Czech news for March 14: Police deny escalating protest violence, no banks operate on SVB model

Top headlines for the Czech Republic for Tuesday, March 14, 2023, updated daily to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 14.03.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 15.03.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

ANIMALS Brno Zoo announces birth of new wild cat

Brno Zoo has announced the birth of a new margay cat, according to a press release today. The margay is a type of feline similar to a small leopard. The species is most often found in tropical forests in Central and South America, and is in the “red list” of threatened species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Margays are the only type of cat that can climb trees upside down.

ECONOMY Change in pension law to save state CZK 250 billion by 2030

The proposed re-evaluation of public pensions, which will see the average monthly pension rise by CZK 760 instead of the previously cited CZK 1,770, is set to save the state a seismic CZK 250 billion by 2030 according to the Czech Fiscal Council. After much furor in parliament two weeks ago, both houses of parliament signed the bill that entails the change, and President Petr Pavel must sign it into law before it is properly implemented.

COMPANIES Škoda Auto reports profits almost cut in half

The operating profit of the Škoda Auto car company fell by 42 percent in 2022 year on year, to CZK 15 billion, according to the company’s annual financial statement. Lower demand, caused in part by the Ukraine war and unfavorable exchange-rate developments, were said to be reasons for the drop in profit. Škoda Auto also recently announced that it delivered 731,300 cars to customers worldwide last year, an annual decline of almost 17 percent.

ECONOMY Retail trade drops in Czechia – for ninth month in a row

Amid still-high inflation and lower real household income, retail trade in Czechia declined by 7.7 percent year on year in January, the Czech Statistical Office announced this morning. This is the ninth consecutive month of annual decreases. Sales of non-food goods and foods declined by 9.5 percent and 8 percent respectively. Stores focusing on homeware and household products saw a 15-percent drop in sales. Internet and mail-order sales fell by almost 12 percent.

EVENT Industrial fire near Prague causes about CZK 2 million in damages

A mass fire in a wood-processing plant in Čelákovice, a region to the northeast of Prague, has caused about CZK 2 million in damages. Over 100 firefighters were called to the scene in the early hours of Monday morning, and it took several hours for all flames to be extinguished. Regional fire investigators, with the assistance of the Technical Institute of Fire Protection, will today inspect the premises to analyze the full extent of the damage.

ENVIRONMENT Coal mine protesters gather outside Polish embassy

Over 20 people congregated outside the Polish embassy in Prague Monday afternoon to demand more information from the Polish and Czech governments regarding the Polish Turów coal mine, near the Czech border. Protesters, many of them young, some from Greenpeace, accuse the Czech government of knowingly withholding data about environmental damage caused by the coal mine.

Czechia and Poland had been in a long-lasting legal dispute regarding the operations of the mine – however, Czechia withdrew its lawsuit against the country after Poland paid it CZK 1.1 billion in compensation for damages.

Police Authorities deny escalating protest tensions

Police denied escalating tensions during Saturday's anti-poverty, anti-government demonstration in Prague and provoking the subsequent violent attempt to break into the National Museum building. A police spokesperson said that law officials only used coercive means when participants escalated their aggressiveness and ignored repeated warnings to stop.

The police secured 20 people at the museum and three police officers were injured. The demonstration was organized by the PRO party, which hinted at possible provocateurs' involvement. The police said that a man with a megaphone incited participants to remove the Ukrainian flag from the museum, leading to violence.

Finance No Czech banks operate similarly to SVB – CNB

There are no banks operating in the Czech banking sector with a business model similar to that of the American Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank, whose collapse has been widely publicized in recent days. Czech National Bank (ČNB) Vice-Governor Eva Zamrazilová told ČTK on Monday. According to her, Czech banks are well-equipped with capital. 

Friday's collapse of SVB was the biggest fall of an American bank since 2008, subsequently, the authorities also closed Signature Bank. Analysts, however, say the collapse of both banks may trigger a correction in the stock markets. The European Commission said it is monitoring the situation in the European market after the collapse of the SVB.

Politics Czech, Slovak presidents considering joint trips abroad

The Czech and Slovak presidents, Petr Pavel and Zuzana Čaputová, respectively, discussed joint trips abroad and closer cooperation in fighting disinformation during Pavel's two-day visit to Slovakia. Pavel praised the close relationship between the two countries, saying they both face problems stemming from the conflict in Ukraine.

Čaputová highlighted the challenge of disinformation, which she said undermines social cohesion, and thanked Czechia for commanding the NATO multinational battlegroup based in Slovakia and protecting Slovak airspace. Pavel warned that if Russia's aggressive politics is given space by the West's decision to reduce its support for Ukraine, it would result in serious problems in the future.

education Students call for dean to resign over protest

Student members of the Academic Senate of the Prague University of Economics and Business (VŠE) are calling for the resignation of Miroslav Ševčík, the dean of the VŠE Faculty of Economics. The demand comes after Ševčík was accused of participating in an attempt to remove the Ukrainian flag from the National Museum building during an anti-government protest.

The students consider Ševčík’s behavior to be unacceptable and damaging to the university's reputation. Ševčík denies the accusations. In addition to the authors, 336 VŠE students, 44 of its graduates and public representatives, and six members of the academic staff signed the appeal. Rector Petr Dvořák also called on Ševčík to resign as the dean of the economics faculty.

MONEY Czechia sees decline in forged banknotes

The Czech Republic seized 1,980 counterfeit and altered banknotes and coins of various currencies in 2022, which is significantly less than in the previous year. The largest number of counterfeits seized imitated Czech banknotes and coins, with the thousand-koruna being the most counterfeited Czech banknote.

Counterfeiters most often printed banknotes on inkjet printers, and only a small percentage were made by surface printing. In addition to banknotes, 182 counterfeit Czech coins were seized last year, which is an increase compared to the two previous years. The majority of detected counterfeit Czech banknotes were rated as less successful.

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