Czech news for March 3: Russian hackers launch cyberattack on major Czech bank

The top headlines in brief for the Czech Republic on Friday, March 3, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 03.03.2023 10:14:00 (updated on 03.03.2023) Reading time: 4 minutes

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DIPLOMACY Pavel, Zeman meet Hungarian president

President Miloš Zeman and his soon-to-be successor Petr Pavel today hosted separately Hungarian President Katalin Novák. She presented Zeman with the highest Hungarian state award, the Hungarian Cross of Merit. Both meetings featured a discussion on current relations between the Visegrad Four group – all agreed that measures need to be taken as soon as possible to ensure the end of the Russia-Ukraine war. According to Zeman, mutual relations between the countries are “excellent.” However, Hungary recently came under fire from the current Czech government due to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s backing of Andrej Babiš for president.

LAW Former Communist Party official punished for denying massacre

The District Court of Prague 7 today sentenced the former vice-chairman of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM) Josef Skála to eight months of probation over a five-year period for denying the Katyn massacre, a series of mass executions that occurred in 1940. Skála told the court that he never denied the event, but was merely encouraging debate. The court ruled that freedom of expression can be limited by law if it relates to the protection of others’ rights – in this case, the victims of the massacre.

SPORT Czech ice-skating great prepares for World Championship

Three-time Olympic champion Martina Sáblíková told journalists today that she hopes to expand her medal collection as she prepares for the World Speed Skating Championship taking place this Sunday. A long-distance specialist, the 35-year-old Czech is among the favorites to win the 5,000-meter event. She has had a difficult season so far, only once coming in the top five in an individual race. She is a 10-time world champion, and in 2007, 2009, and 2010 was named the Czech Athlete of the Year.

CYBERSPACE ČSOB hit by Russian cyberattack

One of Czechia’s major banks ČSOB today faced a cyberattack, leading to some of its services going down for a period of time. For many users, internet banking and the bank’s mobile application were non-functional. Some in-person branch services were also disrupted. According to cybersecurity company Check Point, a pro-Russia hacker group called “NoName05(16)” was behind the attacks. ČSOB affirmed this afternoon that no client data or finances were compromised during the outage. Hacking attacks have been on the up recently in Czechia, with the National Office for Cybersecurity reporting a twofold increase in attacks in January month on month.


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environment Expert – light pollution a 'real threat' to Czech environment

Head of astronomy association Beskydy Dark Sky Region Jan Kondziolka announced Thursday that Czechia’s light pollution is a real threat to nature. The announcement came during a Venus-Jupiter sky conjunction that was visible Thursday and Wednesday night. Kondziolka labeled LED lighting as one of the most significant contributors to light pollution. Artificial lighting can disrupt the sleeping and feeding rhythms of birds, according to the astronomer, which can have significant long-term effects.

EVENT Military student tragically loses life in training

A student at the University of Defense – Czechia’s only military institution of higher education – was confirmed Thursday to have tragically died during training. The exact cause of death has not been announced, but the student was said to have been running with an assault rifle at the time of his death. He was in his first year of university. Czechia’s military police are currently investigating the full circumstances of the death.

GOVERNMENT Pension debate in government passes 70-hour mark

“Hallucinations are starting to appear.” That is how one member of parliament (MP) described his state of mind as the government continues its debate on pensions, which has now surpassed 70 hours (with a few short breaks in between). Overnight, MPs continued to debate the government’s planned change to pensions; the opposition has used multiple filibustering techniques to delay the bill’s passage. Debate resumed at 9 a.m. today as the politicians attempt to break through the deadlock. The government wants to amend the law to give pensioners less money than previously announced.

SPORT Pastrňák lands contract extension in NHL

Professional ice hockey player David Pastrňák has signed a massive, eight-year contract extension with current team Boston Bruins worth USD 90 million (about CZK 2 billion). This is the sixth-richest deal in National Hockey League (NHL) history, Sportsnet reports. Pastrňák, who turns 27 in May, has spent nine seasons in the NHL with the Bruins, helping the team reach the final of the Stanley Cup (the sport’s most illustrious trophy in the U.S.) in 2019.

ECONOMY Czech economy grows slightly less than expected

A data release from the Czech Statistical Office this morning finds that the Czech economy grew 2.4 percent year on year in 2022; a slight revision from the previously reported 2.5 percent. Foreign demand and investment, as well as gross capital formation expenditure (when companies invest in items that will help them increase their incomes over time), helped boost the economy. The foreign-trade balance was negative for the first time in 19 years, increasing public debt.

POLITICS President-elect makes low-key appearance at National Theater

President-elect Petr Pavel Thursday evening attended at Prague National Theater a premier of an adaptation of Naši furianti (Our Swaggerers), a 19th-century play. Pavel opted not to sit in the designated presidential box – Czech presidents traditionally enter the theater ceremoniously, however, on this occasion Pavel made a more low-key appearance via the main entrance. Current President Miloš Zeman and his predecessor Václav Klaus had not attended the theater while serving as heads of state.

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