Czech morning news in brief: Top headlines for October 4, 2021

Babiš urged to respond to Pandora Papers allegations, ANO and ODS reject coalition possibility, Senate may make official enquiries about Zeman's health.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff
Published on 04.10.2021 09:37 (updated on 04.10.2021)

Babiš denies Pandora Papers wrongdoing, claims conspiracy

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš used a television debate last night to protest his innocence over the Pandora Papers affair in which he stands accused of suspicious financial dealings when purchasing luxury French real estate. Babiš suggested the allegations had been concocted with less than a week to go until the elections in an attempt to influence the Czech elections. He noted that the events in question took place long before he entered politics and said that his business methods broke no law.

Other world leaders implicated in the Pandora Papers documents include former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, who saved £312,000 in stamp duty when they bought a London office, Russian President Vladimír Putin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and the King of Jordan.

Babiš urged to respond to Pandora Papers allegations by opposition

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš must prove that he taxed the money which he spent on the purchase of luxury real estate on the French Riviera in 2009 and that these transactions were stated in his tax returns, the leaders of Czech political parties said.

Their demands came in response to the publication of the Pandora Papers, which allege that Babiš passed money through a complicated structure of offshore companies when purchasing French properties including a chateau on the French Riviera. Babiš denies any wrongdoing, but opposition leaders said that if he did not tax the money properly, he should leave politics.

Babiš and Fiala reject possibility of ANO-ODS government

In a TV debate last night, Prime Minister and ANO party leader Andrej Babiš and Civic Democrats (ODS) leader Petr Fiala both dismissed the possibility of forming a government coalition together after the general election on October 8-9. Significantly, Fiala also rejected the possibility of governing alongside ANO without Babiš as leader.

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ODS is part of the centrist SPOLU electoral coalition which also includes the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) and TOP 09. Babiš said he does not want to go into coalition with ODS because he wants to win the election without help. Fiala retorted that ODS is seeking to rectify the political problems caused by ANO.

Senate may make official enquiries about President’s health condition

President Miloš Zeman should inform the public about his health condition in view of the forthcoming general election and if he does not do so, the Senate may make official enquiries about the state of his health, Senate Chairman Miloš Vystrčil said. The President’s health is assuming greater importance due to the likelihood that he will need to lead post-election coalition-forming negotiations following the vote on October 8-9.

In September, President Zeman spent eight days in Prague’s Central Military Hospital (ÚVN) due to dehydration and minor exhaustion. Immediately after being discharged, the President started work again. Zeman has long suffered from neuropathy in his legs and diabetes, and started using a wheelchair this year due to difficulties walking.

Sparta defeat rivals Slavia amid racism controversy

Sparta Prague football club defeated their age-old foes Slavia Prague 1-0 in the 10th match of the Czech league season. The defending Czech champions lost the Prague derby for the first time since March 2016, and suffered their first league defeat after a record 54 games unbeaten. The winning goal was scored by Sparta player Lukáš Haraslín just before half time.

The victory will be a welcome relief for Sparta fans from the negative publicity their club has received since a Europa League tie with Glasgow Rangers on Thursday night, when a crowd of 10,000 children, allowed into the ground in place of banned home supporters, were accused of racism towards Rangers player Glen Kamara. The British Ambassador to the Czech Republic has been summoned to the Czech Foreign Ministry to discuss the incident this morning.

National Theater legend Blanka Bohdanová dies aged 91

Czech actress and artist Blanka Bohdanová, who performed at Prague’s National Theatre for over 40 years and won two Thalia theater awards, has died in a Prague hospital at the age of 91. During her career spanning half a century, Bohdanová appeared in more than 80 roles on stage. The actress joined the National Theater in 1966 and performed there until 2010.

She also appeared in various film and television dramas, and turned her hand to painting following the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and the subsequent period of “normalization” in which her work as an actress was restricted. Bohdanová left the National Theatre when she turned 80, in the same year holding a large retrospective exhibition of her artworks in Prague’s New Town Hall.

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