Czech daily news roundup: Wednesday, March 30, 2022

State of emergency prolonged until May 31, Zeman issues controversial pardon, first Czech wounded in Ukraine. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 30.03.2022 09:16:00 (updated on 30.03.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Travel Prague Airport starts summer flight schedule

Prague Airport's summer flight schedule has started amid continued global travel turmoil. Routes to Ukraine and Russia have disappeared from the departure's board, while traffic strengthens to western European destinations. Some of the newly-offered destinations for flights from Prague Airport are Sicilian capital Palermo, Faro in Portugal, and the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Refugee Crisis State of emergency prolonged until May 31

The state of emergency in the Czech Republic, in place since March 4, has been extended by parliament until the end of May. The state of emergency was initiated because of the wave of refugees arriving from Ukraine following the Russian invasion of that country.

The extension of the emergency state until May 31 has attracted controversy due to the governing parties’ previous stern criticism of the overuse of mechanism by the ANO government during the Covid pandemic. Current opposition parties did not support the long prolongation proposed by the government, and the vote on its extension was preceded by a nine-hour debate. The constitutionality of the extension is also unclear, as states of emergency cannot usually be put in place for more than thirty days at a time.

President Zeman pardons Lány forest manager

Czech President Miloš Zeman has controversially granted a presidential pardon to Miloš Balák, the chief manager of a forest belonging to the presidential residence in Lány, where the presidential country estate is located. Balák was sentenced to time in jail for manipulating public procurements. Zeman’s pardon cited Balák’s otherwise clean criminal record and hard work.

Zeman claimed that the tough punishment handed down to Balák was evidently not the result of his misdeeds, but the fact that he worked on the Lány presidential forest. Balák was sentenced to three years in prison for corruption in a CZK 200 million public tender for forest management. Zeman has canceled Balák’s punishment entirely.

Ukraine Czech fighter wounded in Ukraine

A Czech volunteer fighting with Ukrainian forces against Russian invasion has been injured and is now being treated in Kyiv, according to Seznam Zpravy. The man suffered a chest injury. Hundreds of Czechs have expressed interest in fighting in the Ukrainian war, but it is unknown how many have actually gone to fight.

The Ministry of Defense currently has around 600 requests from Czechs seeking to join the Ukrainian armed forces, according to a spokesperson. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and President Miloš Zeman earlier agreed that criminal charges for those who leave to fight in the country can be waived, but due to the high number of applicants, it is not possible to grant them individual approval or collective consent.

Politics Babiš to undergo operation today

Former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš will undergo an operation in hospital today, unconnected with his recent stay in the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine (IKEM) in Prague. Babiš told radio station Frekvence 1 about the operation.

Babiš said the operation “has nothing to do with what happened to me last time, when my small intestine got blocked and I fell unconscious.” He did not specify what the coming procedure involves. Babiš stayed in hospital for a week earlier this month due to his blocked intestine, and doctors at IKEM will carry out more examinations soon. 

Skiing Polish man dies in Czech skiing collision

A 50-year-old Polish man has died after colliding with another skier on the slope at Špindlerův Mlýn in the Krkonoše mountains in Czechia. The incident took place on Monday but the fatality was confirmed by mountain rescue services yesterday.

This was the first fatality during this year’s winter ski season in the Czech Republic. Both skiers were seriously injured, with the Polish man knocked unconscious and subject to resuscitation attempts by ski resort employee. A defibrillator was used and the man was given oxygen. A doctor flown to the slope by helicopter soon afterwards pronounced the man dead. The second skier, also aged 50, was taken to hospital with back and face injuries.

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