Daily news summary

Charles U. suing President Zeman for not appointing professors, ‘violating’ academic freedom

Charles University has filed administrative appeals against President Miloš Zeman for not appointing two academics as professors in a case going back several years.

Rector Tomáš Zima told reporters on Monday that the university believes the president has violated rules governing the appointment of professors and principles of academic freedom.

In the spring of 2015, President Zeman failed to appoint physicist Ivan Ošťádal and historian Jiří Fajt as professors at Charles University, referencing the candidates’ past.

In Mr Ošťádal’s case, he cited the physicist’s alleged ties to the communist –era secret police, the StB. In Mr Fajt’s case, it related to a compensation plan at the National Gallery.

President Zeman has also refused to appoint a professor candidate who teaches at the University of Economics in Prague. His spokesman said that academic Jan Eichler had worked in the propaganda unit of the Czechoslovak People’s Army.

A court overturned President Zeman’s decision regarding the three academics last year and said it was not the place of the Czech head of state to decide who would be a professor.

Žít Brno politician ‘not guilty’ of slandering President Zeman with claim of terminal cancer

A politician from the group Žít Brno did not commit a crime when he claimed in a Facebook post this November that the Czech President has terminal cancer, the state prosecutor has ruled.

Brno councillor Svatopluk Bartík had been under police investigation for possibly slandering President Miloš Zeman when he said the head of state suffered from cancer and had only a few months to live.

The president’s doctors denied the claim, and the Office of the President filed a criminal complaint against Mr Bartík, along with a demand for a public apology and 5 million crowns in compensation.

Prague Castle cannot appeal the decision on slander but will proceed with civil proceedings, the president's spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček, said in a tweet on Monday.

Council of Europe: Czech efforts to combat money laundering fall short

The Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering body Moneyval says in a new report that Czech efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, while improving, still fall short of CoE standards.

The Moneyval report praised Czech authorities for carrying out a transparent and realistic analysis of the money laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CFT) risks that the country faces and for actively cooperating with their foreign counterparts.

But the Council of Europe organ said Prague need to take a more proactive approach in preventing such crimes, including by launching more investigations, when warning signs first appear.

Money laundering in the Czech Republic occurs mostly due to tax crimes, fraud, corruption, phishing, and subvention frauds, according to Moneyval. The financing of terrorists here is well monitored and likely quite low, it said.

Police file fraud charges over Czech utility ČEZ purchase of Ševětín solar plant

Police will charge five people with fraud in connection with the sale of a giant solar plant to state-controlled utility ČEZ nearly a decade ago, Czech Radio reports, citing the state prosecutor.

Prague-listed ČEZ bought the Ševětín photovoltaic power plant, the country’s third largest, from the opaque company Gentley in 2010.

Apart from the multi-billion crown sale price, said to have been twice the market rate, ČEZ paid over 100 million crowns to supply companies and other entities in dubious contracts, the police organised-crime unit allege.

According to Radiožurnál, the police earlier filed criminal charges against one current and one former ČEZ manager, three people from the company Mapra and another from IES Recycling.

Traditional Chinese Medicine centre in Hradec Králové closing

A clinic of traditional Chinese medicine operating within the Hradec Králové hospital in eastern Bohemia since September 2015 will close at the end of February.

A spokesman for the centre, which has treated thousands for chronic pain through acupuncture and other Chinese techniques, said current legislation did not allow for it to continue operating at the site. But he said its work would be carried on elsewhere by the Traditional Chinese Medicine Endowment Fund.

Minister of Health Miloslav Ludvík (Social Democrats) has said traditional Chinese medicine can become an appropriate supplement to Western treatments and to modern medical approaches.

The Czech Medical Chamber and other professional medical groups have lobbied against giving traditional Chinese medicine the same standing and criticised having such a centre located within a state hospital.

Sale prices of older Czech flats rose by one-third in 2018, to 80k per sqm in Prague

The sale prices of older Czech apartments grew by 32 percent on average in 2018, to just under 53,000 crowns per square metre, data from the real estate server Bezrealitky.cz show.

In Prague, the average price per sqm for an old flat stood at over 80,000 crowns. According to earlier figures released by a group of prominent developers, for new apartments, the average price per sqm was just under 102,000 crowns.

Bezrealitky.cz, which lists sales by owners not using an estate agent, says 8,000 residential homes were sold via the server last year. In total, the sale price exceeded 27 billion crowns, or 60 percent higher than in 2017.

Zeman says Trump meeting is unlikely

The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, says he is unlikely to get a meeting with Donald Trump. He made the comment in a radio interview and cited the US ambassador to Prague, Stephen B. King. Mr. Zeman said that like the US president he was regarded as a “Russian agent”. What’s more, some of his views do not chime with those of current American policy, the Czech head of state said.

Not long after Mr. Trump was elected, Mr. Zeman, one of the few European leaders to publicly back him, said he had invited him to the White House.

Holders Czech Republic exit Fed Cup in first round

Defending champions the Czech Republic were knocked out in the first round of the Fed Cup at the weekend. The Czechs lost 2:3 on matches to Romania in Ostrava after Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková were beaten in the decisive doubles rubber by Irina-Camelia Begu and Monica Niculescu.

It was the first exit in the first round since 2008 for the Czech Republic, who won the Fed Cup six times in the last eight years.

Weather outlook

Tuesday should be partly cloudy with occasional light snow throughout the country, with the exception of northern Moravia. Daytime highs should range between 0 to 4 degrees Celsius.