Daily news summary
Demonstrations held in 11 cities over election of Communist MP Ondráček to chairman post
Demonstrations were held in 11 cities and towns in the Czech Republic on Monday against the election of Communist MP Zdeněk Ondráček as chairman of the lower house committee that oversees the General Inspectorate of the Security Services, which investigates police crimes. His election took place on Friday; 79 of a 155 MPs present voted in favour.
Mr Ondráček was a member of a riot police unit that beat protesters during Palach Week in January 1989, preceding the Velvet Revolution which brought down the communist regime in Czechoslovakia in November of that year. His election to the post not only caused a broad outcry but led the prime minister in resignation, Andrej Babiš, to say he will push for his removal.
Demonstrations began at seven pm but petitions were available for signing two hours earlier. Sites posted photos of large crowds of demonstrators coming together on Wenceslas Square, some waving Czech flags and others carrying signs with slogans against the committee head and against the Communist Party. Some of the protesters also laid blame with the prime minister with signs saying he "had to go". Some unofficial estimates put the crowd size in Prague alone as at least ten thousand.
Protestors are meeting in Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Liberec, České Budějovice, Písek, Jihlava, Olomouc, Plzeň, Hradec Králové, and Rožnov pod Radhoštem.
Czech tourist dies while vacationing in Egypt
A 39-year-old Czech tourist died of heart failure last week while vacationing in Hurghada, Egypt, while his six-year-old son was hospitalised with respiratory problems, news site iDnes reports. The spokeswoman for the Czech Foreign Ministry confirmed that the tourist was taken to hospital after falling ill and treated in intensive care. The man died the next morning.
According to the news site, both the father and son had contracted fevers with breathing problems in the days prior. The child suffered no additional difficulties. His mother and another sibling, who were also on the vacation, have given consent for the deceased’s body to be repatriated to the Czech Republic later this week.
iRozhlas: Russian businessman with majority stake in Czech-based aircraft company among those named in US Treasury Dept. list
Russian businessman Iskander Makhmudov, the majority owner of Aircraft Industries (formerly Let Kunovice), a producer of civilian planes in the Czech Republic, is named among a group of influential Russian oligarchs on a list compiled by the US Department of the Treasury, Czech Radio’s iRozhlas reports.
The Russian has had a controlling stake through the mining concern UGMK in 2013, the news site said. The producer in Kunovice counts the Czech Army as one of its clients. The firm itself has not commented.
The list of influential business figures and politicians with apparent ties to the Kremlin was published by the US in January, after the US Congress ordered the list to be compiled for alleged meddling in the US presidential election in 2016. The list was reportedly drawn up from open sources including Forbes.
Number of counterfeit notes uncovered drops
In 2017, the authorities uncovered 2,850 counterfeit banknotes and coins in various currencies and denominations, 22 percent fewer year-on-year and the lowest number since 1990. The number of fake Czech banknotes and coins dropped by 814 to a total of 1,318; the number of counterfeit currency was 1,532, 18 more year-on-year. The news was confirmed at a press conference by a representative of the board of the central bank.
The bill was often copied was the Czech 2,000 crown note.
Twentieth One World documentary festival kicks off in Prague
The 20th edition of the One World international festival of human rights-themed documentaries gets underway in Prague on Monday. This year’s One World will show 128 films and welcome over 100 guests from around the world.
The opening film will be The Cleaners, a German picture that looks at the work of anonymous content moderators on social networks.
One World is also featuring a competition of Czech documentaries for the second time. Highlights are set to include When the War Comes, which explores a Slovak militia group, and Nothing Like Before, a coming of age film set in the Czech border regions.
NHL: Mrázek, Philly, lose third straight
Czech hockey goalie Petr Mrázek may have gotten off to a three game winning start with his new NHL club the Philadelphia Flyers but a three game skid has followed, including a 7-6 loss against in the shootout to Tampa Bay at the weekend and a 4-1 defeat by the Florida Panthers on Sunday.
The only Czech to get on the board in the NHL on Sunday was forward Tomáš Hyka, called up from the farm team for Las Vegas: he earned an assist in the Golden Knights’ 3-2 win over New Jersey.
Mostly cloudy conditions are expected on Tuesday with a chance of snow. Daytime temperatures should rise to above 0 to around 3 degrees Celsius.