Czech news for March 30: Jewish museum receives major gift, CNB leaves interest rates unchanged

Top headlines for the Czech Republic on Wednesday, March 30, 2023, updated daily to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 30.03.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 01.04.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

politics Pavel aims for closer ties with Czech Senate

Czech President Petr Pavel would like to correct, and improve, relations between the head of state and the Senate. In a speech delivered today, Pavel said relations were presently quite poor due to the behavior of his predecessor Miloš Zeman.

Pavel also said he would like to play a more active role in watching the Senate’s actions – Senate President Miloš Vystrčil noted today that the last time Zeman had attended a session of Czechia’s upper house was over eight years ago.

SOCIETY Czech ministry suggests that mandatory sterilization should end

The Ministry of Justice has recommended today the ending of mandatory sterilizations for people who undergo a sex change. In future, a personal statement and a medical recommendation declaring should suffice, according to Government Commissioner for Human Rights Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková.

The UN Committee on Human Rights and Torture currently outright opposes sterilization as a condition for gender reassignment. According to Laurenčíková, there is a “significant majority” of European countries that do not enforce mandatory sterilization.

WEATHER Weather warning issued for Czechia

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has issued a weather warning for strong storms in parts of the country. The warning is valid from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. today, and applies to Ústí nad Labem, Liberec, and parts of Central Bohemia and Karlovy Vary.


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“An isolated occurrence of strong thunderstorms with wind gusts of around 70 kilometers per hour are expected, and possibly smaller hail," meteorologists said. Rain is forecast in the capital from this afternoon through to Sunday.

SPORTS Czech defense ministry decries olympian's Russia remarks

The Czech Defense Ministry has distanced itself from comments made by pentathlon champion and member of the Czech Olympic Committee (COV), David Svoboda, who supports the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the Paris Olympic games and qualifiers. Svoboda argues that athletes should not be discriminated against for their political beliefs.

However, the Defence Ministry has stated that Svoboda's comments question Russia's crimes in Ukraine, where Ukrainian athletes are dying for their country. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recommended that international sports federations allow the return of neutral Russian and Belarusian athletes to competitions, but the Czech Prime Minister and cabinet have expressed their opposition.

ECONOMY CNB leaves interest rate at 7 percent

The Czech National Bank (ČNB) has left its interest rate unchanged at 7 percent. The bank has not changed rates since June and may raise them in May if the risk of wage-inflationary spiral increases. The ČNB has pointed out the rapid wage growth that is pushing up inflation, which they expect to total 8.5 percent.

The council does not want to raise rates and then lower them again later and is betting on a strong koruna in the fight against inflation. Governor Aleš Michl said that a strong crown is still important and "could be even stronger."

BUSINESS Czech post to lay off thousands starting in July

Czech Post will give notices to about 1,600 employees, following the company's decision to close 300 branches to reduce losses. Part of the closure of branches will involve the cancellation of up to 2,269 jobs, some of which are unoccupied, and the company will offer retraining or other positions to the dismissed employees. The post offices are set to close on July 1 this year.

The planned branch cancellations form part of the planned transformation of Czech Post, which within two years should divide into a state-owned enterprise and a commercial joint-stock company, with the process due to conclude in 2025 at a cost of CZK 8bn (USD 360m).

CULTURE Prague's Jewish museum receives historic gift

The Jewish Museum in Prague has acquired a cycle of six large-format paintings by American abstract expressionist painter Cleve Gray, inspired by his visit to Prague and its Jewish heritage in the 1980s. The paintings are part of the cycle In Prague, and Gray was particularly impressed by his visit to the Old Jewish Cemetery in 1984.

The Jewish Museum received the paintings as gifts from the Cleve Gray Foundation, and their value may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The museum plans to exhibit the paintings in the future. According to the museum, this is one of the most important gifts during its existence.

European Union Czech PM among eight others warning against disinformation

Eight European Prime Ministers, including Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, have written an open letter to social network operators urging them to tackle disinformation more effectively. They warn against the use of social media to incite riots, spread propaganda, or misinformation, which has become a "virtual battlefield" in democratic countries, used by hostile powers for disinformation campaigns.

They argue that such campaigns aim to destabilize and weaken democratic countries, and platforms should prioritize accuracy and truthfulness over engagement when promoting content. They also call for global regulation of social networks and cooperation with governments, civil society, and fact-checking bodies.

international relations Kyiv deputy mayor visits Prague

Prague mayor Bohuslav Svoboda tweeted a photo on Wednesday welcoming First Deputy Mayor of Kyiv Mykola Povoroznyk to the Czech capital. The Czech politician wrote that Povoroznyk "thanked for the help Prague provided to Ukrainian refugees and his war-torn country."

In addition to reiterating Czechia's "continued support" for Ukraine, Svoboda gave Povoroznyk "a gift of medical supplies" from Prague's supplies.

economy Czechia's social, health contributions among OECD's highest

The Czech Republic imposed the highest social and health insurance levies among OECD countries in 2021, but their composite tax quota, which includes mandatory contributions, was lower than the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average.

The information comes from the Ministry of Finance's State, which is a budget brochure that aims to make the state budget more accessible to the public.

society Czechia's Infant child care centers to undergo transformation

The operation of infant care centers may be prolonged until the end of 2026, under a drafted amendment to the child protection law. Government human rights commissioner Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková said that the postponement would allow these homes enough time for their transformation.

On the other hand, Šimáčková Laurenčíková is in favor of a ban on sending children under seven to institutional care, arguing that setting an age limit of ten “is common abroad.” In the Czech Republic, homes for children under three count as healthcare facilities.

elsewhere in czechia Apricot growers light fires to guard against frost

Workers of the Lukrom plus company in the Uherské Hradiště region lit up fires in apricot orchards in the past couple of nights to protect the blooming trees from the frost.

The trees started blooming in the second half of last week, which coincided with a cold spell that led to night temperatures dipping below freezing. For the heating of the orchard, people used 60 barrels of burning wood or wood chips to heat the air between the apricot trees.

society Photographer Jan Saudek "fathered many children during his life"

Pavlína Saudková told iDnes in an interview that her husband, renowned Czech photographer Jan Saudek "met many women and had a few children outside of our relationship," adding that she "learned to live with it all."

Saudek, who is 87, said that he has about fifteen or sixteen children around the world and that he currently only admires the beauty of women from afar. He’s one of the most well-known artists in the Czech Republic and globally is regarded as the most celebrated Czech photographer.

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