Daily news summary
Babiš: Chinese ambassador lied over “Huawei meeting”
The Chinese ambassador to Prague, Zhang Jianmin, lied about a meeting he had with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš just before Christmas, the latter says. Speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Mr. Babiš said both the Czech government and state had behaved correctly with regard to a warning from the National Bureau for Cyber Security and Information that products made by Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE presented a security risk.
After the PM met Mr. Zhang the Chinese Embassy issued a statement saying that the warning was unfounded and that it took cognizance of the fact the Czech side was striving to make amends for its errors in this regard. This was subsequently interpreted as an apology from the head of the Czech government.
Mr. Babiš on Sunday described this suggestion as “nonsense and a lie”. He told Czech TV that the Czech Republic was a sovereign state and had nothing to apologise about, adding that Mr. Zhang’s actions were highly unorthodox.
The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, is due to meet the Chinese ambassador to discuss the matter, the PM said.
Minister Ťok incapable of selling achievements, says PM
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says the minister of transport, Dan Ťok, has been unable to sell the results he has attained. Speaking in a Czech Television interview on Sunday, Mr. Babiš said that there had been unprecedented investment and motorway construction since he had been in government.
However, the prime minister conceded that his cabinet had not handled ongoing repair of the country’s biggest motorway, the D1, well.
Mr. Babiš had previously said that Mr. Ťok needed to get tough with subordinates in order to get results. He has not ruled out a cabinet reshuffle this year.
Prague authorities want building where Palach died turned into museum
Prague City Hall has opened negotiations aimed at buying the building where Jan Palach died with a view to it being turned into a museum of totalitarianism, the news website deník.cz reported. The now rundown former Borůvka Sanatorium on Legerová St. is also where priest Josef Toufar died after being tortured by the communist-era secret police.
The current owners of the building, which is a short walk from the National Museum, received permission last year to convert it into a luxury hotel.
Prague’s mayor, Zdeněk Hřib of the Pirate Party, told deník.cz that the city would abandon its plan if the owners demanded an excessive sum for the property. The Prague 2 authorities say the location, where traffic is very heavy, would be inappropriate.
Up to now a space beneath where a statue of Stalin stood on Letná Plain has been in the frame to house a new museum of totalitarianism.
Ministry wants sanctions for late supply of medicines
A lack of certain medicines is impacting patients and doctors in the Czech Republic, Czech Television reported. In response the Ministry of Health aims to introduce stiff financial penalties for pharmaceutical suppliers who make deliveries two or more days late.
However, the Pharmacy Chamber says such measures would be unnecessary. Its leaders argue that it would be sufficient to bar the export of specific drugs from the Czech Republic more frequently.
At present there is a shortage of the heart medicine Digoxin, though it is expected to appear in Czech pharmacies next week after the distributor decided to import it from Slovakia. Standard supplies will resume at the start of February.
Czech Communists to hold “yellow vests” protest in Prague
Czech Communists are to hold a protest at which participants will wear high-visibility yellow vests in central Prague on January 26, the news website Lidovky.cz reported. The Communist Party and other groups have called the demonstration against the high cost of housing, water, electricity and gas.
A representative of the Prague branch of the Communist Party said they would not pretend they had not taken inspiration from France, where “yellow vest” protests – initially against a rise in duties on diesel – have been taking place since the middle of November.
Very low temperature warning issued for east of country
Temperatures could fall to as low as minus 13 degrees Celsius in the east of the Czech Republic on Sunday night, according to a warning issued by the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute.
People in some parts of the Moravian Silesian and Zlín regions have been advised to dress appropriately, while forecasters say that children, the elderly and the sick should spend as little time as possible outdoors.
Plíšková takes 12th title of career in Brisbane
The Czech Republic’s Karolína Plíšková has won tennis’s Brisbane International in Australia. The one-time world number one, who is 26, overcame Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 4-6 7-5 6-2 in Sunday’s final for the 12th title of her career. Tsurenko twisted her ankle in the deciding set.
Plíšková also began 2017 with victory in Brisbane. Her latest win means she will now climb above compatriot Petra Kvitová to seventh in the world rankings.
Monday is expected to see bright spells and some snow in the Czech Republic, with daytime highs of up to 0 degree Celsius. More snow is due for at least another week.