• 09/13/2022

    The trial of ex-prime minister Andrej Babiš, who is facing charges of fraud in connection with the Stork’s Nest conference centre near Prague, had its second day of hearings on Tuesday.

    The trial began with Judge Jan Šott reading several witness statements. According to the Czech News Agency, Mr. Babiš left the morning hearing satisfied because, he said, the witness statements showed that the accusation against him is false.

    In the afternoon the court heard testimony from a handwriting expert who stated that a signature on the deed for the acquisition of shares in the Stork's Nest company, allegedly from Mr Babiš's son, is probably not genuine. He also said that he found similarities to Mr Babiš's handwriting, but a categorical conclusion cannot be reached until more examples of Babiš junior's handwriting are made available. This material is difficult to find because Babiš's son is not a Czech citizen and lives in Switzerland, he said.

    Mr. Babiš and his former advisor Jana Nagyová are accused of falsely creating the impression that the Stork’s Nest company, which was connected to Babiš’s conglomerate Agrofert, met grant conditions as a small or medium-sized business, in order to fraudulently acquire around CZK 50 million in EU subsidies to build the conference centre.

    The trial follows a seven-year investigation. Both defendants face five to ten years in prison.

    Author: Anna Fodor
  • 09/13/2022

    The number of registered new Covid-19 cases in Czechia has reached over 3,000 in one day for the first time since the start of August. On Monday 3,288 new cases were recorded, which was an increase of about 500 on seven days earlier.

    Infection rates have been increasing for eight days in a row.

    Some 728 people were in Czech hospitals with the coronavirus on Monday, a fall of 41 on the same day last week. The number in a critical condition remains around 30.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 09/13/2022

    In the face of soaring power prices, the Czech government has set caps on electricity and gas prices for small consumers. The new prices will apply in deposit payments from November. Electricity will cost a maximum of CZK 6 per kWh while in the case of gas it will be CZK 3 per kWh. The state has earmarked CZK 130 billion to cover the scheme.

    Opposition leaders say the move comes too late and that power prices will still be too high.

    The government is due to announce its price cap system for businesses on Wednesday.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 09/12/2022

    Czechia will end its membership of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research at Dubna near Moscow by the end of this year, the country’s Ministry of Education said on its website on Monday. In July Czech legislators voted to quit the organisation and the move was signed off on by the president and prime minister.

    The step comes in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and related international sanctions.

    Czechoslovakia and later Czechia had been involved in the nuclear research institute for 66 years.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 09/12/2022

    The European Commission should mull the introduction of a Europe-wide strategic system of reserves of raw materials whose importation the EU is most dependent on, says the Czech minister of industry and trade, Jozef Síkela. He told reporters that representatives of EU states had agreed on this at a meeting in Prague on Monday organised by his ministry as part of Czechia’s ongoing presidency of the EU.

    Mr. Síkela said the US and some other countries already had such a system in place.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 09/12/2022

    Inflation in Czechia reached 17.2 percent year-on-year in August, according to official data released on Monday. That was down slightly on the 17.5 percent recorded in July and was the first time the rate declined for 13 months. However, it was still the joint second-highest increase in that period.

    Fuel prices fell slightly in August, but the prices of foodstuff were up. Housing also became more expensive.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 09/12/2022

    It should be mainly overcast in Czechia on Tuesday, with an average high temperature of 22 degrees Celsius. The following days are expected to see some rain.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 09/12/2022

    Il Boemo, starring Vojtěch Dyk as 18th century composer Josef Mysliveček, has been chosen as the Czech nominee in the Best International Film category at the Academy Awards.

    The film is written and directed by Petr Václav. It will get its world premiere at the San Sebastian IFF this month and will enter Czech cinema distribution on October 20.

    A shortlist of 15 works for the Best International Film Oscar will be announced in December while the actual nominees will be revealed in January.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 09/12/2022

    The trial has begun of ex-prime minister Andrej Babiš, who is facing charges of fraud in connection with the Stork’s Nest conference centre near Prague.

    Mr. Babiš and his former advisor Jana Nagyová are accused of unlawfully acquiring around CZK 50 million in EU subsidies to build the complex.

    The billionaire businessman told Prague’s Municipal Court on Monday that nobody had acted corruptly and that the money in question had been returned.

    He said the reason he was facing criminal proceedings was that he had entered politics – otherwise nobody would have ever heard of the Stork’s Nest.

    The trial follows a seven-year investigation. The defendants are accused of falsely creating the impression that the company Stork’s Nest met grant conditions as a small or medium-sized business.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 09/12/2022

    Czechia’s population rose by 9,000 in the first half of 2022 to a total of 10.526 million, the Czech Statistics Agency announced on Monday. Although the country registered more deaths than births, the natural decline in population was made up for by imigration from abroad. However, it should be noted that the statistic does not include the high number of Ukrainian refugees who fled to Czechia following Russia’s invasion of their homeland.

    Michaela Němečková from the Demographic Statistics Department of the Czech Statistics Agency said that 50,000 children were born in the first half of 2022, 10 percent fewer when compared to last year. Nearly a half of the newborns were born to unmarried women. Deaths were lower than last year, which had been strongly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

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