Czech daily news roundup: Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022

Parliament deadlocked again over pandemic law, Slovak truckers block the D2 motorway, Kulhánek named Czech ambassador to the UN.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 16.02.2022 09:21:00 (updated on 16.02.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

12:38 Alza reports huge turnover increase last year

Preliminary results for Alza show that the company increased its turnover by a fifth to CZK 45 billion excluding VAT last year. The e-shop handled around 18 million orders, an increase of 27 percent on 2020, serving a total of around 5.3 million customers. Profits weren't reported, but they are expected to follow previous growth trends; in 2020 net profit was CZK 2.1 billion, while in 2019 it was CZK 1.1 billion.

12:06 Czech biathletes finish eighth in Olympic relay

Czech biathletes finished in eighth place in the women's relay race at the Beijing Olympics. The team was down in 17th place after a poor first round, but Markéta Davidová pulled them back up to fifth before the final two racers slipped down to seventh and then eighth at the finish. The race was won by Sweden, with Russia finishing second and Germany third. Defending champions Belarus finished thirteenth after racking up five penalties for missed shots.

11:04 State fund sues ex-Prime Minister Babiš

The state-run Support and Guarantee Farming and Forestry Fund has sued the Agrofert group controlled by former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš over its refusal to return CZK 5 million in subsidies. Four firms from the Agrofert group have refused to return subsidies which the fund says they applied for wrongly, as they are intended for small- and medium-sized enterprises. The firms deny any wrongdoing and refuse to return the money.

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Politics Parliament deadlocked again over pandemic law

The lower house of the Czech parliament has become deadlocked again over attempts to approve an agenda for a meeting to discuss the amendment to the Pandemic Law already rejected by the Senate. The opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party has started another wave of obstruction to stop parliament debating the law.

After sixteen hours of deadlock, the house still couldn’t agree on an agenda, leaving government figures including Health Minister Vlastimil Válek in despair. SPD leader Tomio Okamura gave a six-hour, unfinished speech to disrupt the session. It’s now probable that the dispute over the Pandemic Law and parliamentary obstruction will go to the Constitutional Court.

Road protests Slovak truckers block the D2 motorway

Slovak truck drivers are causing large road blocks on the D2 motorway at the Czech border with Slovakia to protest against high excise taxes on fuels. The protest blockage formed close to the Břeclav-Kúty border crossing last night. The traffic jam quickly grew to over four kilometers long.

Truckers are blocking the right-hand lane of the motorway as well as stopping areas. They have said if the Slovak government does not invite them to negotiations today, they will also block major border crossings with Poland and Hungary. Truckers chose not to block the entire motorway for safety reasons.

Foreign relations Former FM Kulhánek becomes Czech ambassador to UN

Former Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek gave his credentials to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last night, officially becoming the Czech ambassador to the UN in New York.

Kulhánek confirmed the appointment of his Twitter account. The post of ambassador to the UN has been vacant since October, when Kulhánek’s predecessor departed to become Czech ambassador in London. Kulhánek worked as the head of the Czech Foreign Ministry from April 2021 until the end of the ANO-ČSSD government, managing the Czech diplomatic rift with Russia and rescue mission from Afghanistan.

Social media Gorilla goes viral with Prague Zoo tantrum

A young gorilla at Prague Zoo named Ajabu has made international headlines thanks to a video captured last month showing him throwing straw bedding around his enclosure, wriggling around on his back and spinning around in circles. Ajabu also pulled various bizarre faces, leading onlookers to say he was having a tantrum.

Others say Ajabu was showing off to visitors and that he was enjoying his wild time. The youngster has a history of performing; in 2020, he was photographed dancing and clapping for visitors, and was later filmed playfighting with his older brother.

Consumer prices Czechs to pay more than most for HBO Max

Online streaming service HBO Max will come to the Czech Republic on March 8. It’s now emerged that Czechs will pay significantly more than other EU countries for the service; audio-visual website avmania.cz converted the planned price of HBO Max in the Czech Republic into euros and found it to be significantly higher than elsewhere.

At full price, HBO Max will cost €8.10 in the Czech Republic. In Slovakia, it will cost €7.00 a month. In other non-eurozone countries in the region it will cost even less: in Hungary it will be €6.70, and in Poland €6.60. Although discounts are on offer for the arrival of the service, questions are now being asked about why the Czech Republic has been singled out for unusually expensive treatment.

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