Warm weather is finally coming to Czechia this week

Plus: Czech Army steps up recruitment, poll shows stronger support for Babiš, Plzeň's Great Synagogue re-opens.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 11.04.2022 09:27:00 (updated on 11.04.2022) Reading time: 5 minutes

15:18 Russian intelligence activities thwarted by Czech expulsions

The Director of the Czech Security Information Services, Michal Koudelka, has claimed Russian intelligence activities have been drastically reduced in the Czech Republic as a result of diplomatic expulsions over the past year. At a security conference in the Czech parliament today, Koudelka said Russia is now unable to conduct major intelligence operations on Czech territory. Only six diplomatic and 25 technical and administrative staff now work at the Russian Embassy in Prague.

14:16 Babiš and Pavel favorites for presidency, says poll

Leader of the opposition Andrej Babiš and retired army General Petr Pavel are the two frontrunners to be the next Czech president, according to a new poll from the Median polling institute released today. The poll predicts Babiš would currently get 25 percent of the vote and Pavel would get 20 percent. The pair lead by a significant margin over other options, including senator Pavel Fischer, economist Danuše Nerudová, and billionaire Karel Janeček. Neither Babiš nor Pavel have yet committed themselves to running in the election next year, although the participation of both is widely expected.

11:00 Warmer weather is coming to Czechia this week

The Czech Republic will see a gradual warming this week with the highest temperatures forecast by meteorologists for Thursday, when the 20 degrees Celsius barrier could be broken. The coming days will be mostly sunny, with temperatures to reach 18 degrees tomorrow before approaching 20 on Wednesday and Thursday. Temperatures are then expected to cool again over the Easter holidays, with some rain showers also likely. Night frosts are forecast to continue until Tuesday this week.

10:00 Another billionaire announces Czech presidency bid

Another candidate has thrown his hat into the ring for next year's Czech presidential race. Tomáš Březina, one of the richest Czechs, will formally announce his candidacy on Wednesday this week, confirming his intention to business daily Hospodářské noviny. Březina assured the portal that he "hasn't gone crazy" but that he wants to build "a better Czechia." Březina's candidacy comes after another super-rich business, Karel Janeček, also decided to run for president in 2023. Březina's political leanings are not clear, although he previously criticized Andrej Babiš's ANO movement as "a marketing project."

09:00 Prague Metro C line shuts down due to graffiti artists

Prague's Metro C line ceased operating for more than an hour between Ládví and Florenc this morning because it was thought graffiti artists were moving on the tracks at Nádraží Holešovice station. A subsequent police search did not reveal any miscreants but did uncover a damaged metro carriage. The police are continuing to search for those thought to have trespassed on non-public areas and damaged the metro carriage. The metro is now running as normal.

Military Czech Army steps up recruitment

The Czech Army is stepping up its recruitment plans for this year, likely as a response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and increased military spending. Instead of the originally planned intake of 700 recruits, some 1,800 men and women are now expected to join the army this year. The increase is being attributed to a decision from Minister of Defense Jana Černochová.

Interest in joining both the regular army and the Czech Republic’s active reserve forces has increased since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. There are currently 27,000 people in the Czech Army, a figure expected to increase by 3,000 between now and 2030.

Politics Poll: ruling coalition would win election but Babiš strengthens

A new election poll from the Kantar CZ polling agency suggests the “Together” (SPOLU) coalition would win a Czech general election held today, with 31.5 percent of the vote. However, Andrej Babiš’s ANO party has strengthened since October’s general election and would gain 29 percent of the vote.

Third place would go to the Pirates+STAN coalition with 15.5 percent of the vote, while the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party would get 9.5 percent. The election modelers noted that positive perceptions of Prime Minister Petr Fiala are growing as a result of his handling of the Ukraine crisis, leading to increased support for the Civic Democrats, his party within the SPOLU electoral coalition.

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Religion Europe’s second-largest synagogue to re-open in Plzeň

Plzeň’s Great Synagogue, the second largest synagogue in Europe and one of five largest in the world, reopened yesterday evening after a three-year restoration project. A march through the city brought the Torah from the nearby Old Synagogue to the Great Synagogue, with hundreds of people taking part including rabbis and representatives from the Jewish community throughout the country.

The placement of the Torah scroll in the Torah Ark signified the revival of religious life in the Great Synagogue, according to Plzeň Jewish community Deputy Chairman Roman Stix. The Synagogue is open to the public as of today from 10:00 to 17:00 every day except Saturdays and Jewish holidays.

Zoo Elephant causes injury at Prague Zoo

An elephant at Prague Zoo injured a zookeeper yesterday morning. A 31-year-old woman had to be taken to hospital by paramedics with injuries to her pelvis, chest and arm after the incident with Tamara, an elephant originally from Sri Lanka.

Rescue staff were called to the zoo at 08:00, after an incident which a spokesperson for the zoo described as highly unusual in the Czech Republic. More information about the event will be released after an investigation. Elephants have been bred in Prague Zoo since 1933, and the zoo currently houses nine elephant inhabitants.

Culture Karel Gott biography wins Book of the Year

A biography of beloved Czech singer Karel Gott has won the Magnesia Litera 2022 prize for Book of the Year. “Gott: A Czechoslovak Story” was written by music journalist Pavel Klusák and acts as a window into the era through the lens of Gott’s life and career.

The jury said Klusák’s book contextualizes Gott’s life within the country’s political and cultural history, while charting changes in the development of pop music over several generations. Gott was at the pinnacle of Czech music for six decades, with fans in Czechoslovakia as well as Germany, Poland and Russia. He died in 2019. The Magnesia Litera awards are awarded annually by representatives of the Czech literary sphere across various categories.

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