Czech daily news roundup: Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022

Strong winds hitting the Czech Republic today, Zeman criticizes U.S. intelligence over Ukraine, Ledecká competes again in Beijing finishing fourth.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 17.02.2022 09:44:00 (updated on 17.02.2022) Reading time: 5 minutes

16:20 Czech troops may join NATO forces in Eastern Europe

NATO Defense Ministers today negotiated about the formation of new permanent units on the Alliance's eastern flank. Czech soldiers might be included in these new units, Czech Defense Minister Jana Černochová said after the meeting in Brussels. NATO is concerned about Russian aggression at the Ukrainian border; Russia said it is withdrawing troops, but NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Alliance has seen no evidence that this is the case.

15:59 Czechia to withdraw troops from Mali

The Czech Republic will withdraw its soldiers deployed in Mali as part of the Takuba mission against Islamist militias. Defense Minister Jana Černochová said the coalition of countries involved in the mission decided to withdraw in response to political developments in Mali, which make the conditions for an effective mission impossible. The planned withdrawal from the country will begin in the next few weeks. It's possible that the troops will be redeployed elsewhere in West Africa, but so far Czechia has not received any request for their deployment.

12:00 Zeman describes Article 66 discussions as attempted coup

Czech President Miloš Zeman described discussions about removing him from office by triggering Article 66 of the Czech constitution during his hospitalization last year as "a certain attempt at a coup" in a newspaper interview yesterday. The President claimed the events may have to be examined from the legal point of view, singling out the conduct of Senate Chairman Miloš Vystrčil and independent Senator Pavel Fischer for criticism. Zeman said Prague's Central Military Hospital asked Vystrčil not to publish a report into his health condition as it was out of date, but he went ahead and made it public anyway.

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11:17 Car production fell to twelve-year low in January

Czech car production fell by 11.4 percent year-on-year in January to 92,657 vehicles. This was the worst result for January recorded in the Czech Republic since 2010. The reason for the significant downturn is still a lack of vital semi-conductor chips, as well as a change in the Toyota brand's production program. One in ten cars made in the Czech Republic in January was electric, according to the Association for the Automotive Industry.

10:48 People warned to stay out of Šumava forests

Very strong winds mean people should enter forests in the Šumava National Park today, according to the spokesperson for the par authorities. People should also avoid mountain hikes in the region. Significant danger is posed by falling branches and trees uprooted by strong winds. This morning, the number of households without electricity in South Boehmia rose to 15,000, with the most affected areas being Český Krumlov, Prachatice, and Jindřichův Hradec.

10:00 Fiala seeks talks with Austria over nuclear power

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala wants to negotiate with Austrian Chancellor Karel Nehammer regarding the Czech position on nuclear energy during an EU summit this week. Fiala wants to impress upon Nehammer the importance of nuclear energy developments for the Czech Republic's energy strategy, to counter Austrian hostility to the Czech nuclear program. Austria plans to bring a legal case to the European Court of Justice over the EU's decision to classify nuclear and natural gas as "green" energy sources.

09:30 West must stay united on Ukraine, says Fiala

According to Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, western states must maintain a clear, united position on the situation in Ukraine, warning that Russia respects no international borders. Fiala claimed the EU and NATO have adopted firm and clear positions on tensions at the Russian-Ukrainian border, and that attempts to resolve the situation diplomatically must continue. Fiala noted that conflict only 300 kilometers from the Czech Republic's eastern border would b "extremely close".

Weather Strong winds hitting the Czech Republic today

Strong winds are hitting the Czech Republic today, including in the capital city Prague. Almost 100,000 households have already been left without power due to the powerful gusts, with the situation worst in the Karlovy Vary and Central Bohemia regions, according to energy companies ČEZ and E.ON.

Most power failures have been caused by fallen trees or branches and consequent damage to electricity cables. Meteorologists are predicting strong winds throughout the whole of the Czech Republic until midnight tonight. At lower altitudes, gusts are hitting speeds of 90 km/h, while in the mountains winds of up to 181 km/h have been measured.

Politics Zeman criticizes U.S. intelligence over Ukraine

Czech President Miloš Zeman has described warnings of an imminent attack by Russia on Ukraine as another blunder by U.S. intelligence services in an interview with Mladá fronta Dnes. Zeman said he does not expect Russia to launch any attack, repeating his belief that a war would do Russia more harm than good.

Still, Zeman didn’t rule out the possibility that the tense situation could lead to localized conflicts in pro-Russian separatist regions in eastern Ukraine. U.S. officials have repeatedly warned of the possibility of an invasion over recent days. “This is the third blunder [by the U.S. secret services],” said Zeman. “The first was Iraq, where no weapons of mass destruction were found. The second was Afghanistan, when they claimed the Taliban would never conquer Kabul. And here is the third.”

Sport Ledecká competes again in Beijing, finishes fourth

Czech star Ester Ledecká finished fourth in the women’s combined downhill event at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. The discipline combines a run of the fastest downhill alpine skiing course with a slalom course including many turns and twists. Ledecká was not favorite for the event, as she specializes in speed skiing.

After the downhill race, she was positioned second, and after her slalom run a medal was still possible. But three skiers subsequently finished with a combined time faster than Ledecká, putting the Czech down in fourth place.

Czech life Czech nuns driving a bobcat take the internet by storm

The relocation of Carmelite Nuns from a monastery in Prague to the village of Drasty to the east of Prague has piqued international interest after images emerged of nuns driving Bobcat loaders while creating their new convent complex.

The Sisters of the order described the need to clear their new home of overgrowth, and that lacking money to hire external workers for the job, they chose to get their hands dirty instead. This meant learning to drive tractors, use chainsaws and brushcutters, and operate Bobcat loader vehicles. The Bobcats received particularly positive reviews from the nuns for their versatility and strength.

Cost of living Fuels are at their most expensive for months

Fuels in the Czech Republic have risen in price steadily over the past week and they are now at their highest level since last November. A liter of petrol is currently being sold at an average of CZK 37.13, CZK 0.35 more than a week ago. A liter of diesel is being sold for CZK 36.06, CZK 0.29 more than last week.

Price rises for petrol and diesel are being driven by global shortages, and drivers now face paying around CZK 8.40 more per liter on average than they were this time a year ago. Fuels are cheapest in the Karlovy Vary region, but most expensive in Prague.

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