Czech morning news in brief: Top headlines for October 21, 2021

Huge Prague fire causes millions in damage, questions swirl around Babiš criminal case, outgoing Chamber of Deputies dissolves today.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 21.10.2021 09:47 (updated on 21.10.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Prague incinerator fire causes huge damage

Damage caused by a fire in the Prague-Malešice incineration plant is estimated to come to hundreds of millions of crowns. The huge blaze was tackled by ten professional and nine volunteer firefighter departments, and will put the large incineration plant out of operation for days.

The fire started in the afternoon as the conflagration burst out of one of the buildings in the incineration plant and set technological equipment ablaze. Thick smoke could be seen from miles away across the capital city. Prague City Hall told people in the vicinity to shut their windows and stay away from the plant. Fumes from the fire are no longer spreading. The cause of the fire is still unknown. The majority of waste from Prague ends up in the Malešice incineration plant.

Uncertainty over Babiš prosecution amid presidential power transfer

The likely transfer of presidential powers from the ill Czech President Miloš Zeman could complicate attempts to prosecute Prime Minister Andrej Babiš over the Stork’s Nest affair of alleged EU subsidy fraud. State attorney Jaroslav Šaroch has already requested that the incoming Czech Chamber of Deputies vote to lift Babiš’s parliamentary immunity so that he can be tried over the affair.

Some, however, are suggesting that if President Zeman is deprived of his powers under Article 66 of the constitution, as expected, then Babiš may be tempted to grant himself an amnesty or stop his own criminal prosecution. Such powers would be transferred to the Prime Minister in the event that the President is stripped of his powers due to ill health. Lawyers, however, argue that such a step from the Prime Minister would be highly inappropriate, probably leading to intervention from the Constitutional Court.

Chamber of Deputies to dissolve today

The outgoing Czech Chamber of Deputies will dissolve today in preparation for the arrival of the new Chamber elected on October 8-9. The end of the current parliament will see the departure of MPs from the Social Democrat and Communist parties, who failed to meet the five percent threshold for entering parliament in the vote.

Until the arrival of the new Chamber on November 8, the Senate will be the only functioning parliamentary chamber. One hundred MPs who failed to regain their seat in the new Chamber of Deputies are entitled to severance pay, which can be up to five times their monthly salary.

Future government coalition agrees foreign policy principles

The coalition set to form the next Czech government has agreed on policy principles for Czech defense and foreign affairs. The group said it wants to advocate the foreign policy line of former President Václav Havel, stressing human rights, membership of NATO and the EU, and close cooperation with Germany and Israel.

The group wants to re-examine the Czech Republic’s relations with Russia and China and the involvement of undemocratic states in crucial Czech state projects should be limited, they said. The group also wants to increase the Czech Republic’s defense spending in line with NATO requirements, aiming to hit 2 percent of GDP by 2025.

Further fuel price hike to cause trouble for Czech motorists

Fuel prices in the Czech Republic have seen another significant increase since last week. The price of petrol increased by CZK 0.65, selling for an average of CZK 36.12 per liter. Drivers now pay an average of CZK 34.92 for a liter of diesel, CZK 0.85 more than last week.

The last time the price of petrol was above CZK 36 was in 2014. The difference in prices compared to last year is dramatic. In 2020, motorists paid an average of less than CZK 28 per liter for petrol and CZK 27 per liter for diesel. The price rise is the result of an increase in the price of oil on global markets, which has risen significantly since the start of the year. Prices are higher in Prague than elsewhere in the Czech Republic.

1,000 to lose jobs as Panasonic stops TV production in Pilsen

Japanese technology company Panasonic will end its production of televisions in a major factory in Pilsen, meaning between 900 and 1,000 people will lose their jobs by March 31, 2022. The news was announced by the Chairman of the KOVO trade union on Wednesday.

The shutdown is thought to be the result of reduced demand for televisions in general. The TV market is shrinking every year, accelerated by the Covid pandemic. The factory will continue to operate with 300 to 370 people manufacturing heat pumps, blue-ray players and recording devices. Panasonic started producing TVs in Pilsen 25 years ago, at the peak of its operations employing around 7,500 people in the region.

World’s best Gewürztraminer wine comes from Moravia

Winemakers from the B/V winery in Ratíškovice have won a prestigious award for the best Gewürztraminer wine in the world at the Le Mondial des Vins Blancs competition in Strasbourg. The winery’s Tramín červený 2018 won the award for the best dry Gewürztraminer, while winning another four gold medals and three silvers.

The B/V winery won the dry white wine category for the second year in a row. Last year, it also won the award for the best chardonnay. Another successful Moravian producer was the Josef Valihrach winery, which won two gold and two silver medals. In total Czech wineries won 11 gold and 19 silver medals. 660 white wines from 20 countries around the world competed in the competition, evaluated by 70 experts who gave out 185 medals in 12 categories.

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