Daily news summary
Social Democrats “united and ready for battle”
A two-day election conference of the ruling Social Democratic Party ended in the Moravian metropolis of Brno on Saturday with party leader Bohuslav Sobotka declaring that the party was united and ready to give a good showing in the autumn parliamentary elections. On Friday party leader Bohuslav Sobotka was re-elected to the top post receiving support from 67 percent of delegates. He ran unchallenged. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec was confirmed in the post of first deputy. Among the foreign guests at the conference were Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern.
Zeman’s supporters collecting signatures in support of his candidacy
President Zeman’s supporters have started collecting signatures in support of his candidacy for president. Although the Social Democratic Party has yet to vote on whether to field or back a candidate, Zeman’s supporters started gathering signatures in his support in Brno where the party held its election conference over the weekend. The Bloc against Islam is reported to have collected a thousand signatures in Prague and Zeman’s long-term supporter Jana Volfová has collected 1,500. As an independent candidate Zeman needs to collect 50,000 signatures to enter the race.
Fire crews cleaning up oil slick on Vltava
Fire crews are working to contain and clean up an oil slick that appeared on the Vltava around midday on Saturday. The slick is reported to be 200 meters long and five meters wide. The source of the contamination is not yet known.
Parliamentary committee says interior minister was not surveilled by military intelligence
A special parliamentary committee set up to oversee the activities of the country’s military intelligence service has concluded that the service was not engaged in surveilling Interior Minister Milan Chovanec and dismissed speculation regarding a war between the country’s police and military intelligence. The committee launched an investigation into the case after a military intelligence officer was arrested in Prague last week while taking photographs in the vicinity of a villa belonging to the Ministry of the Interior and used by Mr Chovanec. The head of military intelligence, Jan Beroun, strongly denied speculation about his agents surveilling the house and the committee confirmed that the agent had been surveilling a different target.
Observers: Zeman not certain winner in elections
Milos Zeman will be a strong contestant in the 2018 presidential elections but not a certain winner, political observers say in response to the president’s bid for re-election. Commentaries in Saturdays papers predict that the presidential elections will be a race of “everyone against Zeman”. They say that a successful rival would have to match Zeman's rhetoric skills and present better solutions to the country’s problems that those proffered by the present head of state.
Ai Weiwei returning to Prague with refugee-themed work of art
Chinese conceptual artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, 59, will return to the Czech Republic in March after a year to display his new artifact created exclusively for the National Gallery in Prague. The artist’s biggest sculpture ever reflects his concern about the refugee crisis. Called "Law of the Journey", the 70-metre-long (230-foot-long) inflatable boat with 258 oversize refugee figures will be shown from March 16 through the rest of the year.
Sunday should be partly cloudy to overcast with day temperatures between 6 and 10 degrees Celsius.