Daily news summary

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Lidice memorial closed to public for first time over coronavirus

Dozens of people attended a memorial at Lidice near Prague on Wednesday to commemorate a Nazi massacre of local people on June 10, 1942. Survivors and witnesses of the atrocity and senior politicians including President Miloš Zeman gathered at the event, which for the first time is not public, due to public health concerns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Nazis slaughtered the inhabitants of Lidice and completely demolished the small village, intending to wipe it off the map for eternity, in retaliation for the assassination of governor Reinhard Heydrich.

European affairs secretary reveals areas of focus planned for Czech EU presidency

During its upcoming EU presidency in 2022, the Czech Republic wants to focus on developing the union’s internal market, security, digitisation and new technologies, State Secretary for European Affairs Milena Hrdinková told the Committee on European Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday. Other priority areas include sustainability and social cohesion.

Ms Hrdinková highlighted that the list of priorities will be narrowed down in the future, depending on how the situation in the EU develops, and that this is a work in progress. This stance was supported by some deputies from the lower house, who fear that such a wide range of priorities may make these plans hard to realise.

The first official priorities list should be announced next year.

Demonstrations against Babiš govt. held in Prague and elsewhere

Anti-government demonstrations took place in Prague and 160 other places in the Czech Republic on Tuesday evening. Around 1,500 people attended a demonstration on the capital’s Old Town Square organised by protest group Million Moments for Democracy, who say that Andrej Babiš’s government failed to implement sufficient economic measures in response to the coronavirus crisis and that some procurements of medical equipment were not transparent.

The organisers created a grid of temporary markings on Old Town Square ahead of the protest that signalled where participants should stand to ensure social distancing.

Finance minister named Czech Republic’s most influential woman by Forbes

Finance Minister Alena Schillerová has been named the Czech Republic’s most influential woman by Forbes magazine. It is the first time Ms Schillerova came first on the list. Last year she came in second behind Věra Jourová, the current Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency.

The finance minister administers the CZK 1.7 trillion state budget, a role that is especially important during the coronavirus pandemic where a multitude of relief measures for the Czech economy are being put in place.

Ms Jourová came in second, followed by Prague’s High State Attorney Lenka Bradáčová in third place. Meanwhile, Ms Schillerová’s colleague, Labour Minister Jana Maláčová, came in second on Forbes’ list.

May poll shows PM’s ANO party more than 20 points ahead of second placed Pirates

If elections into the Chamber of Deputies were held in May, the ruling ANO party of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš would receive 33.7 percent of the vote, a 2.9 percent increase compared to voter preferences measured in March, ahead of the coronavirus countermeasures adopted by the government. The poll was conducted in the final days of May by polling agency STEM.

The opposition Pirate Party came in second with 12.8 percent of the vote, followed by the Civic Democrats with 11.4 percent. Both parties have seen their share fall compared to previous months.

The Social Democrats, who are currently in coalition with ANO, saw their share of the hypothetical vote rise to 8.9 percent. The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia would come in fifth with 7.3 percent, followed by the right-wing Freedom and Direct Democracy party which would receive 6.5 percent.

The last party to surpass the 5 percent minimum to get into the Chamber of Deputies are the Christian Democrats, with 6.1 percent of the vote. The current opposition TOP 09 and Mayors and Independents parties both polled below the threshold.

The STEM poll suggests voter turnout would see 55 percent of eligible voters turn up to voting stations.

Coronavirus pandemic saw major rise in gold purchases

During the coronavirus pandemic the amount of gold purchases rose by hundreds of percentage points in the Czech Republic, the country’s leading gold dealers told the Czech News Agency on Wednesday, although they refused to release specific data.

Currently, the price of gold on world markets is around USD 1,720 for a troy ounce. In mid-May the price reached a seven year high of USD 1,765 per ounce.

According to gold dealers the high demand for gold and silver caused a shortage of the metals offered on markets. Furthermore, nearly half of the world production of gold bars, some 1,500 tons, is based in the Swiss canton of Ticino, where refineries of precious metals were closed from March 20. This two to three month interruption has resulted in severely limiting the amount of gold that is on sale, David Marášek, the statutory director of Zlato.cz which focuses on gold sales, told the Czech News Agency.

New movie about Czech philosopher and pedagogue Jan Amos Komenský being filmed in Zlin region

Filming is in progress for an upcoming movie called Jako letni sníh (Like summer snow), which is set to focus on one of the most famous Czechs Jan Amos Komenský, the Czech News Agency reported on Wednesday citing a press announcement from the Executive Director of the Zlín Film Office Magdaléna Hladká. The film is to premiere in cinemas and on Czech Television later this year.

The director of the film Lubomír Hlavsa said that he wants to present Komenský from a new angle. He has chosen the meeting between the Czech philosopher and Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn as a connecting line in his narrative. Actors Alois a David Švehlík will feature in the main roles.

Komenský’s place of birth is estimated to have been in one of the villages or towns in the Zlin region. A member of the protestant Unity of the Brethren, Komenský chose to move into exile after losing his property and writings during the Thirty Years War. Working as an educator and theologian, he led schools and advised governments across Protestant Europe. Eventually settled in Amsterdam, where he died in 1670.

Weather

Thursday will see temperatures range between 21 to 23 degrees Celsius. Rain is expected in the northern parts of the country, with the exception of Prague.