Czech morning news in brief: top headlines for April 22, 2021

Czech foreign minister issues ultimatum to Russia, inquiry into Bečva River cyanide leak approved, and a Formula 1 race car tears over Charles Bridge. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 22.04.2021 09:54:00 (updated on 22.04.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

EU strongly condemns violation of Czech sovereignty

The European Union has condemned the illegal Russian activities in the Czech Republic and is disturbed by the violation of Czech sovereignty, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said on behalf of the EU 27 Wednesday. The statement was in reaction to the Czech secret services' findings that the Russian GRU military intelligence agents were involved in the explosions in the Vrbětice ammunition store, south Moravia, in 2014, which claimed two lives. In a joint statement issued on behalf of the whole of the EU 27, Borrell says the EU backs the Czech reaction and supports its efforts to punish the culprits. The EU condemned the inadequate Russian response and threats to the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic expelled 18 employees of the Russian embassy in Prague who were identified as Russian intelligence service agents in reaction to the information that Russian agents were behind the blast. Russia retaliated by expelling 20 employees of the Czech Embassy in Moscow.

Czech foreign minister issues ultimatum to Russia over expelled diplomats

Russia should allow the return of the 20 expelled Czech diplomats to the Czech embassy in Moscow by 12:00 on Thursday said, Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek who will decide on cutting Russian staff in Prague on Thursday afternoon if his ultimatum is not met. The number of Russian embassy employees should correspond with the number of Czech employees at the embassy in Moscow, Kulhánek said after meeting with Russian Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Alexandr Zmeyevsky, on Wednesday. President Miloš Zeman, and Prime Minister Andrej Babiš support the appeal. A Kremlin spokesman reiterated Putin's message that addressing Russia in the form of demands won't work. Currently there over 20 Russian diplomats in Prague, while in Moscow there are just five Czech diplomats. Yesterday the Czech Senate called the attack in Vrbětice an act of state terrorism against an EU member state and thus against the whole of the EU. It asked the government to withdraw from the agreement on friendly relations and cooperation with Russia.

U.S. State Department discourages travel to the Czech Republic

The U.S. State Department strongly discourages its citizens from traveling to most countries due to the coronavirus epidemic. The strong warning "do not travel" applies to most countries in Europe, including the Czech Republic. At least 116 countries around the world have been reassigned to the highest level of warning since the beginning of the week, news agency Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Inquiry into the leakage of cyanide into Bečva River approved

The Czech Chamber of Deputies approved the foundation of a commission investigating the September 2020 poisoning of the Becva River, central Moravia, today. The commission will have nine members, with each of the deputy groups to propose one of them. It will present its findings within five months after its establishment. Environment Minister Richard Brabec (ANO) said before the vote if the commission were founded, this would be a precedent since a commission would deal for the first time with a case still investigated by the police. The serious environmental accident damaged the river in the section between Valasske Mezirici and Prerov. The Czech Environmental Inspection (CIZP) says it was caused by cyanide. It leaked into the river on September 20, 2020, having damaged the whole water biotope and the conditions for all organisms bound to water in a 40-kilometer section of the river. Over 40 tonnes of poisoned fish were transported to a rendering plant.

Red Bull shares video of Formula 1 car zooming over Charles Bridge

In a video posting to its official Twitter account, Wednesday Red Bull's racing team revealed a video of Scottish former driver David Coulthard (or at least someone wearing his helmet) tearing across the streets of Prague in a 2011 Formula 1 monopost as part of an advertising campaign shot in iconic locations around the Czech capital. The shooting on Charles Bridge took place around 7 am. The production then moved to Hradčanské náměstí, where the car and crew were also accompanied by police motorcycles during filming. Czech news server reports that the lease of Charles Bridge was discussed and approved by the Prague 1 council a month ago. A one-time rate of CZK 250,000 was paid for the lease of Charles Bridge.

The Czech Republic ranks 18 out of 27 in yearly EU traffic accidents

According to preliminary data from the European Commission, approximately 18,800 people died on the roads in the European Union last year within 30 days of the accident, which is 4,000 less year-on-year. In the Czech Republic, there were 517 victims of traffic accidents, a year-on-year decrease of 100. Sweden remained the safest country with 18 deaths per million inhabitants; the Czech Republic is in 18th place with 48 deaths per million inhabitants. According to a press release from the Transport Research Center based in Brno, the report's lower number of fatal accidents reflects lower traffic intensity due to pandemic measures.

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