Daily news summary


Counterintelligence says no evidence foreign agents working to influence Czech elections

The Czech counterintelligence service says it has no information indicating that foreign agents are working to influence the outcome of elections in the Czech Republic. The statement comes in response to a request from outgoing Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka for the intelligence services to address the issue, after one of the hot candidates in the presidential race, Jiří Drahoš, expressed concern that foreign agent and trolls were using disinformation campaigns to influence the outcome of elections in this country. In its October report the intelligence service BIS cited heightened activities in the country by Russian agents. Prime Minister Sobotka said the government was taking the possibility of such a threat very seriously.

Meanwhile, President Miloš Zeman who is running for re-election has dismissed these concerns saying that Jiří Drahoš is trying to draw attention to himself through conspiracy theories. Zeman said it was an insult to voters’ common sense to think they might be swayed by foreign propaganda.

Finance minister: law on electronic cash registers filling state coffers

The law on electronic cash registers introduced by the outgoing government has had a positive impact on state finances, Finance Minister Ivan Pilný said at a press briefing in Prague on Friday. He said that since the law on compulsory electronic cash registers was introduced in January, the state had collected an additional 4.1 billion crowns in taxes, a figure that could rise to 5 billion by the end of the year.

Over 160,000 entrepreneurs registered with the ministry in the first year and another 300,000 will start delivering electronic records of their earnings in 2018.

The centre-right parties have criticized the move saying it will put many small entrepreneurs out of business. According to the Czech Association of Hotels and Restaurants over 3,000 restaurants closed their doors following its introduction. The chairman of the association Václav Stárek told the ctk news agency that while the number was slightly higher than in previous years it was not a dramatic decline.

Figures show fastest economic growth in two years

Czech economic growth in the third quarter accelerated from 4.7 to 5 percent compared to the previous quarter, according to figures released by the Czech Statistics Office. The growth was driven largely by increased domestic demand. According to economists it is the strongest year-on-year growth in 24 months. The positive trend is expected to continue.

Czech president to receive proposed US ambassador

Czech president Miloš Zeman is due Wednesday to accept the credentials of proposed US ambassador to the Czech Republic Steve King. The news was confirmed by the president’s spokesman.

King, a rich businessman and Republican supporter with no diplomatic experience has been in Prague since the start of November. Acceptance of his credentials will mean he can officially start in the post.

King is, according to US media reports, not that personally connected with US president Donald Trump but rather to some of his close advisors.

Stricter emissions testing for vehicles postponed by a month

The introduction of stricter rules in emissions testing for vehicles has had to be postponed by a month because roughly a third of the emission testing centres do not have the required software in place to meet these norm, Czech Radio reported on Friday, citing the Transport Ministry.

The new norms concern electronic documentation of the tests performed and were to prevent such centres from to issuing fake certificates to vehicle owners.

The Transport Ministry says it has postponed their introduction so that drivers are not inconvenienced by the fact that not all centres are ready for the change.

Radek Štěpánek officially named trainer to Novak Djokovic

Czech tennis player Radek Štěpánek has been officially named the trainer of former world number one singles player Novak Djokovic.

The announcement was made within three weeks of the two times Czech Davis Cup winner announcing his retirement from the game. The two players, both living in Monoco, are already friends.

Štěpánek said that the agreement of Andre Agassi, who is also training the Serb player, was a key to the agreement that he take up the role. Sidelined by injury, Djokovic intends to start playing again from December 28.

Weather forecast

The weekend should be partly cloudy to overcast with sleet or snow showers and day temperatures between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius. Meteorologists have issued a snow and ice warning for the eastern parts of the country.