Daily news summary
“Dangerous” Russia a threat to Czech Republic and EU, says Czech foreign minister
The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, has described Russia as “dangerous”. In an interview with Czech Radio, Mr. Petříček said Moscow was increasingly assertive and represented a danger as it was spreading disinformation and employing various hybrid threats.
The minister, who was appointed last month, said Russia was a genuine risk to the Czech Republic and other European Union states, adding that reports of the threat posed by Moscow from the Czech intelligence service ought to be taken very seriously.
Mr. Petříček said the Czech Republic should not “wait with its hands on its lap” but should tackle such threats more effectively. He said it was necessary to boost strategic communication and the combating of disinformation within the framework of the EU.
Army chief Opata visits Czech soldiers in Iraq and Mali
The chief of the General Staff of the Czech Army, Aleš Opata, visited Czech troops in Iraq and Mali between Wednesday and Friday. In Iraq General Opata met instructors from the Czech chemical forces, military police and regular police, as well as flying instructors teaching local pilots in the use of Czech-made jets.
While in Mali the Czech Army chief met soldiers in the capital Bamako tasked with providing protection to a European Union training mission, a spokesperson for the General Staff told the Czech News Agency.
Thousands demonstrate against government in Prague
Thousands of people demonstrated in central Prague on Friday evening, calling for the resignation of Andrej Babiš’s ANO-led government. The crowd gathered at Prague Castle and marched to Old Town Square, which was almost full, repeating the scene at a similar demonstration on November 17. The event was organised by Milion chvilek, a group that has held a number of protests against Mr. Babiš’s this year.
The gathering took place shortly after the ANO government survived, as anticipated, a no-confidence vote. It was tabled by the opposition over a scandal surround Mr. Babiš’s son, who says he was taken to Crimea against his will so as not to be available to answer questions in an investigation involving the PM and alleged corruption.
Civic Democrats chief: Early elections closer after recent events
The chairman of the opposition Civic Democrats, Petr Fiala, says Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has so many personal and family problems that he is unable to concentrate on serving the country. He told Saturday’s edition of newspaper Právo that recent events mean that the Czech Republic has moved a step closer to early elections.
The Civic Democrats were one of a number of opposition parties that tabled a no-confidence vote in the ANO-led government after Mr. Babiš’s son sparked a scandal by saying he had been taken to Crimea to “disappear” during an investigation involving the PM and alleged corruption.
Mr. Fiala told Právo the defeat of the no-confidence vote had not been a foregone conclusion. He said the junior party in the coalition, the Social Democrats, had displayed cowardice by not taking part in the show of hands.
The Social Democrats have also pledged to work to dissolve the lower house in certain circumstances and this is reason to believe the current government cannot last much longer, Mr. Fiala said.
Poll places ANO on 29.5%, Civic Democrats on 14.5%
Government leaders ANO would have won elections in November with 29.5 percent of the vote, virtually the same as they achieved in the last general elections, suggests a freshly released CVVM poll. Most respondents answered the survey prior to November 12, when a scandal surrounding ANO leader Andrej Babiš’s son broke.
The Civic Democrats placed second in the poll on 14.5 percent, just ahead of the Czech Pirate Party on 14.0 percent. Some 10.0 percent of those surveyed would have cast their ballots for the Communists, with 9.0 percent backing the Social Democrats, the junior party in the governing coalition. Freedom and Direct Democracy would achieve 7.5 percent, the poll indicated.
Forecasters warn of up to 20 cm of snow in some areas next week
Up to 20 centimetres of fresh snow could fall in South Bohemia, Vysočina and north-eastern parts of the Czech Republic on Monday, the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute has warned. Most of the snow will be in highland areas but it will also be seen in some low-lying parts.
According to a regular four-week forecast issued on Saturday, temperatures in the coming week should hover just above 0 degrees Celsius during the day. While those values will be below average, the following weeks are expected to see average daytime highs for the time of year. Precipitation will also be around average for most of the coming month, forecasters predict.
Sunday should be overcast in the Czech Republic, with temperatures of up to 5 degrees Celsius. Daytime highs should drop to around freezing point by the middle of next week.