawei said the warning was in violation of international law and has threatened the Czech Republic with an international lawsuit. The Czech government asked critical infrastructure administrators to analyse the risks posed by using Chinese hardware and software in January.

ÚSTR issues biographical encyclopaedia of high-ranking ČSSR Communist Party members

The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (ÚSTR) has published a biographical encyclopaedia profiling Czechoslovak Communist Party functionaries and leaders active in the years 1921 to 1989.

Petr Anev, co-editor of the 1,500-page publication, said it provides readers with a concise overview of 326 subjects’ lives, careers and fates.

Nearly 50 Czech and Slovak historians from various universities, archives and other institutions collaborated with the Prague-based institution on the two-volume work.

Pixar exhibition gets underway in Prague

An exhibition of artworks from one of the world’s most renowned animation studios, Pixar, gets underway at Prague’s Holešovice Exhibition Grounds on Friday. Called Pixar - 30 Years of Animation, the exhibition showcases hundreds of original drawings, from the early animated shorts to Toy Story and The Incredibles.

The American Animation Studio was founded in 1979 and has since produced 20 feature films, including Finding Nemo or Ratatouille, co-written by Czech-British animator Jan Pinkava.

Pixar’s official touring exhibition, which has already been shown all around the globe, will be on display in Prague until May 26.

Czech GDP growth seen slowing to 2.7 percent in 2019

Czech economic growth should slow to about 2.7 percent this year, down from 3 percent in 2018 and 4.5 percent in 2017, a survey of economists by the ČTK news agency shows.

Their comments came following the release of preliminary GDP data by the Czech Statistical Office on Friday.

Analysts told ČTK that economic growth slowed in the last quarter of 2018 as output was affected by slowing export demand from the euro zone.

Czech GDP growth remains double the EU average. Rising inflation and a weaker crown suggest that the Czech National Bank may raise rates at its next policy-setting meeting in March, the analysts predict.

Czech billionaire’s CMI finalises purchase of Lagardère titles, including Elle

Czech Media Invest (CMI), co-owned by billionaire Daniel Křetínský, has finalised its purchase of Lagardère group’s magazine titles in France, including the flagship title Elle, France Dimanche and Ici Paris.

In connection with the sale, CMI has been granted an exclusive licence for the Elle brand covering France although Lagardère group remains the owner of the Elle brand in France and abroad.

Czech Media Invest announced last year it had paid 52 million euros for a minority stake from Matthieu Pigasse, a French banker and co-owner of Le Monde. Mr Křetínský’s expanding group also bought major radio stations in the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania.

Weather outlook

Saturday should be clear and warm throughout country with daytime highs of 8 to 12 degrees Celsius.