Daily news summary


Finance minister says state budget deficit target for 2016 in danger

Minister of Finance Andrej Babiš warned Wednesday that the target state budget deficit of 70 billion crowns might not be attainable as his ministry is coming under heavy pressure to relax the deficit ceiling. The minister’s comments followed meetings with several Cabinet colleagues Wednesday. Earlier in the day Babiš agreed to an extra 3.0 billion crowns for the 2016 budget of the Ministry of Interior. Minister of Regional Development Karlá Šlechtová however left with only an extra 300 million crowns promised from the 1.5 billion requested when she met with Babiš. She said she would continue to fight for the extra money. The government is expected to finalize the budget in mid-September.

Statues of stoned woman placed in Prague by anti-Islam groups

A series of statues of women who have been stoned appeared as several locations in Prague on Wednesday. The statues, showing women tied up and blood stained, were reportedly placed at the sites by supporters of the initiative “We don’t want Islam in the Czech Republic” and the “Block against Islam. Police said they were investigating the incident but had not immediately detected any illegal conduct.” A spokesman for one of the anti-Islamic groups said that the statues were meant to highlight the barbarities of Islam. The initiative has organised a number of demonstrations with one next week in Prague aimed at protesting against violence against women in Islamic countries.

Court proceedings loom over president’s alleged slur against journalist

Lawyers representing president Miloš Zeman and one of the descendants of distinguished journalist Ferdinand Peroutka have failed to agree on a formula to end their dispute. The dispute started when the head of state alleged that the famous first republic journalist had described Adolf Hitler as a gentlemen. Scouring of the archives since have not been able to unearth the article in question. The journalist’s granddaughter is demanding an apology on the president’s official webpage and in a personal letter. Following the failure of talks Wednesday, the granddaughter’s lawyer said she would instruct a Prague court to go ahead with proceedings.

Temelín reactor shutdown after fault

The second reactor at the Temelín nuclear reactor was disconnected from the power grid early Wednesday morning after a fault was discovered in the cooling system outside the core reactor. The fault is centred on one of six cables taking power from the reactor. The 1078 MW capacity reactor is expected to be operational again at the start of next week. The second reactor has recently returned from an unscheduled shutdown due to problems with the steam generator with production resumed on July 31.

Interior minister wins budget hike for 2016

Interior minister Milan Chovanec has negotiated a hike in the budget for the ministry next year of around 3 billion crowns, the minister said Wednesday following a meeting with finance minister Andrej Babiš. Around an extra billion will be targeted at dealing with the ongoing influx of immigrants and the rest to development of the police and fire services, Chovanec has originally asked to a budget raise of 4 billion crowns. The ministry this year has a budget of around 55.1 billion crowns.

Prague city council coalition shows strains

A battle within the coalition ruling Prague City Council flared up Tuesday with mayor Adriana Krnacová pushing though a motion to remove the powers of deputy mayor Matěj Stropnický for finalising work on the capital’s planning regulations. Krnacová said continued delays in pushing through the new regulations were threatening the capital’s interests. The mayor, nominated by the ANO party, and Stropnický, from the Green Party, have clashed frequently in the recent past. The Green Party has warned that the latest move breaks the agreement between the parties now ruling Prague with Stropnický saying the existence of the coalition is threatened.

Investment group Penta buys up chain of regional papers from German owners

The last major Czech media concern in German hands, the Vltava-Labe-Press Group, has been bought out by the Czech investment group, Penta. The purchase was confirmed by Penta’s spokesman Wednesday but still had to be cleared by the Czech competition office. The main Czech asset of Verlagsgruppe Passau was the Deník chain of regional daily papers and also a portfolio of magazines.

Czech first lady visits female soldiers in Afghanistan

The Czech president’s wife, Ivana Zemanová, this week paid a brief visit to the Czech contingent in Afghanistan where she met with Czech female soldiers, presidential spokesman Jiri Ovčátek told the Czech News Agency, adding that the first lady flew to Kabul early on Monday and returned on Tuesday morning. Mrs Zemanová was accompanied by Rostislav Pilc, the head of the Presidential Office’s military department. At the Czech base in Afghanistan, Mrs Zemanová met with the female members of the Czech military unit, with whom she discussed their everyday life at the mission and gave them small presents.

Visegrad Four experts to discuss case of Michalak brothers

Experts of the Visegrad Four group are to start debating the high-profile case involving a Czech mother, Eva Michaláková, living in Norway, whose children were placed in foster homes, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Tuesday. The Czech Republic, which has took up the presidency of the Visegrad Four group, an alliance of four Central European states which also includes SLoivakia, Poland and Hungary, at the start of July, plans to start dealing with the case. The two boys - now aged six and nine – were taken from their mother and father over alleged sexual abuse, but the Norwegian authorities have refused to make the information public to protect the children’s privacy. Slovakia and Poland are dealing with similar cases of children placed in foster care.

Tomáš Rosický doubtful for European qualifiers

In football, Czech captain Tomáš Rosický will probably miss September’s European championship qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Latvia after undergoing an operation on his knee. The Arsensal player’s agent gave the news to the Dnes newspaper. He said the player would require a rest of between four and eight weeks Rosický missed out on Arsenal’s preparations and the first game of the new season. The Czech national team after a bright qualification start are now second in the group trailing Iceland.