Czech news in brief for April 2: Tuesday's top headlines

Czechia's crisis readiness is lacking, says a new report, seven Easter-weekend fatalities reported, and EP election campaign underway in Czechia. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 02.04.2024 08:09:00 (updated on 02.04.2024) Reading time: 3 minutes

UKRAINIANS IN CZECHIA Some 123,000 Ukrainian refugees work in Czechia

The Czech Ministry of Labor has revealed that approximately 123,000 refugees from Ukraine are actively employed in the Czech Republic, with roughly 1,0000 new workers integrating into the labor force each week. Notably, 90 percent of them contribute to the economy through employment or contractual agreements of some sort. According to Labor Minister Marian Jurečka, the ministry is continuing to try to strengthen the integration of Ukainians into the Czech labor market. There are around 380,000 Ukainian refugees in Czechia at present.

health Czechia continues to see whooping cough surge

According to the State Health Institute, there were 5,297 cases of whooping cough in the Czech Republic by the end of March. Two deaths have been reported this year, with less than 3 percent of cases requiring hospitalization. More than 73 percent of those infected this year were previously vaccinated, but experts recommend revaccination in adulthood. Czechia has ordered over 30,000 vaccines from pharmaceutical company Avenier, due to arrive within two weeks.

MILITARY ForMin backs Estonia's ammo pledge for Ukraine

During a press conference in Prague, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský welcomed Estonia's support for the Czech initiative to purchase ammunition for Ukraine from non-EU countries. The Estonian government has decided to provide EUR 20 million (CZK 505 million) worth of military support to Ukraine, mainly for ammunition. The Czech Republic plans to buy at least 800,000 artillery shells for Ukraine, with the proposal coming from Prime Minister Petr Fiala at a recent EU summit.

weather Czechia records warmest March since 1961

According to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, last month was the warmest March in Czech Republic since 1961, with an average temperature of 7 degrees Celsius – 3.8 degrees higher than the average. The end of the month saw temperatures more than 8 degrees above the norma levell. Ten years ago saw the country’s second-warmest month in the past 60 years. February was also warmer than usual, with an average temperature of 5.7 degrees Celsius, exceeding the average by 6.1 degrees.

Report Czechia's crisis readiness is lacking

The Czech Republic’s crisis readiness was criticized by the Supreme Audit Office (NKU) in its 2023 annual report. NKU warns of insufficient preparation for emergencies, citing mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic and lack of substantive action. Weaknesses in soft target protection and defense spending inefficiencies were also noted. Direct contracts for arms procurement raised auditors’ concerns about potential waste. Minimal practical improvements in crisis preparedness were observed, risking significant damage to public health.

Traffic Seven Easter-weekend fatalities reported

Seven fatalities were reported in the Czech Republic over Easter weekend, marking the highest toll since 2016. Preliminary police stats reveal three deaths on Saturday and four on Sunday, including three motorcyclists. Factors include warm weather attracting bikers. Accidents included collisions with cars and fixed obstacles. Weather likely contributed to increased motorcycle activity. No fatalities were reported on Good Friday.

European Union EP election campaign underway in Czechia

The European Parliament election campaign is underway in the Czech Republic, with a billboard featuring SPD chairman Tomio Okamura alongside prominent nationalist leaders from Western Europe like Marine Le Pen, Matteo Salvini, and Geert Wilders, aiming to strengthen the right-wing faction. Current forecasts suggest the far-right could win in four EU member states, including France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Austria. However, according to two models, mainstream pro-European groups are expected to retain dominance in EU politics. The deadline for submitting candidate lists for the European elections ends Tuesday afternoon.

Culture Karlovy Vary villa declared national monument

Karlovy Vary's Vila Preciosa, part of Westend's luxurious villa colony, was declared a protected monument, becoming the second in the region this year. Owners initiated the declaration, supported by the National Monument Institute. Built in 1902-1903 in French Neo-Renaissance style by Josef Waldert, it’s an exemplar of late historicist villa architecture. The villa's preservation maintains Karlovy Vary's spa heritage, enhancing the UNESCO World Heritage designation. Facades, interiors, and original elements contribute to its significance.

Russia Ukraine helped expose pro-Russian network in Prague

Ukraine’s secret service aided Czech counterintelligence (BIS) in uncovering a pro-Russian influence network in Prague targeting MEPs ahead of European Parliament elections. The network allegedly paid politicians to praise Russia and Putin in European media while spreading anti-Ukrainian and anti-European content. Czech PM adds Russian entities to national sanctions list. BIS reports reveal Russian influence tactics in EU states—investigations into network activities underway in Belgium, Poland, and the Netherlands. MEPs demanded thorough investigation and punishment for those involved.

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