Czech news for March 22: Pavel meets German president and hails 'close friendship'

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Wednesday March 22, 2023, updated daily to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 22.03.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 22.03.2023) Reading time: 4 minutes

Crisis Czech govt. to rule on post closures in April

The government will rule on reducing the number of Czech Post branches from 3,200 to 2,900 at the beginning of April, and the post office management will then have to decide which post offices to close. The state-owned agency, which posted a loss of over CZK 1 billion last year, says the redundancies will affect thousands of employees. The cost of the transformation will be an estimated eight billion CZK. Read more in our story here.

Ukraine Wounded Czech medic transferred to Kyiv

A Czech medic severely wounded in Donbas has been transferred to Kyiv for treatment as his condition is too serious to be transferred to the Czech Republic. The Phoenix project, under which the medic was treating Ukrainian soldiers, confirmed the news. The organization had previously announced on social media that the volunteer had been hit by shrapnel.

The Phoenix spokesman stated that although the patient's condition was stabilized, the development could not be foretold. Another Czech volunteer fighting on the Ukrainian side against Russia was killed last weekend, marking the second case in the past year.

CULTURE International human rights film festival begins in Prague today

The One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival gets underway today in Prague, which offers over 75 different types of films – including virtual-reality offerings. Co-organized by non-government organization People In Need, the theme of this year is “the price of safety,” which draws on events in war-stricken Ukraine. This is the 25th edition of the festival, and runs in the capital until March 30. Other cities and towns across the country – around 30 – will show films until April 2. More information on showing times and tickets can be found on the official website.

WEATHER Temperatures near 20 degrees Celsius across Czechia

Czechia will this afternoon see temperatures touching 20 degrees Celsius as the country welcomes the arrival of spring, according to the forecast of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute. Even in the mountains, where elevation levels are over 1,000 meters, temperatures will be over 10 degrees Celsius. Prague will see spells of sunshine this afternoon, but tomorrow and on Friday clouds will take over. Temperatures will be around 18 degrees Celsius in the capital until Friday. The weekend will see slightly lower temperatures, but will remain in the double digits.

UKRAINE Prague City Hall pledges more money to Ukrainian refugees

Prague City Hall announced Tuesday that it will earmark CZK 65 million for subsidies directed at organizations that help Ukrainian refugees. In 2022, CZK 35 million was sent from the state to such non-governmental organizations. Prague Deputy Mayor Jiří Pospíšil told journalists that the money that the city receives from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is used for these subsidies. There are over 100,000 Ukrainian refugees currently in the capital.

EDUCATION Thousands of Ukrainians not attending Czech school

The Meta organization for young migrants in Czechia has reported that around 4,500 Ukrainian refugees between the ages of 15 and 19 are presently not attending any secondary school. Some Ukrainian students who are attempting to complete their studies online comprise a part of this number. Kristýna Titěrová, program director at Meta, expressed concern that insufficient language levels would prevent young refugees from being accepted to secondary schools. She urged more schools in Czech regions to provide special "transfer" years to Ukrainian pupils, enabling them to acclimate to the Czech school system.

EVENT Senior policeman suspended for IKEA theft

On Tuesday, journalists received confirmation from the management of Prague's police force that they suspended a senior police officer for allegedly stealing from department store IKEA. The man, identified only as Libor G., apparently sold the stolen items on online marketplaces. The police have temporarily suspended him until a complete investigation is carried out, and he will receive half of his monthly salary in the meantime. Libor G., who was previously the head of a department and has been working for the police since 2005, denies all the claims.

LAW Court changes sentence for man who planned Prague bombs

The Olomouc High Court Tuesday afternoon amended the punishment of a male who planned bomb attacks at different embassies in Prague two years ago, allowing him to serve time at home. Although his 30-month suspended prison sentence remains, the defendant, who is autistic, was a juvenile at the time of his crime and as such received a lighter penalty. Rather than undergoing inpatient care, he will receive outpatient psychiatric treatment which the court believes will be more appropriate and effective.

CONSUMER PRICES Czech agriculture minister levels criticism at supermarket egg prices

Czech Agriculture Minister Zdeněk Nekula announced Tuesday that he has filed a complaint against supermarkets regarding their ever-increasing prices of eggs. According to Nekula, vendors are “abusing” their current position in the market. He asked the Czech Trade Inspection to better regulate traders’ activities. However, he does not recommend outright price caps on eggs (as imposed in Slovakia), due to the risk of negatively affecting competition. Czech Statistical Office data shows that the price of eggs rose by 95 percent year on year last month.

DIPLOMACY Czech president visits Germany

President-elect Petr Pavel met with German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier during his visit to Germany Tuesday. The pair agreed that Czechia and Germany are “connected by close friendship.” Both spoke of the need for close cooperation to overcome Russian and Chinese hostility. Steinmeier specially thanked Pavel for Czechia’s support of Ukraine. Pavel also visited the Berlin Wall, where he paid respects to the victims of the Cold War and, joined by his wife Eva, met members of Berlin’s Czech community.

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