Czech daily news roundup: Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Czech billionaires' wealth grows significantly, Babiš undergoes eyelid surgery, Prague metro gets 5G phone signal. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 06.04.2022 09:19:00 (updated on 06.04.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

15:10 Slovak PM to visit Kyiv with European Commission president

After being criticized domestically for failing to join a visit by the Czech, Slovenian and Polish prime ministers to Kyiv last month, Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger will depart for Kyiv along with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tonight. They will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the current situation amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

14:59 Fiala leaves Covid isolation

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala is attending a government meeting today in person for the first time since testing positive for Covid last week. Fiala also attended a session in the lower house of the Czech parliament. After testing positive for Covid, Fiala self-isolated for a week, tweeting on Monday that the intensity of his illness had been an unpleasant surprise and that his return to work after leaving isolation would be gradual. He has canceled a planned visit to Germany.

13:46 CEE foreign ministers to meet near Prague

Foreign Ministers from the Central 5 (C5) informal regional alliance, comprising the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria and Slovenia, will meet at the Štiřín Chateau near Prague next Tuesday to discuss the situation in Ukraine. The Czech Foreign Ministry announced the meeting today. Other issues on the agenda will be the Czech Republic's upcoming EU presidency and the Covid pandemic. The meeting comes after Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party was re-elected in Hungary; Orbán's ambivalent stance on Ukraine has drawn heavy criticism from regional allies.

11:24 ODS and TOP 09 senators want Zeman to resign

Civic Democrat (ODS) and TOP 09 senators have agreed that the Czech Senate should call on President Miloš Zeman to resign over his controversial pardon for Lány presidential forest chief Miloš Balák. The STAN group of Senators would also support such a resolution, their leader said. Senators are also considering a constitutional lawsuit against Zeman as a result of his pardon for Balák, who was convicted for corruption in a CZK 200 million public tender.

Rich List Czech billionaires’ wealth has grown significantly

According to Forbes’ Europe rich list for 2022, the number of Czech dollar billionaires has stayed the same at nine, while their combined wealth has grown from $41.4 billion in 2021 to $49 billion in 2022. The richest person in the country is now Renáta Kellnerová, the widow of investment tycoon Petr Kellner, who died in a helicopter crash last year.

One of the country’s most successful billionaires over the past year has been former prime minister and current opposition leader Andrej Babiš, whose wealth is thought to have grown by $900 million, up to an estimated $3.5 billion. Overall, though, Europe’s billionaire’s have lost wealth in the past year due to falling stock markets and, most recently, economic turmoil brought about by the war in Ukraine.

Politics Babiš undergoes eyelid surgery

Former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has undergone planned eyelid surgery to remove excess skin on his upper and lower eyelids. The ANO leader, 67, said the surgery had been planned for a long time, and that he must now wear dark glasses and compresses. He hopes to return to attending sessions at the lower house of the Czech parliament later this week.

The surgery is completely unconnected to Babiš’s recent hospitalization over an intestine blockage which led to a brief loss of consciousness. Doctors have put Babiš on a strict diet since the episode, with further checkups ahead to learn more about the cause of his health issues.

Transport Prague’s metro gets 5G mobile signal

Mobile operators have announced that Prague’s metro is now not only covered by mobile signal, but that development of the entire network has been accelerated so that almost the entire metro is now covered by a 5G signal. The last stations to put the faster technology into operation were Dejvická and Nemocnice Motol on Metro line A.

Work on installing phone signals in the metro started in 2015. Now, with one exception at Náměstí  Jiřího z Poděbrad, where Prague’s public transport company is building elevators and undertaking extensive repair works, the entire phone signal network is complete. Phone signal won’t come to Jiřího z Poděbrad until the renovation work is complete.

Business Russia links put village development near Prague under threat

A pair of Russian billionaires behind a project to develop a luxury village called Oaks Prague on the outskirts of the Czech capital has put a halt to its planned purchase of additional land from the village of Popovičky. The developers claimed they would meet their existing obligations, including the introduction of water supply for the site. But local authorities fear the project will run into the ground due to the war in Ukraine.

Several thousand square kilometers of land were scheduled for purchase by a pair of Russian oligarchs, Alexandr Abramov and Alexandr Frolov, co-owners of the multinational steel concern Evraz. But they canceled the purchase in March as the Czech Republic and other western nations froze the assets of Russian oligarchs with ties to the Kremlin.

Theater Wonderful Circus production to bid farewell after 45 years

Prague's Laterna magika is planning the closing night of its world-famous production "The Wonderful Circus" on Sept. 28. The final performance will be the production’s 6,503rd appearance in the 45 years since its premiere. Laterna magika’s head Radim Vizváry described the production as a “pioneer of multi-genre theater.”

Laterna magika combines acting, dancing, and film, and "The Wonderful Circus" makes use of specific technical equipment at the New Stage of Prague’s National Theater, which will go under renovation next year. Laterna magika therefore plans to stage next season’s premiere outdoors, with an adaptation of "The Conference of Birds" by Jean-Claude Carriere.

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