Daily news summary

Defence Ministry wants greater powers in defending cyber-security

The Defence Ministry wants greater powers in defending the country’s infrastructure against cyber attacks, the news site idnes reported.

Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar has prepared an amendment to the law on military intelligence which would allow military experts to trace and pre-empt cyber strikes effectively.

A similar proposal was rejected by Parliament earlier due to concerns regarding invasion of people’s privacy.

Minister Metnar argued that at a time when the functioning of the state depends on computer networks it is essential to protect hospitals, nuclear power stations, banking systems and other key institutions effectively.

The proposed amendment is to be debated in government in the coming days.

Social Democrats against plan to cut jobs in public sector

The Social Democrats of the ruling coalition oppose the finance minister’s plans to cut the number of state employees by 10 percent next year in view of the slowing economy.

Jan Chvojka, head of the party’s deputies club in Parliament said following a meeting with trade union leader Josef Středula, who is likewise vehemently opposed to the plan, that the Social Democrats would take up the issue with their coalition partner.

He said that while his party recognizes the need for cost-cutting measures they should not be across the board, but systematic and well-justified.

Finance Minister Alena Schillerová proposed the move in view of keeping next year’s budget deficit down to 40 billion crowns.

Czech MEP says she has list of child refugees whom Czechia could help

Czech MEP Michaela Šojdrová from the Christian Democratic Party says she has secured a list of child refugees currently housed in Greek refugee camps whom the Czech Republic could help.

Šojdrová, who some time ago suggested that the Czech Republic should take in 50 unaccompanied child refugees as a gesture of solidarity, is recently back from a trip to Greece where she went to ascertain the possibility of providing such assistance.

Her efforts have been frowned upon by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš whose government has resisted efforts to take in migrants. Mr. Babiš recently said he would prefer to help these children in their homeland by building a housing facility, school and sports centre for them in what he called “their own cultural environment”.

TOP 09 and STAN to run on one ticket in European elections

The centre-right TOP 09 and the party of Mayors and Independents (STAN) have agreed to join forces for the European elections in May.

TOP 09 leader and MEP Jiří Pospíšil, who has spearheaded a drive for centre-right parties to unite in opposing populist and anti-EU forces, confirmed the news on Tuesday, saying an agreement on cooperation with the Mayors and Independents would be signed next week.

He refused to say whether he would head the joint candidates list. The two parties have cooperated in the past, both in general elections and elections to the European Parliament.

Czech state misled EC, may have provided illegal support in coal miner OKD sale, Pirate MP says

The Czech state likely provided illegal public support when selling its minority stake in coal miner OKD in 2004, the opposition Pirate Party says.

MP Lukáš Černohorský, head of a parliamentary commission investigating the OKD privatisation, said the state sent the European Commission false and misleading information about the sale.

OKD was sold to Karbon Invest for 4.1 billion crowns, less than half the market value, critics say. Later in 2004, RPG Industries, controlled by now billionaire Zdeněk Bakala, became majority owner of Karbon Invest.

According to Mr Černohorský, the EC relied on background documents submitted to it by then Ministry of Finance led by Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats) – and prepared by Mr. Bakala’s lawyer, Radek Pokorný.

At the same time, the EC dismissed a complaint by BYTYOKD.CZ, an association of tenants of flats linked to OKD.

Czech courts have acquitted all suspects, i.e. experts and former National Property Fund officials, of wrongdoing. But the verdict is not final, since the state attorney has appealed it.

Prague ready to loan Slav Epic to Moravský Krumlov

The Prague City Council has offered to loan the famous Slav Epic cycle of paintings by Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha to Moravský Krumlov for a period of five years if the local authorities can secure the funds needed to restore the premises where the outsize paintings would be shown.

The two cities have disputed the right to house the famous paintings since 2010, when they were moved to Prague, despite the fact that the city is still looking for a permanent exhibition site for them.

The paintings were at the centre of a drawn-out ownership dispute with the painter’s grandson John Mucha, but last year the Prague Municipal Court definitively ruled that they rightly belong to Prague to whom the painter donated them in 1928.

Weather forecast

Wednesday should be overcast with rain and day temperatures between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius. Night time lows can drop to – 3 degrees Celsius.