Czech morning news in brief: top stories for Feb. 4, 2021

Election law will change, Czech National Library gets a new director, Russian ambassador in Prague summoned over Navalny sentence. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 04.02.2021 09:47:00 (updated on 04.02.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

POLITICS: Constitutional Court cancels part of election law

The Czech Constitutional Court has canceled a part of the election law for violating equal suffrage and equal chances of the running entities, according to a ruling released on its website. Coalitions of parties and movements will need just 5 percent of the vote to get into the Chamber of Deputies. So far, two-member coalitions needed 10 percent, three-member coalitions 15 percent, and those of four and more members 20 percent to enter the Chamber of Deputies. The court also changed the paragraphs regulating the number of lawmakers in regions. Politicians will have to change the relevant laws before the autumn general election on Oct. 8–9, the court ruled.

CULTURE: National Library has a new director

Tomáš Foltýn will become the new general director of the Czech National Library (NK) and assume the post in May. Culture Minister Lubomír Zaorálek selected Foltyn in a competition. Foltyn has experience in the NK as the head of the library collections administration section, and has been working at the NK since 2007. He graduated from the Faculty of Arts of the University of Pardubice, majoring in culture history. Last July, Zaorálek dismissed NK director Martin Kocanda, citing the non-transparent contracts for IT projects as the reasons. Zaoralek then named Vít Richter as the NK acting head, who will manage the library till the end of April.

INTERNATIONAL: Russian ambassador summoned over Navalny’s sentence

The Czech Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador to Prague Alexander Zmeyevsky. Deputy Foreign Minister Aleš Chmelař protested against the sentence for opposition leader Alexei Navalny, adding that it considers the sentence politically motivated. Chmelař also protested against brutal police action against peaceful demonstrators in Russia. The Foreign Ministry has called on Russia to immediately release Navalny.

The Russian embassy said that the Czech Republic is interfering in Russian internal affairs, which is unacceptable, and that its attempt at exerting pressure on the judiciary is an enemy action.

SHOPPING: Retail chains cut respirator prices

 The 21 percent VAT has been abolished for respirators for two months in an effort to make them more affordable. Retail chain Lidl is now selling three-packs of FFP2 for CZK 30, while Globus has single respirators for CZK 12. So far, lines have not formed to get discounts, as had occurred in Slovakia. The Czech Trade Inspection Authority urges people to look for EU certification on respirators, as some uncertified respirators remain on the market from the start of the pandemic. In the Czech Republic, respirators are currently mandatory only for pupils and instructors in driving schools, but the government strongly recommends them for use when shopping or on public transit.  

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AGRICULTURE: Bird flu has spread to a third region

Bird flu has been confirmed by veterinarians on a farm in the Pardubice region. As with the other two recent outbreaks, the hens became infected from wild water birds, according to the State Veterinary Administration. The second outbreak was confirmed by veterinarians on Tuesday in Central Bohemia. The first outbreak was in South Bohemia at the end of January. Last year in the Czech Republic veterinarians had to cull around 137,000 birds. Bird flu also appeared in 2017, when 98,000 birds were culled. There were outbreaks a decade before that as well. According to veterinarians, there are now about 170 outbreaks in farms in Europe.

RECREATION: The Kopřivná ski area is decorated with giant ice statues

Seven life-size sculptures made from 40 tons of ice decorate the Kopřivná Ski Resort in the Bruntál region. The resort’s owners are trying to add some life to the winter season even though the premises are closed due to coronavirus. The cable car is not operating, but people can get to the statues on cross-country skis or on foot, the head of the complex, Karel Ležatka, told the Czech News Agency (ČTK).

He wanted to offer people an outdoor attraction because everything is closed and there is nowhere to go. The statues should last several weeks, but it will depend on the weather. Currently, there are ideal snow conditions and ski resorts are closed, but many people in the area are using their winter cabins.

SPORTS: Pavel Vrba is new football coach of FC Sparta Praha

 Pavel Vrba, who coached the Czech football national team and Viktoria Plzeň, is the new coach of the FC Sparta Praha football team, the club announced on its website. Vrba replaced Václav Kotal as the main coach. Kotal was removed from the post because of the worsened performance and results of the team, which is in the third position in the Czech league.

Vrba has returned to the Czech league after more than a year. He ended as coach of Viktoria Plzeň in December 2019 and then coached Ludogorec Razgrad, where he ended last October. Viktoria Plzeň was the league champion three times under him and advanced to the group stage of the Champions League three times.

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