Czech morning news in brief: Top headlines for October 19, 2021

Fiala calls for consensus on Zeman, Castle officials criticized by constitutional experts, government supports tougher sanctions against Belarus. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 19.10.2021 09:56:00 (updated on 19.10.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Political consensus on President needed, says Fiala

SPOLU coalition leader Petr Fiala (ODS) said consensus across the political spectrum is needed in light of the news about President Zeman’s inability to perform his presidential duties. TOP 09 leader Markéta Pekarová Adamová meanwhile said that if Zeman is unlikely to be able to resume his functions soon, his powers should be divided among other senior officials.

Senate leader Miloš Vystrčil shared news from Prague’s Central Military Hospital (ÚVN) that Zeman is now unable to perform any working duties. The Senate board will meet with party leaders today to discuss next steps about the transferal of presidential powers. Christian Democrat leader Marian Jurečka said the transferal of powers under Article 66 of the constitution “seems very likely.”

Castle chancellor’s actions difficult to defend, says lawyer

Vratislav Mynář’s decision to allow President Miloš Zeman to sign a decision calling a meeting of the new parliament on November 8 despite being told by doctors that Zeman could not perform any working duties is difficult to defend. So said constitutional lawyer Jan Kysela, who went on to say that the signed document itself is uncontroversial as the arrival of the new parliament would take place in any case.

Mynář arranged a meeting between Zeman and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Radek Vondráček on October 13, at which Zeman signed the decision for the first session of the new Chamber to take place. Kysela compared Mynář’s actions in apparently directing the actions of an ill President as reminiscent of “oriental despotism”.

Czech Republic supports tougher sanctions against Belarusian regime

Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek has said the Czech Republic supports imposing additional sanctions on the Belarusian regime, primarily targeting the nation’s Belavia airline. EU foreign ministers are today discussing tougher sanctions on the regime of Alexander Lukashenko.

Lukashenko’s government has been accused of waging “hybrid warfare” against the EU by allegedly shepherding migrants from the Middle East towards the borders of the Schengen Zone in Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. Many of these migrants are now suffering harrowing conditions while trapped at the border, having made the first stage of their journey to Belarus on Belarusian airlines. The EU meeting also discussed preparations for the bloc’s meeting with six post-Soviet “Eastern Partners” in December; a club of which Belarus used to be a member. Kulhánek said the Czech Republic would support inviting Belarusian opposition leaders in exile to attend the meeting in place of the Lukashenko regime.

Celtic treasure coins sold at Prague auction

Gold coins from a Celtic treasure collection in the Czech Republic were sold at a Prague auction on Friday, with sales totaling almost CZK 90 million, CZK 25 million than had been expected. The most expensive coin sold at the auction, a ducat from the collection of Prince Karl Egon Furstenberg, was sold for CZK 2.5 million after bidding started at CZK 250,000.

The largest collection of Celtic gold coins in Europe, weighing 50 kilos and containing between 7,000 and 10,000 coins, was found near Podmokly village in West Bohemia in the second half of the eighteenth century. Yet only a few original coins were preserved, as the highly valuable treasure was gained by Prince Furstenberg and used for the mintage of gold ducats in the early nineteenth century.

Czech Republic to send CZK 40 million in humanitarian aid abroad

The Czech Republic will send humanitarian aid worth CZK 40 million from charity programs to help people in Senegal, Kenya, Georgia and Mali. The government approved the Interior Ministry’s proposal for the aid, of which the largest amount, CZK 25 million, will be sent to Senegal, to help in stopping illegal migration to the Canary Islands.

The aid program will aim to incentivize young Senegalese people to stay, to create jobs, and to improve access to business training. CZK 5 million will meanwhile go to northern Keyna, to help in refugee camps mostly containing people from Somalia. Another CZK 5 million will support cancer screening and gynecology services in Georgia. The final CZK 5 million portion will go to Mali to help provide urgent medical care for new mothers and newborn babies, while helping in the struggle against female circumcision in the country.

Prague role in Trump Russia dossier questioned again

Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele has stood by claims made in the “Steele Dossier,” which said Russian officials held compromising information on former U.S. President Donald Trump, including the allegation that Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen traveled to Prague in 2016 to meet Russian officials. A subsequent investigation into the dossier found the allegation to be untrue.

Cohen himself denied under oath ever traveling to the Czech Republic during a Congressional hearing into the affair in 2019. The FBI later claimed to have proven that Cohen did not travel to Prague. Steele, however, maintains that Cohen may be lying about the trip despite cooperation with investigators on other matters.

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