Daily news summary
Babiš and Faltýnek called to appear before immunity committee
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his ANO senior party colleague Jaroslav Faltýnek have been invited to appear before the lower house’s immunity committee on January 9. Investigators and the state attorney have also been invited to the meeting, which will focus on allegations that Mr. Babiš and Mr. Faltýnek unlawfully acquired around CZK 50 million in EU subsidies. They deny any wrongdoing.
The last Chamber of Deputies stripped the pair of their parliamentary immunity but they reacquired it by being reelected in October’s general elections.
The committee meeting will take place just one day before Mr. Babiš’s minority government are due to undergo a vote of confidence in the lower house.
Duka: Enhanced position of Freedom and Direct Democracy and Communists threat to democracy
The enhanced position of Freedom and Direct Democracy and the Communists, with whom the ANO government are cooperating in the Chamber of Deputies, represents a threat to freedom and democracy in the Czech Republic, says the head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Dominik Duka.
Explaining his comments, the primate referred to some nominees to head lower house committees, including the Communists’ Zdeněk Ondráček, who while a member of a police riot squad took part in violent clampdowns on protestors prior to the 1989 Velvet Revolution.
In an interview for Czech Television, Cardinal Duka also said that the opposition parties were behaving like the democratic groupings in Czechoslovakia in 1948, when the Communist Party took power.
Result of Tuesday’s vote to elect new head of parliamentary commission annulled
A vote to elect a new chairman of the standing parliamentary commission overseeing the police general inspectorate (GIBS) will have to be repeated, the speaker of the lower house Radek Vondráček made clear on Wednesday, citing “confusion” in a second secret vote on Tuesday.
The Communist Party’s nominee Zdeněk Ondráček was originally thought to have been elected before a technical issue came to light, casting the result of the vote in doubt.
His election, seen as highly controversial because of Mr Ondráček’s role as a communist-era police officer who took part in a clampdown on student demonstrators in 1989, prompted dozens of people to protest in front of Parliament on Tuesday evening before the announcement was made.
A third attempt to elect the nominee as chairman will take place in mid-January.
Area around Nádraží Holešovice Metro station tipped for new government district
A proposed district of government buildings could be created in Prague’s Holešovice district, by the Nádraží Holešovice Metro station, the city’s mayor, Adriana Krnáčová, and Ondřej Boháč of the Prague Institute of Planning and Development told journalists on Wednesday.
As many as four ministries could be located in the district, which has been proposed by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of ANO and features in the party’s policy programme for government.
Buildings in central Prague that currently house ministries could serve as museums or galleries, Mr. Babiš says.
Number of registered carp sellers up on last year
Carp, the food traditionally served for Christmas dinner in the Czech Republic, is being offered by over 2,500 registered sellers around the country, a spokesperson for the State Veterinary Administration said on Wednesday. That figure is 300 higher than in 2016. Large vats of carp have already appeared in many places.
During inspections last year the State Veterinary Administration found shortcomings at around 2.5 percent of sellers, half the number for the previous year.
Fried carp is usually served with potato salad. Some people keep a live fish in their bath and kill it before dinner on Christmas Eve.
Ex-Dortmund and Arsenal man Tomáš Rosický retires at 37
The former Czech football captain Tomáš Rosický has retired from the game. Speaking at a news conference in Prague on Wednesday, the playmaker, who is 37, said his body had been telling him for a long time that he could not continue and that he no longer had anything to offer on the pitch.
Rosický played for Sparta Prague, Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal in a career that was frequently blighted by injury. He lifted the Bundesliga title with Dortmund and picked up two FA Cup winners medals with Arsenal. He earned 105 international caps, scoring 23 goals for the Czech Republic.
Snow is expected in the Czech Republic on Thursday, along with temperatures of up to 3 degrees Celsius. More snow is forecast for the remainder of the week.