Czech morning news roundup: Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Bird flu outbreak leads to lockdown for poultry, Czech counterintelligence highlights increased threats, O2 Czech Republic makes significant gains. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 24.11.2021 09:17:00 (updated on 24.11.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

Lead story Poultry lockdown begins after bird flu outbreak

An outbreak of bird flu in the Czech Republic has led authorities to impose a nationwide obligation to keep poultry indoors. The restrictions was announced by the State Veterinary Service, and will see all farmed birds apart from pigeons and large, flightless birds kept inside.

Meanwhile, birds at a commercial goose-breeding farm in South Bohemia are being culled after bird flu was detected there. It’s thought the birds at the form had access to a pond and may have contracted bird flu from wild animals. Bird flu affects mainly chickens, turkeys and ducks, and its highly contagious nature makes strict hygiene measures necessary to stop it spreading to other farms in the region.

Intelligence Czech security service highlights increased activity by foreign spies

The Czech counterintelligence service BIS has issued its annual national security report for the Czech Republic, highlighting the dangers posing the biggest intelligence threat to the country. BIS says the Czech Republic is seeing increased activity on the part of foreign agents, especially those from Iran as well as from Russia and China.

BIS say Iranian operatives are mostly interested in infiltrating and gaining information from Czech technical universities. They hope information gathered from these institutions could help them in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Russian and Chinese agents meanwhile operate across a diverse range of areas. BIS also warned that as a result of the Covid pandemic, more people have been susceptible to misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Business O2 makes significant gains in the Czech Republic

Mobile operator O2 Czech Republic, which is majority-owned by Czech investment group PPF, announced profit growth of almost 13% year-on-year this September. Still, growth for the company in the third quarter slowed to 0.8%, with the development of 5G networks requiring increased construction and operational costs.

At the same time, the company’s results suggested that it may now have passed the 600,000 TV subscriber mark in the Czech Republic. O2 ended Q3 with 586,000 subscribers, a yearly increase of 16.6%. Its number of broadband subscribers meanwhile stood at 874,000, an increase of 3% on the previous year.

Culture Czech classical music stars nominated for international awards

Czech classical music is being recognized at the International Classical Music Awards, with two stars of the current Czech music scene receiving nominations for their recordings. Conductor Jakub Hrůša and pianist Ivo Kahánek are both contenders for awards which will be announced on January 20 next year.

Hrůša, the chief conductor of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor at the Czech Philharmonic, received two nominations for his recordings of symphonies by Gustav Mahler and Anton Bruckner. Pianist Ivo Kahánek is meanwhile nominated for his recording of Antonín Dvořák’s complete piano works. In the past, the two nominees have enjoyed joint success, winning the BBC Music Magazine’s recording of the year in 2020 for an album of piano concertos performed by Kahánek and conducted bz Hrůša.

Prague Intercontinental Hotel will not gain cultural monument status

Czech Minister of Culture Lubomír Zaorálek has stopped a review into whether monument protection status should be granted to the Intercontinental Hotel in Prague. The decision puts an end to any attempts to protect the hotel as a cultural monument, as major renovation works take place on the hotel and its surroundings.

Zaorálek said the review stopped because the renovation works have left only a bare concrete skeleton from the original building. This means the building no longer contains sufficient historical or cultural interest for protection within the Monument Act. The National Monuments Institute had previously argued that the building deserves monument status due to its location in the center of Prague and its preserved exterior and interior décor, with some describing the building as the most important example of Czechoslovak brutalist architecture.

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