Czech morning news in brief: top headlines for June 9, 2021

Hundreds attend concert for free Belarus, Agrofert accused of Twitter lobbying to sway anti-Babiš vote, and the Apple Car hits the streets of Prague.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 09.06.2021 09:58 (updated on 09.06.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

Hundreds of people attend concert for free Belarus in Prague

Several hundred people came to a concert in support of free Belarus dedicated to Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on Kampa Island in Prague Tuesday tonight. "Each solidarity event like this is strengthening us immensely," Tsikhanouskaya said as she thanked concert organizers and Czech musicians who performed. Singer David Koller performed folk singer Karel Kryl's protest song evoking the 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet-led troops. In the August presidential election, Tsikhanouskaya ran against Lukashenko, who sought re-election and officially won, becoming president for the sixth time in a row. According to Belarusian authorities, she received just 10 percent of the vote. Observers say the election was rigged and she received more votes than Lukashenko. Many countries and the EU have not recognized the result of the vote. President Zeman, who received Tsikhanouskaya earlier Wednesday, expressed his personal support and wished the Belarusian opposition victory in its fight against Europe's last dictator.

Czech lower house to discuss stricter penalties for violence against women

The case of former TOP 09 MP Dominik Feri has led the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament, to convene a meeting to discuss the tightening of sentences for violent behavior towards women. Feri was accused by several women of sexual violence, and although he has denied the accusations he resigned as a member of parliament and as the election candidate of the Together (Spolu) coalition (ODS, KDU-ČSL, and TOP 09). So far no bill is part of the agenda for Wednesday's meeting on creating stricter penalties for violence against women but rather a general debate, reports iDnes.cz. The Chamber of Deputies will also debate the adaptation of the Covid passports from July.

MEPs accuse Agrofert of lobbying against anti-Babiš resolution

The Agrofert holding took to Twitter to lobby against the resolution criticizing Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš's conflict of interest, Brussels webpage Politico reported. An Agrofert spokesman told CTK that MEPs can have balanced information this way. Transparency International has criticized the steps taken by the holding. A large majority of MEPs are expected to approve the resolution in the Wednesday vote. The drafted EP resolution arises from the April EC audit report that found Babiš, who still controls Agrofert, in conflict of interest since he placed it in trust funds in 2017. This is why the holding is not entitled to EU structural funds subsidies. Babiš disagrees with the conclusion, arguing that by transferring his firm to the funds, he complied with the Czech conflict of interest law. Under the draft legislation, the MEPs want to call on Czech authorities to start dealing efficiently with Babiš's situation. The EC should apply a new rule towards the Czech Republic which enables the halting of payment of EU money to countries that do not efficiently combat corruption and conflict of interest.

Prague to launch architecture tender for new Philharmonic seat

Prague City Hall could open an international architecture tender for a new building to house the Czech Philharmonic and Prague Symphony orchestra already this August. The winner would be selected in May 2022, while the structure is to be completed by 2037. The location for the project is the Prague-Vltavská metro station. Costs estimated at CZK 6.1 billion will be covered by city hall, the state, and private investors. Along with many domestic studios, some 23 foreign participants confirmed their interest, Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib said. The 11-member jury will consist of prominent Czech and foreign architects, representatives from the city, and the Philharmonic. Three halls are planned, a concert hall accommodating 1,800 spectators, a smaller one for chamber music with a 700-seat capacity, and a multi-purpose hall seating up to 500 people. The building should be open to the public on a daily basis, with restaurants, cafes, and community activities.

Apple Maps cars cruising Czech streets between June-July

Apple's rival to Google’s Street View, Look Around, is focused on quality images, with an aim of providing users with high-resolution content. While slow-moving Look Around updates and a primary focus on U.S. locations have pushed many map app users to Google Street View, the company is currently expanding its Look Around views to Europe, reports Autoevolution. After Poland, Apple cars are now surveying the Czech Republic. Apple’s official site indicates that the cars will capture images from several Czech regions throughout the country, including Prague, in June and July, although there is no estimated date for when the photos could show up on Apple Maps.

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