Daily news summary
Czech president to seek 5 million crowns over cancer claim
Czech president Miloš Zeman has said he is seeking damages of 5 million crowns and an apology from the Brno politician who suggested that the head of state is suffering from cancer.
Zeman said that the damages his office will seek from Svatopluk Bartík could flow into his electoral fund or could be contributed to charity.
He added that the 5 million crown figure was inspired by the damages sought in the past by former president Václav Havel.
Bartík wrote on his Facebook page at the stat of the week that Zeman, who is seeking re-election as president at the start of 2018, was suffering cancer and had only months to live. Zeman’s doctors have also denied the claim he is suffering from cancer.
Interior Ministry confirms that nine candidates will face off in the first round of the presidential election
No more than nine candidates of 20 who registered to run in the presidential election this week will be eligible, the Interior Ministry's Klára Pěknicová confirmed on Friday. According to the official, 11 candidates did not fulfill the necessary legal requirements, either failing to submit enough signatures from the public or from lawmakers or filed after the Tuesday deadline.
A total of eight would-be candidates submitted no signatures at all.
Those running in the election on January 13th, 2018, range between the ages of 41 and 74.
Czech Radio: Topolánek failed to register campaign account by deadline
Former prime minister Mirek Topolánek failed to register a campaign account by Tuesday in line with filing his bid to run in the upcoming presidential election, Czech Radio reported Friday, adding the account created later was non-transparent.
Mr Topolánek unexpectedly announced his decision to run for president last Sunday and secured signatures from 10 senators on the eve of the deadline.
His team countered that the law did not properly account for last-minute candidacies. The Interior Ministry is looking into the matter; there are several possibilities, from symbolic sanctions to a fine of up to half a million crowns.
Daily: Babiš in favour of taxing church restitution funds
Andrej Babiš, tasked with forming a new government after his party ANO won a decisive victory in the election in October, is looking to tax church restitution funds, the daily Lidové noviny writes. The funds until now were exempt in a deal agreed between a previous center-right government and religious organizations, to offset damages caused by the communist regime when it unlawfully seized church property in Czechoslovakia after 1948. Over 30 years, the state is to pay some 59 billion crowns, adjusted for inflation for property which could no longer be returned (while property worth 75 billion crowns, was).
Not only Mr Babiš is in favor of taxation, according to the daily, but also the Communist Party, which cited taxation of the funds as crucial for its support of an ANO-led minority government. The Freedom and Direct Democracy Party, led by businessman turned politician Tomio Okamura has also backed the idea.
ANO, the communists and Mr Okamura's party could together easily pass the changes in the new Chamber of Deputies. The change would not, however, be retroactive and could not affect funds returned since the deal went into effect in 2013.
Archaeologists say Czech mass graves could be unique in Europe
Archaeologists say they have found mass graves from the height of the Middle Ages in the Czech Republic which are probably unique in Europe.
The around 30 mass graves, containing around 1500 human remains mostly from the 14th and 15 century, have been discovered at the historic town of Kutna Hora. Many of those who were buried hurriedly died from the plague or from famine. In some graves the bodies are five layers thick, in the largest grave 26 layers thick.
Archaeologists believe the wide cross section of the population buried can give a good picture of living conditions and how they evolved over time.
Thirty new cases of Hepatitis A registered in Ústí region
A hepatitis A epidemic has continued to spread in the region of Ústí, with 30 new cases registered. The epidemic led towns in the region to take special hygienic measures, for example, at a voting booth at an elementary school in the recent elections where disinfectant gel and napkins were offered.
In all, 237 people in the region have contracted the disease since August. Ground zero for the epidemic was originally in socially-excluded areas, a local epidemiologist confirmed.
Saturday is expected to be overcast with showers. Daytime temperatures should reach highs of around 8 degrees Celsius.