Security agency warns of increased cyber attack risk in the Czech Republic

Plus: Czech team jets off to Beijing Winter Olympics, ex-minister's eye-popping Insta spend revealed, and PPF to buy-out remaining O2 shares. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 28.01.2022 09:31:00 (updated on 28.01.2022) Reading time: 5 minutes

14:29 Security agency warns of possible cyber attacks

The Czech Republic's strategic state institutions, media and critical information infrastructure should brace themselves for an increased risk of cyber attacks and espionage due to the tension at the Russian-Ukrainian border. This warning was issued today by the National Cyber and Information Security Agency. Attacks could constitute cyber spying operations orchestrated by foreign powers or attacks to harvest Czech data. The agency called attention to 19 possible modes of attack, and 14 frequently neglected vulnerabilities.

14:26 Ukrainian ambassador thanks Czechs for support

The ambassador of Ukraine to the Czech Republic Yevhen Perebyinis has thanked the country for its moral and material support in ongoing tensions with Russia. Perebyinis met Czech parliament deputy chief Jan Bartošek today to discuss the situation. On Wednesday, the Czech Republic approved the delivery of 4,000 artillery shells to Ukraine, joining other NATO member states in sending military aid to the threatened nation. Bartošek today said "the future of Europe is happening on the border of Ukraine." Military aid has also been sent to Ukraine by the USA, Great Britain, Denmark, Canada and the Baltic states.

11:18 Okamura looks to block postal voting for Czechs

Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party leader Tomio Okamura confirmed today that it will obstruct a motion to allow Czechs living abroad to send postal votes in Czech elections. The SPD argues that allowing postal votes would open up the possibility of election fraud. The change was suggested by the Czech Senate following requests from Czech expat groups. The Czech Republic is one of only five EU states to not allow postal voting from abroad. It's possible that the SPD's opposition to postal voting is linked to a concern that allowing Czechs living abroad to vote would benefit the governing parties more than the opposition.

10:15 Strong wind and snow warnings still in place

Weather warnings are still in place for the entire Czech Republic over strong winds and snow. Wind speeds are hitting 55-70 kilometers per hour in place, in the mountains reaching as high as 100 kph. This morning firefighters had to rescue two stranded buses and several trucks on the roads. Meteorologists recommend limiting hikes in the mountains and staying away from ridges and drops. There is also a risk of damage to trees, with fallen trees and branches potential causing traffic complications.

Sport Czech team heads to Beijing Winter Olympics

The Czech Winter Olympics team has jetted off from Prague to Beijing. On Thursday evening 69 athletes and a further 70 additional team members left from Václav Havel airport amid strict security measures to minimize their risk of Covid infection before the Games begin.

No interviews were allowed and fans were not able to approach the athletes for signatures. With the heightened Covid measures, the Czech Olympic Committee was trying to avoid a repeat of a flight to the Tokyo Summer Olympics last year which left several team members Covid-positive. The Winter Olympics team landed in China at five o’clock this morning, with team members taking a further PCR test at the airport before heading to one of three Olympic villages.

Politics Ex-minister’s eye-popping Instagram spend revealed

It has been revealed that former Minister of Finance Alena Schillerová spent nearly CZK 2 million of public money on maintaining her Facebook and Instagram profiles during her time in office. Schillerová has long stated her fondness for social media platforms, calling herself a “completely ordinary woman,” but according to Seznam Zpravy her hobby involved the hiring of a photographer and cameraman at the Ministry of Finance with costs totaling CZK 1,930,769 from September 23, 2020 to November 30, 2021.

Professional photographer David Šedivý and cameraman Jakub Konečný ended their work at the Ministry of Finance in November just two days after the opposition coalition won the general election. Schillerová has so far refused to answer questions on whether her social media spend amounts to good use of public finances.

Business PPF to buy remaining O2 shares

Majority shareholder PPF will buy the remaining shares in the O2 Czech Republic telecommunications company. O2 shareholders agreed to the buy-out at a general meeting on Wednesday. 91.9 per cent of the shareholders were in favor of the move. Shares in O2 will then be withdrawn by PPF from the Prague Stock Exchange.

The purchase should be completed by the middle of the year. O2’s shares have been listed on the Prague Stock Exchange since 1995, with the operator originally called SPT Telecom, later changing to Český Telecom and later O2 Czech Republic. Following the buy-out this year, PPF will fully integrate O2 into the PPF Telecom Group. O2 provides telecommunications and internet services to 5.97 million mobile clients and 855,000 internet users in the Czech Republic.

Czech-Polish dispute Fiala optimistic about Turów mine talks

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala told a radio program yesterday that negotiations on the controversial Turów lignite mine at the Polish-Czech border could end in agreement in the coming weeks. Fiala said he has been in contact with his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki, and that both parties want a deal to be struck which will be acceptable to the Czech Liberec Region bordering Poland.

Fiala said that while some points must still be hashed out “the lack of agreement is in no one’s interests.” A resolution must still be reached in a dispute over compensation demanded by the Czech Republic for environmental losses caused by the mine: the Czech Republic wants €50 million while Poland has offered €40 million.

Czech beer Plastic beer bottles are disappearing in Czechia

Plzeňský Prazdroj will permanently PET-bottled beer from its range, with the last such plastic bottles now being sold in stores. The company is cutting out this kind of bottling material because it cannot be recycled to produce new beer bottles. This is a result of an inner protective membrane in place to maintain the quality of beer.

Recycled PET bottles can be used to make other products such as carpets, but beer companies want to ensure the sustainability of their own business. Kozel will also do away with PET bottles. Beer will now only be offered in glass bottles, barrels, tanks or cans. Prazdroj said cutting out PET bottles will save over 1,300 tons of plastic a year.

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