Czech daily news roundup: Friday, April 1, 2022

Protests at Prague Castle call for Zeman’s resignation, National Bank raises interest rates again, Czechia freezes Russian oligarch’s assets.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 01.04.2022 09:30:00 (updated on 01.04.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

Crime Famous psychiatrist Cimický accused of dozens of rapes

Czech police have accused famous psychiatrist and write Jan Cimický of rape and blackmail, with criminologists saying that he committed 29 cases of rape and blackmail between 1980 and 2016. Police officers announced the start of the prosecution proceedings against Cimický today; the psychiatrist has previously rejected all accusation. Allegations of sexual abuse against patients emerged last autumn, when actress and singer Jana Fabiánová accused Cimický of past sexual assault, leading other former patients to come forward with similar allegations.

Business Air Bank sees 50 percent profit increase

The Air Bank Group has reported net profits of CZK 2,252 billion last year, a year-on-year increase of 50 percent. The results follow huge profit increases reported by other banks in the country for last year. The Air Bank group belongs to the PPF Group, the investment company founded by late Czech billionaire Petr Kellner. Last year, Air Bank announced a planned merger with Moneta Money Bank, which is still subject to approval by regulators.

Politics Protests at Prague Castle call for Zeman’s abdication

Following Czech President Miloš Zeman’s controversial pardon for the head of forest administration at his Lány presidential estate over corruption charges, dozens of people gathered in front of Prague Castle yesterday to call for the president’s abdication. Protestors called Zeman variously a “mafia” boss or a “Rusian cockroach,” and chanted “Miloš in the trash!”.

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Zeman’s previously close ties with Russia were a key part of the demonstrations, although Zeman has been unequivocal in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The event on Hradčanské náměstí was organized by the Million Moments for Democracy campaigning organization, who said that Zeman’s pardon for his forest administrator “makes a mockery of all Czech citizen, especially judges.”

Economy National Bank raises interest rates again

The Czech National Bank raised base interest rates by another 0.5 percent yesterday to 5 percent, the highest rate seen since 2001. The chief economist at the bank said that low unemployment means the bank can focus on fighting inflation by raising interest rates, although it's thought inflation will continue to rise this year having hit 11.1 percent in February.

The bank board said they are ready to continue raising interest rates to keep inflation under control amid fears of the effects of the war in Ukraine on consumer prices. National Bank governor Jiří Rusnok said restoring stability to prices is the number one priority for the bank. Yet a higher interest rate will mean more expensive loans for mortgages and other investments.

Russia Czechia freezes Russian oligarch’s assets

Russian oligarch Mikhail Guceriev attempted to pass CZK 748 million through a Czech account to the British Virgin Islands after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the Czech police intervened and his assets have been frozen. Guceriev is the majority owner of the Safmar Group conglomerate operating across various sectors in Russia.

When Czech police seized the hundreds of millions of crowns which Guceriev put into a Czech account, it was moments away from being sent on to the British Virgin Islands. Guceriev has been on EU and British sanctions lists due to his close relations with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko. His assets frozen in Czechia are the single largest amount seized by the domestic authorities since the Russian invasion began. It’s unclear why Guceriev chose to pass money through a Czech account, as he does not do business in the country.

Culture Popular Czech illustrator Jiří Šalamoun dies aged 86

Popular Czech illustrator Jiří Šalamoun, who became famous for his drawings in books and TV shows about the Czechoslovak cartoon character Maxipes Fík, has died aged 86. Fík first appeared on Czech TV screens in 1976, telling stories about the dog Fík and little girl Ája.

Šalamoun died at Prague’s General University Hospital, having provided illustrations for around a hundred books, and drawings for forty animated films. He also drew film and theater posters and created screenplays for several feature films, while putting on dozens of exhibitions and winning a number of international awards during his lifetime.

Crime Murdered teacher taught at school for over thirty years

Some details have been made public about the schoolteacher who was murdered in Prague yesterday. The 73-year-old man was a teacher at the secondary school in Prague 4 for over thirty years. He was also a yoga instructor, and was popular with both students and staff.

Known so far only as Jan K., the man specialized in electrical engineering. A colleague told CNN Prima News that the teacher was firm but fair, and taught mathematics to classes of all ages. The school’s principal also praised the teacher, whose murder with a machete led to a brief manhunt in Prague 4 yesterday afternoon.

Sport Half-marathon in Prague coming tomorrow

Thousands of runners will pass through the streets of Prague this Saturday for the 22nd Sportisimo half-marathon. The marathon is taking place for the first time since the Covid pandemic began. It typically causes some traffic disruption in the city center.

The race will start at ten o'clock on Jan Palach square, where it will also finish; it's thought the last runners should pass the finish line in the early afternoon. The 21-kilometer route passes through parts of Prague 1,2,5,7 and 8. A parking ban will temporarily be in place near the river Vltava, with cars left in restricted areas to be towed away.

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