Czech news for March 28: Childhood vaccination rates fall, Brno has a new sister city

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Tuesday March 28, 2023, updated daily to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 28.03.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 03.04.2023) Reading time: 4 minutes

event Activists paint red line outside Ministry of Justice

Activists from the Million moments for democracy organization this morning painted a red line in front of the Ministry of Justice to signify an “undemocratic area,” due to Justice Minister Pavel Blažek’s alleged conflicts of interest. 

Blažek is accused of wrongly influencing Czech judges and unjustifiably requesting information from courts during last year’s Brno apartment-corruption case, which saw the illegal privatization of municipal buildings in the city. The protesters have called on Prime Minister Petr Fiala to dismiss Blažek.

AIR TRAVEL Flights between Czechia and South Korea resume

A flight connection between Prague and Seoul in South Korea has officially resumed after a flight from the latter arrived in the Czech capital late Monday afternoon. This marks a resumption of a flight path between both cities; the last flight between Prague and Seoul (lasting around 11 hours) was before Covid-19.

The connection will operate thrice weekly, with return tickets costing over CZK 20,000. A direct path between Prague and Taiwan’s Taipei will start in July.

weather Heavy snowfall warning issued for Czechia

On Tuesday morning, meteorologists warned of heavy snowfall, which will affect mainly the southeastern half of the country. Up to 3 centimeters of snow can fall within a few hours. The warning was issued until 10 a.m. for Vysočina and parts of the Central Bohemian, South Bohemian, South Moravian, Pardubice, and Zlín regions.

A strong wind warning remains in effect in the eastern part of the country until the afternoon, and there is a risk of snow drifts forming in mountainous areas until midnight. Snowfall complicated traffic throughout Czechia this morning.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Czech foreign minister responds to Russian nuclear plans

Czech Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Lipavský said during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, that Russia must abide by international law and not station nuclear weapons in Belarus.

Lipavský's statement comes on the heels of Russian President Vladimir Putin stating his intent to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to the neighboring country. NATO called Russia’s plans dangerous, irresponsible and violation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.


CONSTRUCTION Largest Czech business body complains about building permits

Zdeněk Zajíček, vice president of Czech Chamber of Commerce, said in a Monday press conference that it currently takes too long to obtain a building permit in Czechia. According to Zajíček, faster approval of the permits is important primarily for the energy and transport infrastructure of the country.

A 2019 study found that Czechia ranked 157th out of 190 countries internationally for the issuance of building permits. The vice president said that digitization is the key to speeding up the process.

international affairs Prague Israeli embassy takes part in Israel protests

The Israeli embassy in Prague announced Monday that its employees would join the general strike ongoing in Israel over a controversial judicial reform. According to the embassy’s spokesperson, the length of the Prague embassy’s strike is indefinite.

The proposed changes to judicial law in Israel would provide the government coalition with control over appointing Supreme Court judges and lessen the power of the court’s law-reviewing powers. The majority of flights from Israel’s biggest airport were suspended on Monday due to the national demonstrations.

budget Education minister to discuss with PM more university funding

Minister of Education Vladimír Balaš will today discuss with Prime Minister Petr Fiala a potential increase in the government’s budget for universities amid a planned teachers’ strike. According to the minister, the financing of Czech higher education institutions has long been neglected. The current budget earmarks about CZK 31 billion for public universities – however, this could yet be increased by about CZK 900 million. University lecturers are dissatisfied with their pay – the average gross monthly wage for a philosophy or theology teacher is CZK 44,500.

health Child vaccinations drop in Czechia

Mandatory childhood vaccination rates are decreasing in Czechia, according to data from the Association of Health Insurance Companies. The vaccine rate for illnesses such as rubella and measles has fallen from 98 percent in 2008 to about 95 percent now.

A separate recent study also found that the vaccination rate for girls against human papillomavirus (HPV) has fallen from 75.6 percent in 2012 to about 63 percent in 2021, according to Ministry of Health data. Just 30 percent of teenagers are vaccinated against the bacterial meningococcus illness and 60 percent against papillomavirus infections.

Crime Police raid town hall in Central Bohemia to investigate toxic waste case

A public prosecutor in Nymburk, Central Bohemia, has said that a former military area in the town of Milovice had been contaminated by hazardous chemicals during demolition work. Workers are said to have released hundreds of tons of carcinogenic substances into the area.

Police are consequently investigating the unauthorized handling of waste. The police Monday raided the Central Bohemia Regional Office and the Milovice Town Hall, obtaining documents and computer-based data to uncover who had been responsible for the contamination.

diplomacy Brno gets new partner city – in Taiwan

Czechia’s second-largest city Brno Monday officially got a new partner city, Brno mayor Markéta Vaňková announced. The city of Taoyuan in north Taiwan is Brno’s new sister city. “Friendly relations and solid contacts have been a reality for three years now,” said Vaňková on Twitter.

The mayor signed the memorandum of understanding on Monday. Taoyuan now joins the likes of Dallas (U.S.), Leipzig (Germany), Renne (France), and Kharkiv (Ukraine) as partner cities of Brno.

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