Czech news for March 24: Labor minister under scrutiny, construction law changes put to vote

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Friday, March 24, 2023, updated daily to keep you up to speed. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 24.03.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 24.03.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

diplomacy Lipavský to meet NATO Secretary General on Monday

The Czech Foreign Affairs Ministry has announced today that Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Lipavský will meet NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels Monday. The pair will mainly discuss the NATO summit in Vilnius, which takes place in July and may see Sweden and Finland accepted into the group. Lipavský will also discuss aid to Ukraine with senior members of the European Commission and talk about dealing with the consequences of Russian aggression, such as punishing war crimes. 

education University leaders call for more govt. funding

Following a meeting of the Czech Rectors’ Conference, university leaders are calling on the government to provide public universities across Czcehia with more money. In 2010, 18 percent of the Education Ministry’s budget went on universities and colleges. In 2021, this dropped to just 12 percent. The group claimed that, compared with other OECD countries, the government; expenditures on education in Czechia were markedly lower. Education Ministry spokeswoman Aneta Lednová said that CZK 31 billion had been earmarked for higher education this year, CZK 2.3 billion more than last year.

CRIME Czech court sentences Afghan to 22 years in prison

A Czech court this afternoon sentenced an Afghan migrant Asmat Shirzad to 22 years in a top-security prison following attempted double murder and rape. Shirzad was found guilty of stabbing one woman, and having raped and choked another in Karlovy Vary on New Year’s Day last year. The 24-year-old Afghan lives in Germany, where he applied for asylum. He claims he does not remember the event and submitted an appeal, meaning he cannot yet be formally charged.

sport Biggest Czech bicycle fair starts today in Prague

The largest bicycle fair in Czechia – For Bikes – gets underway in Prague’s PVA Expo building today and will last until Sunday. The 13th installment of the event, the exhibition allows people to try out domestic and foreign cycles. The fair includes mountain bikes, electric cycles, scooters, and accessories. Saturday will see extreme athlete Daniel Polman tell guests how he completed a 7,400-kilometer journey on his cycle. On Sunday, cyclist and decorated Czech Paralympian Jiří Ježek will hold an autograph session. Tickets are sold on the spot and cost CZK 200.

WEATHER Double-digit temperatures await Czechia this weekend

Czechia is to see a slight cooldown of temperatures this weekend after warm weather in recent days. Figures, however, will remain in the double digits. Temperatures will hover around 13 degrees Celsius in the capital on Saturday, with rain showers expected in bursts. Cloud will predominate, with limited amounts of sun. The weather will be similar on Sunday across much of the country. In Czechia’s highest point, Sněžka, temperatures will hover just above freezing with some snowfall expected. Some ski resorts have already prepared a “farewell program” to mark the last weekend of skiing.

EDUCATION Prague university rector still mulls firing of dean after protest

Prague University of Economics and Business Rector Petr Dvořák Thursday asked for a university meeting to discuss the dismissal of Miroslav Ševčík, a senior staff member who attended an anti-government protest. Ševčík, who is the dean of the Faculty of Economics, was among a group of protesters who on March 11 gathered next to the National Museum in a bid to remove the Ukrainian flag that hangs on it. The dean refuses to resign despite claims that he is tarnishing the university's reputation. He says he had been helping an injured man.

Politics Construction law should be approved by lower house today

The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, is expected to pass changes to the new construction law, along with a new law on the Unified Environmental Opinion, which aims to simplify and expedite the process of building permits.

The revised Building Act proposes that builders submit only one application, with a single outcome, in order to receive only one stamp. In addition, an amendment to the public contracts law is on the meeting's agenda, which aims to prevent companies convicted of insurance fraud from obtaining contracts.

HEALTH Czech e-prescriptions can soon be filled in EU countries

Residents of Czechia will very soon be able to use Czech-issued e-prescriptions (sent via text, e-mail, or an app) abroad. This will also work the other way around; foreigners from EU countries will be able to pick up their e-prescriptions in Czechia.

According to the director of the State Institute for Drug Control, Czechs can use e-prescriptions in Croatia, Poland, and Spain beginning this summer. At present, Czechs can pick up their medicine in EU pharmacies with a paper prescription only.

FOREIGN AID Czech public raises money to send rocket launcher to Ukraine

Martin Ondráček, leader of the Gift for Putin initiative (a pro-Ukraine charity), told journalists Thursday that a Czech-made rocket launcher and 365 rockets will be sent to Ukraine as aid in the next few weeks. 

He said that the campaign – collecting money from the public – recently surpassed a total of CZK 30 million in donations. The rocket launcher cost about CZK 17 million, according to Ondráček. Each rocket costs about CZK 88,000. The campaign recently raised money for the purchase of a military tank.

SPORT Czechs prepare for Poland showdown in football

The Czech national football team is today preparing for its match versus Poland in a qualifying match for the UEFA Euro 2024 tournament. This will be both countries’ first match in their group, which also features the likes of Albania, Moldova, and the Faroe Islands.

Both Czechia and Poland are seen as strong favorites to qualify. Czechia’s next match will be against Albania in early September. The Czech team has won three of the last four matches with Poland and conceded zero goals in all of them.

POLICE Prague mayor demands apology from city police

Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda has criticized Prague police for publishing a video of a traffic-related incident involving Česká televize presenter Jakub Železný. Last week, the municipal police published a video of Železný – a well-known television presenter – in a verbal dispute with police regarding his parking on Wenceslas Square.

The mayor has called on the police to apologize – however, the director of the capital’s police force Eduard Šuster has defended the members of his team, saying that efforts to anonymize Železný were made and that video recording by the police is legal.

POLITICS Recording shows Czech labor minister offer money for a resignation

Czechia’s organized crime squad is looking into claims that the country’s Labor and Social Affairs Minister Marian Jurečka offered the former director of the Czech Labor Office money to resign.

Media outlet Mladá fronta Dnes published Thursday a recording that appears to show Jurečka offering Viktor Najmon a generous bonus if he agreed to step down. He also threatened Najmon with a negative job reference if he failed to leave his post. Najmon secretly recorded this conversation and views it as a bribe.

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