Czech news for March 23: Exhibit on bohemian life in the 20th century opens in Prague

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Thursday March 23, 2023, updated daily to keep you up to speed. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 23.03.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 23.03.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

TRANSPORT RegioJet wins tender for high-speed Prague to Brno line

Czech transport provider RegioJet will operate the high-speed railway line (R9) that connects Prague with Brno and Jihlava, the Ministry of Transport announced this afternoon. RegioJet will replace state rail carrier České dráhy (Czech Railways) as the company that operates this route. The new contract that gives RegioJet the rights to operate the route will begin in 2026 and last 15 years. RegioJet promises to provide new express trains on the route with Wi-Fi and refreshment sales.

CRIME Czech motorcyclist-drug smuggler faces over a decade in jail

A spokesperson for the national Customs Administration said that a Czech biker carrying “millions of crowns” worth of cocaine from the Netherlands into the country faces up to 12 years in prison. The man had been part of an organized gang that smuggled drugs into Czechia. He had hidden cocaine in the windscreen-fluid tank and made several such trips in the past two years. Police discovered the smuggling group during an organized raid in February, confiscating 780 grams of cocaine and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle worth about CZK 1 million.

culture President gives human rights award at film festival

President Petr Pavel Wednesday evening attended the opening of the One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in Prague. He handed the Homo Homini award – given to prominent advocates of human rights – to the director of the FundaRedes organization, which fights against abuses against humans. The director received the award on behalf of Venezuelan activist Javier Tarazona, who is currently in prison. The festival this year focuses on the war in Ukraine as well as the energy crisis, climate change, and social insecurity.

JOBS Česká pošta confirms it will lay off over 2,000 employees

State postal carrier Česká pošta (ČP) confirmed Wednesday that the financially struggling company will make over 2,200 employees redundant in July. This includes 1,388 counter workers, over 500 delivery people, and 320 management staff. Around 235 Prague-based staff will lose their jobs. In 2022, ČP made a loss of almost CZK 700 million. Post unions are said to be considering a strike to voice discontent about the layoffs. ČP also plans the closure of 300 branches nationwide.

FOREIGN TRAVEL Mexico denying some Czechs' entry into country

According to Czech consul in Mexico Zdeňka Šubrová, about 30 Czechs were not granted permission to enter Mexico in recent months. The situation is supposedly especially serious in Cancun. The authorities in Mexico are said to have detained the tourists after their arrival at the airport for several hours or even days. Mexican police defend themselves by saying they only act in harmony with the law. The tourists, Mexican police say, must prove during checks why they are visiting the country and whether they have enough funds.

cyber threat More Czech govt. offices ban TikTok

The Czech Chamber of Deputies Office has prohibited its staff from using the TikTok app on their work devices and recommended its removal from private devices due to security concerns. The National Office for Cyber and Information Security (NÚKIB) recently warned against using TikTok on devices with access to crucial information systems, and the Chamber of Deputies has taken this warning seriously.

The Office of the Senate also previously issued a warning and introduced technical measures to restrict TikTok use. Other state offices, enterprises, and private firms in Czechia have taken similar steps, and some have also banned TikTok on private devices used for work. Czech Radio is also temporarily suspending its activity on the TikTok social network. 

Society Ministry of Labor won't raise retirement age

Czech Labour and Social Affairs Minister, Marian Jurecka, has stated that he does not intend to raise the retirement age to 68 years. He believes that life expectancy, the time spent working, and the difficulty of a profession should be considered when determining retirement age. Jurecka has also announced that the pension commission will now include opposition representatives.

This comes as the Czech Republic faces a significant pension deficit of around CZK 78 billion this year. Some experts have proposed a slower pace of indexation, a limited number of early pensions, and a gradually increased retirement age, which is currently growing every year.

Business Czech mogul becomes largest shareholder of French retail chain

Czech businessman Daniel Křetínský has become the largest shareholder of French company Fnac Darty, holding a 25-percent stake. The French financial market regulatory authority AMF confirmed the news, but stated that Křetínský has no intention of taking over the company within the next six months.

Fnac Darty is a retail chain that sells books, music, and electronics. Křetínský already holds a minority stake in the French newspaper Le Monde and several other French publications through his holding company CMI. Fnac Darty operates nearly 1,000 stores across several Western European countries, as well as Tunisia, Congo, and Qatar, and reported a loss of EUR 32m (CZK 759m) for 2022.

INDUSTRY State to scrutinize food supply chain due to high prices

Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced Wednesday that the government will intensify its efforts to monitor the supply chain of food production and sales. This will be done via more audits. He noted that the overall aim is to ensure food producers and suppliers do not abuse their market positions, resulting in higher-than-needed prices for the consumer.

Fiala hopes that will achieve a partial lowering in food prices. Ministry of Industry and Trade Jozef Síkela has said he believes companies in all parts of the supply chain domestically add an unfair margin to their prices.

CUlture New exhibit to focus on phenomenon of bohemianism

The Kunsthalle Prague gallery is hosting a new exhibition called "Bohemia: The Story of a Phenomenon, 1950-2000," curated by guest curator and columnist Russell Ferguson from Los Angeles. The exhibition explores the phenomenon of bohemianism in art and society during the second half of the 20th century. It features works from 39 artists, including Alice Neel, Wolfgang Tillmans, Nan Goldin, and Libuše Jarcovjáková. The exhibition was presented to journalists today and will be open to visitors from Wednesday until Oct. 16.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Czechia to join European geopolitics group

The Czech government has today approved Czcehia’s accession to the EU-backed Brussels Institute for Politics, which analyzes geopolitical conflicts that may affect EU and European countries. Czechia will contribute about EUR 60,00 (CZK 1.4 million) annually to the organization. French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte all discussed the new project in Prague last October. The Brussels institute also aims to launch cooperation with European universities, including Prague-based Charles University in the near future.

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