Czech morning news in brief: top headlines for June 4, 2021

Britain backs Czech Republic in Russia feud, Babiš government survives no-confidence vote, and a Prague landmark defaced. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 04.06.2021 09:50:00 (updated on 04.06.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

Britain backs Czech Republic in diplomatic feud with Russia

UK Ambassador to the Czech Republic Nick Archer assured the Czech government of Britain's resolute support in the Vrbětice incident, Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek told ČTK after the diplomats' Thursday meeting. Czech weekly Respekt wrote that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent a letter to Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, in which he said Babiš should have spoken with him over the information on the implication of Russian agents in the incident. Czech intelligence services have well-grounded suspicions that Russia's GRU intelligence service agents were involved in the explosions of ammunition warehouses in Vrbetice, south Moravia, in 2014. Russia has denied any wrongdoing. Talks between Kulhánek and Archer also touched on Czech-British relations after Brexit, regular consultations between the ministries, and security cooperation. ČTK

Babiš government survives no-confidence vote

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš's minority cabinet of ANO and the Social Democrats (ČSSD) survived the no-confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies Thursday as the Communists walked out of the session when the vote was taken. At least 101 votes were needed in the 200-member lower house to topple the government. Babiš's cabinet faced the no-confidence motion for the third time. This time it was instigated by the opposition coalitions Together, comprised of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), and Pirates and Mayors and Independents (STAN). Opposition leaders argued that the government had mismanaged the fight against coronavirus and was unable to ensure strong international solidarity in the recent diplomatic rift with Russia. They also warned of Babiš's conflict of interest and criminal prosecution in the EU-subsidy affair. Babiš said his government was successful and has dismissed the conflict of interest on his part. ČTK

Wenceslas Square's iconic St. Wenceslas statue defaced

An unknown man pasted a sticker over the face of the landmark statue of St. Wenceslas on Wenceslas Square in Prague Thursday. Firefighters removed the sticker using a high-lift platform which led to traffic being temporarily stopped in the area. "Around 15:20, an unknown man climbed a ladder to the statue and stuck a sticker on it, then got in a car and drove off," a spokesman for the Prague police told reporters. According to an employee of the Galerie of the City of Prague, the statue was not damaged in any way. Police documented the incident and have not yet found any illegal actions involved though an investigation could change that.

World Bicycle Day celebrated with ride across Prague

Dozens took part in an annual spring bike ride in Prague Thursday aimed at drawing awareness to the importance of urban cycling as a means of transport. This year, the event took place on World Bicycle Day and was supported by representatives from a number of embassies. The ride went from Central Park in Pankrac to Wenceslas and Republic squares and finally Štvanice island, 8-km total. The number of cyclists in Prague has increased by 30 to 67 percent during the coronavirus crisis compared to the period before it, says AutoMat, the association which organizes the event. Several representatives of the Tricolour, Free Citizens, and Freeholder parties attempted to block the ride claiming that cycling is being favored and politicized, while car drivers are "systematically persecuted and restricted" in the capital. Police officers prevented the blockade. About three-quarters of Czech cyclists use their bikes at least once a week, while mountain bikes are the most popular, being used by about a half of cyclists, according to a poll conducted by ČTK

Average Czech wages increase but swallowed by inflation

The average gross monthly wage in the Czech Republic reached CZK 35,285 in the first quarter of this year according to newly released data from the Czech Statistical Office (CZSO). This represents a 3.2 percent jump over last year, however, due to increasing prices, its purchasing power increased by only one percent. According to a breakdown of economic activities by industry, the average wage compared to the corresponding period of 2020 decreased the most in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector (5.1%) and accommodation and food service industries (2.6%). On the contrary, the highest growth was reported in the real estate sector (12.2%), health and social work jobs (11.3%), and by suppliers of electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning (4.9%). The gender pay gap persists: the median wage for men reached CZK 32,235 and the median wage for women was CZK 27,237. Read the full data set from CZSO here.

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