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

Czechs observe a minute of silence for COVID deaths today, police break up parties at closed Prague venues this weekend, and spring temps on their way.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 22.03.2021 09:54 (updated on 22.03.2021)

Million Moments calls on people to honor victims of COVID-19

Czechs should honor the memory of those who died with coronavirus by drawing a little cross on the respirators they are bound to wear within the current anti-virus restrictions, the Million Moments for Democracy civic group said Sunday, adding that the cross should also symbolize the ineffectiveness of the government's COVID combat. "The cross on the respirator is a symbol showing that the cabinet has simply written off Czech citizens, caring for nothing but its profit and media image," Million Moments' leader Benjamin Roll wrote in an appeal, branding the Andrej Babis government "a cabinet of wasted lives" when foreign examples show that effective measures do exist. The appeal marks the March 22 first anniversary of the Czech Republic's first COVID-related death. The death toll has reached 24,331 since, making the Czech Republic the world's second-worst afflicted state in the number of deaths per population.

 According to photos shared in the Facebook group Praha číslo 1, over 22,000 crosses have appeared chalked onto the cobblestones of Prague's Old Town Square; the crosses have been attributed to the Million Moments group.

Russian diplomat's Czech arrest resulted in embassy purges

The case of a Russian diplomat Czech police arrested last June for illegally buying ammunition has resulted in mutual purges at the two countries' embassies, Czech Radio (CRo) reported this Monday morning, citing Czech diplomatic and security service sources. The tense Czech-Russian relations were supposed to be settled by bilateral consultations, which, however, still have not begun, CRo said. "Since last summer, Russia has gradually expelled or rejected the Czech Republic's three official military diplomats, which means a half of the military section at the Czech embassy in Moscow. The Czech side reacted strictly based on the principle of reciprocity," CRo said.

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The arrested diplomat, whom the police detained in Říčany near Prague, was Yevgeni Borisenko, an official military attache at the Russian embassy in Prague. The Czech Foreign Ministry would not comment on the arrest's consequences, citing the sensitivity of the case. The Russian Foreign Ministry has not answered CRo's question at all.

Police intervened in three open restaurants in Prague through the weekend

Prague police officers shut down two open restaurants and one bar on Saturday. Several bags of cocaine were discovered in the bar, Jan Daněk, a spokesman for the Prague police, wrote on the police website Sunday. Restaurants and nightclubs are currently closed by government mandate due to the coronavirus epidemic. "There were two restaurants in Prague 2 and 6, and one bar on the Old Town Square," Daněk said. There were a total of 27 people in the restaurants and 40 people in the bar. In order for the police to get to the bar, they had to cut a lock because patrons refused to open the door. "In connection with the discovery of drugs, criminal proceedings were initiated in the case for the criminal offense of possession of narcotics and psychotropic substances," he added.

New fund to significantly boost biotechnological start-ups

A fund for biotechnological start-ups will be founded in the Czech Republic this year in cooperation with i&i Prague biotechnological incubator and the European Investment Fund (EIF), offering over CZK one billion for the start-ups' operation in the next five years, Dusan Brinzanik said today. Brinzanik represents the Academy of Sciences' Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry (UOCHB), of whose innovative ecosystem i&i Prague is a part. The EIF provides risk investments especially to new firms and firms dealing with technologies. The new fund will mainly target the spin-off firms in the science branch, medicine, and biotechnologies that arise from academic workplaces in the Czech Republic and neighboring states. Already now, enormous interest in the financial support has been shown by Czech universities and other research institutions," i&i Prague director Jaromir Zahradka said.

After a frosty weekend temps could hit 15°C this week

On Saturday, the afternoon temperatures were around 0°C and the average night temperatures on Sunday night reached -6.2°C. But while the frosty weekend weather did not resemble the beginning of astronomical spring, the end of the week could see spring finally arrive. The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute predicts the influx of cold air will weaken in the second half of the week with temps expected to rise to 10°C to 15°C from Friday to Sunday.

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