Daily news summary
Babiš seeks to face charges over Stork’s Nest affair but decision delayed
Vote on immunity postponed
MPs were due to vote on Tuesday afternoon on whether to allow the police to press criminal charges against the prime minister and his deputy for the abuse of EU funds in connection with the Stork’s Nest complex. In the end, the decision was pushed onto the backburner. Mr. Babiš and Mr. Faltýnek had made the call for immunity to be lifted.
The prime minister has consistently denied any wrongdoing and said the affair was intended to force him out of politics. The previous Chamber of Deputies had stripped the pair of their immunity, also on their request, but they regained it with re-election in October. The prime minister and his close associate are accused of misusing 50 million crowns of EU funding for Stork’s Nest, a conference centre and farm south of Prague. On Tuesday Mr. Babiš sharply criticised a report on the matter produced by the European Anti-Fraud Office, known as OLAF.
Presidential candidates at odds over number of TV debates
The two candidates for the post of Czech president have not yet reached agreement on the number of television debates they will take part in before the second round of voting. Incumbent Miloš Zeman has proposed four on-air discussions, on the stations Nova, Barrandov, Prima and Czech Television.
However, his challenger Jiří Drahoš told Radio Impuls on Tuesday he would only participate in two debates, the number suggested by the president himself after Saturday’s first round vote count. He said he didn’t have time to take part in more because of his campaign schedule.
Mr. Zeman won 38.6 percent of the vote in the opening round, ahead of Mr. Drahoš on 26.6 percent. However, the latter has the backing of a number of defeated first round candidates. The run-off takes place on January 26 and 27.
Czechs mark 49th anniversary of sacrifice by Jan Palach
Czechs are marking the 49th anniversary of the death of student Jan Palach who set himself on fire on January 16, 1969, in protest to the growing public apathy to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. He died three days later; he was just 20 years old. A number of events were scheduled to honour his memory and sacrifice including a memorial ceremony at the Philosophy Faculty at Charles University on Tuesday afternoon.
Mankini-wearing Czechs meet with Borat actor Sacha Baron Cohen
Six Czechs who were arrested in the Kazakh capital of Astana in November of last year for disorderly conduct and fined roughly 60 euros have met up with actor Sacha Baron Cohen in London.
Baron Cohen is the creator of the fictional character Borat, who was emulated by the Czechs who wore his trademark neon green mankini.
The actor wrote on facebook that he met his Czech mates and had had a beer with them. The actor covered their Astana fine.
Mummies of the World to open in Prague
An exhibition entitled Mummies of the World will open in Prague’s Holešovice on February 1. It will continue until the end of June.
The mummies come from museums and private collections and will be exhibited together with artefacts from Egypt, Europe and South and North America.
The show will take up some 2,000 square metres of exhibition space, organizers revealed.
Snow and winds block traffic on main Czech motorway
Police have reported an accident on the main motorway between Prague and Brno in which more than 10 trucks and two cars were involved, according to preliminary reports.
Police said at least one person was injured in the accident.
Snowfall and high winds have complicated traffic in the area with the motorway blocked in both directions at some stages. Drifts have also blocked traffic on side roads.
Cloudy conditions with a chance of snow are expected on Wednesday. Daytime temperatures should reach highs of around 1 degree Celsius.