Czech morning news in brief: Top headlines for September 13, 2021

Taliban government will not be recognized by Czech Republic, Babiš's son to testify against father, unique heritage construction project completed.

Expats.cz

Written by Expats.cz
Published on 13.09.2021 09:44 (updated on 13.09.2021)

Foreign Minister says Czech Republic will not recognize Taliban government

By no means should the Czech Republic recognize the Taliban government in Afghanistan, although it will be necessary to communicate with it somehow, Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek has said, adding that a coordinated EU approach to the issue is vital. The Taliban announced an interim cabinet on Tuesday, three weeks after seizing power in Afghanistan following the departure of Allied troops.

The EU has complained about the lack of diversity in the new government. Kulhánek said the Czech Republic will not be in the front line of negotiations with the Taliban, so working out a shared EU response will be key. Communication with the Taliban government is needed on issues such as humanitarian aid and migration; Kulhánek said “we definitely do not want Afghan migration to reach Europe.”

Prime Minister’s son to testify in Stork’s Nest case today

The son of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš will testify to police today over the Stork’s Nest affair, in which a CZK 50 million EU subsidy was used for construction at the Stork’s Nest farm originally owned by Babiš’s Agrofert holding. Andrej Babiš Jr. claims the affair was planned by his father and that he was used as a frontman for the operation.

Babiš Jr. also claims he was later abducted and sent to Crimea during previous police investigations of the affair. After receiving EU subsidies, the Stork’s Nest farm was returned to Babiš’s Agrofert, which was later transferred into trust funds in 2017. Investigators accuse Babiš of damaging the financial interests of the European Union and committing subsidy fraud.

Russian paramilitary chief arrested at Prague Airport

Police have arrested Russian citizen Alexandr Franchetti, known for his involvement in events leading to the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, at Prague Airport. The arrest was the result of an international warrant issued by Ukraine, a Czech police spokesperson said. Ukraine has accused Franchetti of leading one of the paramilitary units that actively assisted in the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Franchetti has previously confirmed that his group cooperated with the Russian Navy.

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In 2019, it was reported that Franchetti has a permanent residence permit in the Czech Republic and works as a fitness coach, living alternately in Prague and Crimea. Russia’s chief investigator has demanded that the circumstances of the arrest be thoroughly checked, while the press secretary at the Russian embassy in Prague said Russian diplomats are talking to the Czech authorities about the incident.

Cost of mobile data in the Czech Republic halves

The price of mobile data has halved in the Czech Republic over the last two years and has seen a tenfold reduction since 2011. The decline is mainly due to the introduction of unlimited data tariffs and greater competition driving down prices, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Only two years ago, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš criticized the high price of mobile data in the Czech Republic, saying they were among the highest in Europe.

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Today, the volume of data being used in the Czech Republic is 200 percent greater than it was in 2019, according to the Ministry. An international comparison has shown that 1 GB of data now costs less in the Czech Republic than it does in Slovakia, Greece, Portugal or Germany.

Czech Baroque site being completed in unique project

The Plzeň region is rebuilding the Mariánská Týnice Baroque pilgrimage site in order to complete the complex which its famous architect, Jan Blažej Santini-Aichel, left uncompleted 300 years ago. As part of this project, a missing eastern area with chapels has been constructed, said region deputy governor Marek Ženíšek. The pilgrimage site, built from 1711 to 1768, is a national cultural heritage site.

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The newly construed chapel area has been added based strictly on Santini’s plans to make the site, consisting of a church and a former Cistercian provostry, into a closed symmetrical unit. Ženíšek said that the Plzeň region reached an agreement on the project with heritage conservationists, who had initially been skeptical about modern additions to the site.

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