Czech news for March 8: Prague police put out tram blaze, Pavel given clean bill of health

Top headlines for the Czech Republic for Wednesday, March 8, 2023, updated daily to keep you up to speed.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 08.03.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 08.03.2023) Reading time: 4 minutes

POLITICS Pro-Zeman political party to disband

A political party dedicated to supporting outgoing President Miloš Zeman has announced that it will disband following the end of Zeman’s incumbency. The Party of Citizens’ Rights - Zemanites (SPOZ), which was formed in 2009 and gained 4 percent of the popular vote in the 2010 general election, appointed Zeman as the party’s honorary chairman. The party says that Zeman did not influence the decision to end the group’s activity. No other political parties were interested in merging with SPOZ.

EVENT Police hunt for perpetrators of CZK 3 million medicine theft

Criminal investigators in Ostrava announced today that they are investigating the large-scale theft of medicine worth about CZK 3 million in the region. The medicine – mainly expensive eye drops – had been located in a van with Lithuanian license plates. The vehicle was found destroyed by a fire in a field with nothing valuable left inside. Regional police believe that the van was stolen in the early hours of Feb. 27 and are appealing for any witnesses to come forward.

POLITICS German media – Zeman 'influential,' but wasted his talent

Just hours remain until President Miloš Zeman’s mandate officially expires, and one German newspaper has labeled him as “one of the most influential Czech politicians” post-1989, despite largely wasting his talent. Saxon daily Sächsische Zeitung wrote that Zeman never met his promise to unite Czech society and repeatedly “annoyed” Germany. In 2002, for example, Zeman said in an interview with a German magazine that – based on Czech laws – many Sudeten Germans committed treason in the past, a crime that could be punished with execution.

ECONOMY Unemployment in Czechia remains at under 4 percent

A data release from Czechia’s Labor Office shows that unemployment in Czechia did not change month on month in February, registering 3.9 percent. At the end of February, there were about 282,000 people unemployed and not in basic education or training across Czechia. Unemployment has grown marginally year on year, from 3.5 percent. The city of Karviná in Moravia has the country’s highest unemployment level, at over 8 percent. The Praha-východ (Prague-East) district has the lowest jobless rate nationwide, at 1.6 percent.

MILITARY Czech government mulls sending military to Ukraine, Africa

The Czech government will today debate sending up to 15 members of the military police to Ukraine and around 25 special force military members to serve as advisers in the African country of Niger. The police that would head to Ukraine would investigate war crimes committed in the country, assisting the International Criminal Court. The potential mission in Niger is unrelated to Ukraine; troops there would help build up local defense capacities there, according to Minister of Defense Jana Černochová.

Politics President-elect passes health exam

Czech president-elect Petr Pavel is capable of performing presidential duties with no exceptions according to the doctors who carried out his comprehensive medical examination. The doctors' findings were published on the future president's website Tuesday.

The report was written by Prague Military University Hospital (UVN) director Miroslav Zavoral, who is also President Miloš Zeman's physician. Zavoral wrote in the report that Pavel was a healthy and vital man "capable of performing all his duties in the post of the Czech president."

Prague Police extinguish tram fire in Žižkov

Prague's tram line 13 was arriving at the Želivského stop when a passing city police patrol noticed smoke rising from its roof, according to police video released Monday. Passengers alerted the driver to the smoke who then evacuated the tram immediately; police officers intervened putting out the fire with an extinguisher. The tram was then towed to the depot. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

CYbercrime Czech Social Security Administration warns of fraud

The Czech Social Security Administration (ČSSZ) warns against fraudulent pages imitating its website and urges clients not to fill in their bank account information. The Office and also the Ministry of Labor informed about it on their websites and social networks. The CSSS official websites are www.cssz.cz and www.eportal.cssz.cz. On Tuesday, the Government Office also warned against text messages attempting to obtain sensitive data on its behalf.

AID Czech charities continue to support Turkey and Syria

One month after the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, Czech humanitarian organizations continue to help affected countries. People in Need, for example, offers people in Syria jobs in clearing debris. Charita CR provides temporary shelters or toilets to help prevent the spread of diseases. 

In addition, public collections for help after the earthquake continue, to which people in the Czech Republic have sent more than CZK 100 million. People In Need provided an overview of its assistance here and ongoing campaign here.

Health Covid to be removed from list of infectious diseases

The Czech Justice Ministry has proposed that Covid-19 be removed from the list of infectious diseases, the spreading of which is qualified as a criminal offense, as of July, according to a draft change to the respective government directive that the ministry has submitted.

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The Czech Health Ministry is waiting for this change to be able to cancel the seven-day isolation duty after a positive test for Covid-19. The Health Ministry wants those who test positive for Covid-19 to no longer be automatically sent to isolation for seven days, and for doctors and public health officials to decide on it based on their risk assessment.

PENSIONS Senate committee rejects bill lowering pension indexation

The Senate constitutional legal committee rejected the government amendment reducing the June extraordinary indexation of pensions, mainly because of its controversial approval in the lower house of the Czech parliament in a state of legislative emergency.

The Senate, the upper house of parliament, will decide on the amendment on Wednesday. If senators do not pass the bill this would seriously threaten its adoption by the legal deadline of March 22.

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