Police detain Czechs smuggling marijuana to Britain

Plus: Miloš Forman would have been 90 today, President Zeman to appear in parliament, damage being assessed after strong winds in Czechia.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 18.02.2022 09:46:00 (updated on 18.02.2022) Reading time: 5 minutes

16:03 Sáblíková to carry flag at Winter Olympics closing ceremony

Veteran speed skater Martina Sáblíková, who won a bronze medal in the women's 5,000 meter race at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, will carry the Czech flag at the closing ceremony for the Games on Sunday. The Czech Republic won only two medals at the Games, with Ester Ledecká taking home gold in the women's snowboard parallel giant slalom. Sáblíková's bronze was the 100th Olympic medal won by the Czech Republic since becoming an independent country in 1993.

16:02 Czech court admits extradition of Russian man to Ukraine

The extradition of Russian Alexander Franchetti to Ukraine over his participation in illegal paramilitary activity during Russia's annexation of Crimea was allowed by the Prague Municipal Court today. Franchetti has filed a complaint against the ruling with the High Court, though, meaning he cannot yet be extradited. The Czech Justice Minister can make a final decision on the extradition, which is opposed by Russia.

15:23 Havlíček elected parliament Deputy Speaker

The last remaining position of Deputy Speaker of the Chamber in the Czech parliament has been taken by former Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček, for the ANO party. Havlíček defeated Freedom and Direct Democracy nominee Tomio Okamura for the role in a vote by MPs. Havlíček attained 106 parliamentary votes for the position, while Okamura got only 22. The appointment gives the ANO party a greater voice in parliament with a deputy to the Speaker of the House, TOP 09 MP Markéta Pekarová Adamová.

13:18 Police detain Czechs smuggling marijuana to Britain

The National Drug Centre (NPC) has detained a group of eight Czechs accused of growing marijuana in Czechia for several years and selling it mainly to Britain and Ireland, the NPC wrote in a press release today. The drug packages were sent abroad regularly, at least once every two weeks. The Czech police made the arrest with colleagues from Britain, Ireland, and Germany. The suspected group of Czechs operated in North Bohemia. They processed and sold the marijuana they were growing indoors. During a home search, the police seized seven grow bed facilities, 449 hemp plants, 16 kg of marijuana, 200 g of cocaine plus a large number of various mobile phones and electronic devices, 14 firearms including bullets and cash, and the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of crowns in various currencies.

12:18 Zeman lambasts proposed budget in parliament

The government's budget for the coming year will not curb inflation and it does not encourage growth either, President Miloš Zeman said to the lower house of the Czech parliament today. Zeman even claimed the proposed budget will make inflation worse. The bill does not cancel tax exemptions costing the state CZK 380 billion, he noted, while calling on the government to increase individual income tax to boost state revenues. Zeman spoke for around 30 minutes about the proposed budget, and accused the government of lacking the political courage to create a budget resulting in a surplus instead of the forecast CZK 280 billion deficit.

Film Miloš Forman would have been 90 today

Czech film director Miloš Forman would have turned 90 today. Forman is credited with creating some of the greatest films of the Czechoslovak New Wave before enjoying a successful career in Hollywood. Forman won two Oscars for Best Director, for the classic films One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1976, and Amadeus in 1985.

Other Hollywood films included The People vs. Larry Flint and Man on the Moon. Prior to his international success, Forman had been at the forefront of the Czechoslovak film industry, directing classics such as Loves of a Blonde, Black Peter and The Fireman’s Ball. Forman died in Connecticut, U.S.A. in 2018 at the age of 86.

Budget President Zeman to appear in parliament today

Czech President Miloš Zeman will make a rare appearance in the Czech parliament today for a debate on the government’s draft budget for this year. MPs are expected to approve the basic parameters of the budget including revenues, expenditures, deficit, and its division between ministries. The budget submitted by Petr Fiala’s government includes a deficit of CZK 280 billion.

MPs will also vote this afternoon on overturning the Senate’s rejection of the amendment to the Pandemic Law. The opposition has used the parliament’s inability to push through the Pandemic Law as evidence of the coalition regime’s inability to govern, although the passage of the bill has been repeatedly obstructed by opposition parties themselves.

Weather Damage being assessed after strong winds in Czechia

Strong winds across most of the Czech Republic yesterday hampered rail and road traffic, stopped operations at ski resorts and left hundreds of thousands of households without electricity. Last night, around 50,000 homes remained cut off from the power grid.

Firefighters were called out to 4,500 cases, mostly tackling fallen trees and broken branches. Railway authorities faced 141 separate cases of traffic problems caused by wind, mostly in Bohemia. After the strongest winds yesterday morning, over 300,000 households were without power, with the situation worst in East Bohemia. At low altitudes winds reached speeds of 90 km/h, but hurricane-strength gusts of 181 km/h were recorded in the Krkonoše mountains.

Crime Government drafts anti-terror bill

The Czech Interior Ministry has drafted a bill, based on EU directives, allowing Czech police to order Czech and European online hosting services to make terrorist content inaccessible. If passed by parliament, the law would enable police to contact platforms containing terrorism-related videos to order the removal of the offending content within an hour.

The authors of the bill said that as the Czech Republic does not have major problems with online terrorist propaganda, emphasis is being placed on minimizing problems for online businesses. Only a handful of terrorism-related videos are detected in the Czech Republic each year. But the police will also be empowered to order the removal of such content from major international platforms based elsewhere in the EU.

Politics Czech political parties received a billion crowns from state in 2021

Czech political parties received a total of CZK 1 billion in state contribution in 2021, with contributions to Andrej Babiš’s ANO movement the highest at CZK 290.2 million. The Civic Democrats, led by current Prime Minister Petr Fiala, received CZK 167.8 million.

The state contributes to political parties based on their number of MPs and elected representatives in regional and municipal bodies. The more elected representatives a party has, the more money it gets from the state. Even parties who fail to pass the 5 percent threshold for entering parliament get some money from the state to help fund their activities, with groups getting at least 3 percent receiving an annual contribution.

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