Czech morning news in brief: Top headlines for October 12, 2021

Vojtěch to stay on as Health Minister until current regime ends, President's condition is stable, parties hold first post-election meetings. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 12.10.2021 09:56:00 (updated on 12.10.2021) Reading time: 5 minutes

Vojtěch to stay on as Health Minister for rest of current administration

The cabinet line-up of the outgoing Czech government will remain the same until the arrival of the new parliament resulting from Czech elections held at the weekend. Social Democrat ministers will remain in the government even though their party failed to gain any seats in elections to the Chamber of Deputies. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said he does not believe it would be fair for the Social Democrats to be kicked out of government so close to the end of the current regime. Babiš revealed that Social Democrat leader Jan Hamáček said he would understand if ANO did not wish to continue working with the party after the vote.

The continuation of the current cabinet will see Health Minister Adam Vojtěch remain in his post until switching to a diplomatic post on November 1. Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček meanwhile said that in their meeting shortly before President Zeman’s hospitalization on Sunday, the President did not ask Babiš to form a new government, agreeing only to resolve the matter when the President’s health is improved.

President’s health condition remains stable, says hospital

President Miloš Zeman’s health condition is stable, said a spokesperson for Prague’s Central Military Hospital (ÚVN) yesterday. A team of health professionals specialized in the area of care required by Zeman are treating the President in intensive care. The meeting planned for Wednesday between Zeman and Babiš on the make-up of the next government has meanwhile been canceled, Babiš confirmed. Foreign media are reporting that Zeman’s hospitalization is a further blow to Babiš’s hopes of holding on to power.

Zeman was hospitalized on Sunday over complications relating to his chronic illnesses. Miroslav Zavoral, the director of the hospital, said the President did not give doctors consent to make his exact diagnosis known to the media. The President’s spokesperson Jiří Ovčáček asked media to be patient when waiting for more information about Zeman’s health condition to emerge. 

Parties to hold first post-election meetings

Various political parties are holding meetings today as part of negotiations on the formation of the next government of the Czech Republic. Introductory meetings for new MPs are being held by the ANO, ODS, KDU-ČSL, TOP 09 and SPD parties. New MPs for the Czech Pirate Party met for the first time on Sunday. The Pirates were left humiliated in the election by the large number of preferential votes given to their electoral partners STAN, who now have the third largest group in parliament with 33 MPs, compared to the Pirates’ four.

SPOLU and Pirates+STAN MPs together have a majority of 108 seats out of 200 in the new parliament. The two groups have already declared their joint intention to form a new government, displacing current Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his ANO party. The new Chamber of Deputies will meet for the first time no later than thirty days after the vote, on November 8.

Czech Republic beats Belarus 2-0 in World Cup qualifier

The Czech Republic’s World Cup qualification tie with Belarus, played on neutral ground in Kazan, southwest Russia, was won 2-0 by the Czech team. Striker Patrik Schik continued his strong from from the European Championships held this summer by opening the scoring, while the second goal came from fellow forward Adam Hložek.

The match was played without fans, and the subdued atmosphere was underlined by a minute’s silence held before kick-off for victims of a recent plane crash in the territory of Tatarstan, where the match was played. The Czech team started slowly, but their eventual victory left them second in the qualification group behind leaders Belgium and level on points with third-placed Wales, keeping their World Cup qualification hopes alive.

PPF may be selling Home Credit in Russia

Russian media are claiming that the PPF Group are looking to sell local activities of the Home Credit consumer loan company. If the speculation is true, it would be one of the largest ever private sales on the Russian banking market. It is claimed that the Czech group, founded by the late billionaire Petr Kellner, is actively looking for buyers for its Russian subsidiary company. Hungarian banking group OTP is said to have shown interest in the possible acquisition.

Sources claim the decision to sell Home Credit in Russia was made by PPF shortly after the death of Petr Kellner in a helicopter crash in Alaska in March. Another source claims OTP is already performing due diligence checks for the possible acquisition. The PPF press department has refused to comment, describing the rumors as mere “market speculation.” The Home Credit Group reported a loss of CZK 14.8 billion last year as a result of the pandemic.

Stork’s Nest case suspended as Babiš regains parliamentary immunity

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s re-election as a member of the Czech Chamber of Deputies gives him renewed parliamentary immunity, meaning unless the new Chamber extradites him for criminal prosecution, now changes can be expected in the Stork’s Nest affair of alleged EU subsidy fraud. Public prosecutor Jaroslav Šaroch is studying the latest evidence gathered by police, but cannot yet take any actions to move the case forward.

Until the new Chamber grants renewed consent for criminal prosecution, Babiš’s mandate as an elected MP protects him from further action. It is not yet clear whether a such a request for consent will be sent to the Chamber by the prosecutors. The Stork’s Nest case involves a business belonging to Babiš’s Agrofert conglomerate alleged to have transformed into a joint-stock company in 2007 for the purpose of making it eligible to receive EU funds.

Horrific ax attack leaves five seriously injured in Moravia

A man left five people seriously injured in an ax attack in Tišnov, near Brno, on Monday evening. Emergency services cared for patients with stab wounds and cuts at the scene of the crime, according to a spokesperson. A rescue helicopter was also sent to intervene. The attacker was arrested by police.

The attack was reported after 7pm. The victims have been taking to Brno hospitals for treatment. According to media reports, the attacker was a family relative. There is speculation that he is a brother-in-law who chose to carry out an indiscriminate attack on all members of the family. Authorities have not confirmed or denied such speculation.

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