Daily news summary

Leaked recording captures statement not order, says Babiš

The former minister of finance, ANO boss Andrej Babiš, denies that he gave anybody orders in a recording anonymously released on Sunday. The tape appears to capture him saying that “his people” at the tax authority had put pressure on a rival company to his Agrofert that later went bankrupt.

However, in an interview with Lidovky.cz on Tuesday, Mr. Babiš said the “pseudo-recording” was of a statement, not an order. He compared the words used to pub chat.

In addition, the ANO leader again accused the Social Democrat minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec, of unduly influencing the security services.

Bosnian leader accuses Zeman of Islamophobia over IS claim

The Bosnian politician Bakir Izetbegovic has rejected a suggestion from Czech President Miloš Zeman that his country could become a base of Islamic State in Europe because of its ethnic composition, the Czech News Agency reported.

The Bosniak member of the tripartite presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Izetbegovic described Mr. Zeman’s statement as xenophobic, Islamophobic and baseless.

The Czech president said in an interview on Sunday that if Islamic State lost territory in Iraq and Syria they could create a European base in Bosnia, where he said IS flags fly in a number of towns and villages.

Councillors approve changes to multi-lane road running through capital

The authorities in Prague are set to make alterations to the major multi-lane road that cuts through the centre of the city. New crossings are to be built on the road, known as the magistrále (mainline), while adjacent parks and streets are to be cleaned up under a plan approved by councillors on Tuesday.

Deputy mayor Petra Kolínská said the road was more than anything a barrier that divided different parts of the city from one another and was avoided by pedestrians. At present it has very few crossings while its underpasses are often in a poor state.

No Brexit vote effect on Czech-UK relations, says ambassador to London

The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union has not as yet had any impact on bilateral relations between Prague and London, the Czech ambassador to the UK, Libor Sečka, told the Czech News Agency. Mr. Sečka said it would be necessary to see the balance of trade between the two states at the end of the year before assessing the economic effect of the Brexit vote.

The ambassador said his embassy had registered an increase in animosity against Czechs living in the UK immediately following Britain’s referendum last year. Every registered case was discussed with the UK authorities, Mr. Sečka said. However, the situation has since calmed, he added.

Police cell conditions and procedures must improve, says ombudswoman

Ombudswoman Anna Šabatová has criticised conditions in Czech police cells and the manner in which body searches are carried out, Czech Television reported on Tuesday. A new report conducted by her office on the basis of complaints received in the last two years found there were no set rules for conducting body searches. Such rules must be introduced to preserve suspects’ dignity, it says.

Some cells only contain a wooden bed without a mattress, which the ombudswoman described as unacceptable. She also said that all cells must be equipped with toilet paper and other necessary hygiene projects.

Press: Berlin embassy in set for renovation not replacement

The Czech government has decided to renovate the country’s embassy in Germany, dropping a previous plan to build a new diplomatic mission in Berlin, Právo reported on Tuesday. The renovation and temporary relocation will cost the state over CZK 700 million, the newspaper said.

The Czech embassy in Berlin is an example of Brutalism and was designed by the architects Věra Machoninová and Vladimir Machonin, who also did Prague’s Kotva department store and Hotel Thermal and Karlovy Vary.

The embassy was built to accommodate up to 500 staff but at present it used by fewer than 50.

Weather forecast

Wednesday should be sunny in the Czech Republic, with daytime highs of up to 28 degrees Celsius. Temperatures are expected to drop toward the end of the week, falling to around 17 degrees Celsius at the weekend.