Daily news summary
PM Babiš to hold confidence vote on July 11
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has said his centrist ANO party and the centre-left Social Democrats plan to sign a coalition agreement on Tuesday, and the Communists will sign a separate agreement the same day to tolerate his minority government.
Mr Babiš will hold a confidence vote on Wednesday. ANO and the Social Democrats have only 93 seats in the 200-member lower house of Parliament and so will need the support of the Communists to win the vote.
Bark beetle infestation worst in over 200 years
The Czech Republic’s largely coniferous forests are facing the worst bark beetle infestation in at least 200 years. The lower house of Parliament is due on Tuesday to discuss both emergency and long-term measures to combat the voracious insect, which kills spruce trees.
The amount of spruce wood damaged by bark beetles has risen steadily in the past few years, from 2 million cubic metres of spruce wood in 2015 to more than 5.5 million cubic metres in 2017. Experts are warning that the nation’s forests could be wiped out if the current monoculture forestry format is not unchanged.
“Barbarians” wins Crystal Globe at Karlovy Vary film fest
Romanian director Radu Jude was awarded the Crystal Globe for Best Feature Film at the 53rd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival for his story of a director who refuses to compromise with Holocaust deniers.
Jude’s film, entitled “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians”, conveys a little-known chapter of WWII in which the popular Romanian general Ion Antonescu led a massacre of Jews. It also ingeniously updates Hannah Arendt’s incisive work on the banality of evil.
The Grand Jury also awarded two Special Mentions, one for the Russian co-production film “Jumpman” and one for the Slovenian co-production film “History of Love”. The East of the West Award went to a distinctive debut by Elizaveta Stishova “Suleiman Mountain”, an original account of the life in Kyrgyzstan.
A Special Jury Prize in the East of West Competition was granted to Hungarian film “Blossom Valley”. The new film by Vitaly Mansky “Putin’s Witnesses”, also made in co-production with the Czech Republic, won the Documentary Films Competition. The Documentary Special Jury Prize was awarded to the film “Walden”.
Prague archbishop vows to fight “scandalous” tax on restituted church property
Cardinal Dominik Duka, the archbishop of Prague, has called the incoming ANO-Social Democrat coalition government’s plans to tax restituted church property "scandalous" and pledged to sue in court to prevent it from happening.
Under a 2012 agreement on compensating churches for property seized by the Communists, over a period of 30 years the churches would receive 75 billion crowns worth of land and property and nearly 60 billion crowns in compensation.
The Communists have conditioned their support for the minority coalition government of Prime Minister Andrei Babiš, which faces a confidence vote on July 11, on its support for the tax.
PM says Justice Minister should probably resign if plagiarism charges are true
Minister of Justice Taťána Malá (ANO) should probably resign if it is proven that she plagiarised sections of her university theses, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said on Saturday. The matter is due to be discussed on Monday at a party meeting.
Czech Radio reported last week that Ms Malá’s thesis on family law contained uncited passages from another student’s published work and in one instance she even copied text verbatim that included the original typographical errors.
Mr Babiš earlier had said that the accusations were part of a campaign against her and argued that she should be given a chance to prove her worth as justice minister.
Bikers’ Parade through Prague marks 115th anniversary of Harley-Davidson
Thousands of Harley-Davidson enthusiasts rode through Prague on Saturday in a Bikers' Parade to mark the 115th anniversary of the founding of the iconic American motorcycle company.
An estimated 60,000 bikers, mainly from Europe, came to the Czech capital for the celebration, which includes a four-day exhibition at the Výstaviště fairgrounds in Holešovice that wraps up on Sunday.
“Smetana's Litomyšl” festival draws record numbers
“Smetana's Litomyšl”, an annual international opera festival celebrating the works of Czech composer Bedřich Smetana, sold more than 29,000 tickets, a new record.
Now in its 60th year, the eclectic festival is a paradise for classical music lovers but also features everything from jazz to folk music.
Festival director Jan Pikna said there were 41 shows over the 24 days of the festival. Counting all visitors, including those who came to see free accompanying programmes, more than 35,000 attended, he said.
Monday should be mostly cloudy and moderately windy with daytime temperatures of between 23 and 27 degrees Celsius. Light showers are likely throughout the southern half of the Czech Republic, including Prague.