Overview of Czech news: Tuesday, April 5, 2022
15:34 Senators consider constitutional lawsuit against Zeman
The senators plan to file a constitutional complaint against Czech President Miloš Zeman for his controversial pardon granted to the head of the Lány forest administration, Miloš Balák. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Senate Constitutional Committee is pushing for a constitutional change that would make presidential pardons dependent on a co-signature by the prime minister. Miroslava Němcová, a Civic Democrat (ODS) senator, asked her colleagues to prepare legal action against the president after the President of the Constitutional Court said that Zeman’s pardon was an attack on the rule of law.
Business Restructuring of Czech Airlines approved
The Prague City Court has approved a reorganization plan for bankrupt Czech Airlines. A new company Prague City Air, owned by the owners of Smartwings, will become an investor in Czech Airlines, which went insolvent last March. The court ruled that the reorganization structure drawn up by Smartwings complied with all legal requirements and had the approval of all five groups of creditors.
Crime Psychologists visit the site of a school murder
Teaching resumed yesterday at the Ohradní secondary school in Michle, Prague, where a teacher was murdered last week with a machete. The school was also visited by five psychologists, who discussed the tragic events with students and staff. The teacher was killed by a 19-year-old student last Thursday and succumbed to his injuries instantly. The man who committed the murder faces 12 to 20 years in prison and is currently in police custody.
12:55 Czech soldiers set up camp for NATO battalion in Slovakia
200 Czech soldiers arrived in Slovakia to create the conditions for the installation of a new NATO battalion on the eastern flank of the alliance after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Up to 2,100 soldiers will be deployed in the country, with troops coming from six NATO members: Czechia, Poland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Germany and the United States. The battalion will be under Czech command. The 250 Czech soldiers of the 43rd Parachute Regiment currently in Slovakia are joined by around 400 American, German and Dutch soldiers.
11:45 12,600 Ukrainian refugees started working in Czechia
Some 12,600 Ukrainian refugees have so far found jobs in the Czech Republic and another 10,000 have registered with employment agencies. Labor and Social Affairs Minister Marian Jurečka said the figures show an active desire of Ukrainians to find jobs in Czechia. During this time, 162,000 refugees requested humanitarian aid of 5,000 CZK per month.
11:15 Only six diplomats remain at the Russian Embassy
According to the Czech Foreign Ministry, there are currently only six diplomats at the Russian Embassy in Prague. It is believed that Russia’s deputy ambassador to the Czech Republic was declared persona non grata last week and forced to leave the country due to alleged links to Russian intelligence. The expulsion follows a dramatic reduction in the Russian diplomatic presence in Prague following revelations last year about the Vrbětice arms depot explosion. Diplomatic relations have deteriorated further since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Energy Czech Republic prepares for gas disruption
Czech Industry and Trade Minister Josef Síkela said the Czech government was preparing for an interruption in gas supply due to a reduction in imports from Russia, as Moscow moved away. stands by its requirements that gas payments should be made in rubles. The government is preparing for all possible scenarios, including a complete shutdown of supplies, Síkela said.
Only 2% of Czech gas consumption is produced in the country and the country is highly dependent on supplies from Russia. Síkela said that in the event of an emergency, the priority would be to ensure the functioning of basic infrastructure and the supply of heat to households. Czechia has one month of gas reserves and more than 90 days of oil and petroleum products.
Crime An assistant to Zeman was the victim of arson
A recent fire at a restaurant owned by Vratislav Mynář, the head of the Czech presidential office, was started deliberately, according to Mynář. He claimed he and his family were inside the building the day of the fire, attributing the attack to the “hateful media campaign” waged against President Zeman and his aides.
Firefighters told the media that the investigation into the cause of the fire was not complete. Mynář’s claim that journalists are endangering the lives of her children follows the publication of a video last week by an anonymous collective, which projected the Russian letter “Z” on Prague Castle in protest against President Zeman’s pro-Russian leanings, and promised Zeman and his associates would “never feel safe” in the Czech Republic.
Kremlin Russia threatens retaliation over Czech diplomatic expulsion
The Russian Foreign Ministry has summoned Czech Ambassador to Moscow Vitěslav Pivonka over the recent expulsion of a Russian diplomat from the Czech Republic. Pivonka was told the decision would not go unanswered, according to Russian state media.
Russia claimed the Czech move was another attempt to “destroy bilateral relations”. The Czech Foreign Ministry expelled an employee of the Russian embassy in Prague for alleged contacts with the Russian secret service; Czech media claimed that the expulsion concerned Russian Deputy Ambassador Feodosiy Vladyshevsky.
Corruption Changes to competition laws face criticism
A planned change to public procurement laws in the Czech Republic has come under fire for allowing companies found guilty of corruption to participate in public tenders. The change, proposed in mid-March in a 104-page document, will result in a shift in favor of companies hitherto sanctioned for tax evasion, corruption or fraud.
At the moment, companies found guilty of corruption are not allowed to participate in public tenders, as the law requires that the winners of the tenders must be companies of “good reputation”. But the proposed amendment would allow doomed companies to simply partner with another company in the same group, compete for a tender under the other company’s name, and then carry out major public projects.
Business Škoda Auto has a new boss
Thomas Schäfer will be replaced as head of Škoda Auto by fellow German Klaus Zellmer, who previously worked on the board of Volkswagen’s business unit. Schäfer leaves after guiding Škoda through two of its toughest years, encompassing the Covid pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine.
Škoda has struggled with supply chain issues and labor shortages lately. Schäfer will leave to assume the position of chairman of the board of the entire Volkswagen brand, with the change in management due to take place on July 1 this year.