Czech news in brief for December 7: Thursday's top headlines

Hanukkah celebrations begin in Prague tonight, teacher fired for spreading disinformation, and more top headlines for Dec. 7, 2023.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 07.12.2023 09:03:00 (updated on 07.12.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

diplomacy Pavel reiterates Czech support for Ukraine

Czech top constitutional officials are united in their support for Ukraine to achieve its goals and prevent Russia from pursuing its strategic objectives, President Petr Pavel said today. He emphasized the need to prevent Russia from dictating foreign policy decisions and joining international organizations.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala highlighted the importance of aiding Ukraine for Czech and European security, as well as global stability. The leaders stressed that turning a blind eye to Russia's aggression does not pay off. Their support for Ukraine will be discussed in upcoming EU negotiations for increased aid to the country.

culture Czech-German Fund to support projects worth CZK 30 million

The Czech-German Fund for the Future has decided to support 133 new projects with a total of CZK 30.9 million. Of this, CZK 10 million will be allocated to the restoration of 32 heritage sites, with a focus on dilapidated sacral buildings.

The fund will also provide CZK 600,000 for the renovation of an organ from St. Michael Church in Blatno, which had been missing since the 1980s. Additionally, the fund will support the Culture Against Anti-Semitism event, Czech-German meetings, and various other cultural exhibitions and projects.

travel Croatia still the most popular Czech summer destination

Around 800,000 Czechs went on holiday in Croatia this summer, followed by Greece with 640,000 visitors and Italy with 470,000. Other popular destinations included Portugal, Madeira, the Azores, and Albania. The Czech diplomatic ministry faced challenges due to natural disasters in Greece and Croatia, including forest fires on the coast.

The ministry evacuated 30 Czech tourists from the affected areas. Additionally, 400 Czech Scouts were evacuated from South Korea due to a tropical storm and flooding. The ministry received nearly 8,000 emergency calls and the consular assistance provided was commended by Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský.

Russia Czechia will have ambassador to Moscow, Pavel says

President Petr Pavel announced that the Czech Republic plans to have an ambassador to Russia in the long term. However, the post of deputy ambassador will likely be addressed first. The current ambassador is Vítězslav Pivoňka, while Jiří Čistecký serves as the deputy ambassador in Moscow.

The timing of filling the ambassador position is under discussion, but there is no fundamental disagreement. Prime Minister Petr Fiala also agrees with proceeding in line with allies, as several countries, including Germany and Britain, recently handed over credentials in Moscow.

international Babiš talks migration with Hungarian PM Orban

Czech opposition leader Andrej Babiš met Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest to discuss illegal migration and the importance of the Visegrad Group. The meeting took place on Tuesday and focused on current EU and Central Europe issues, as well as party matters. Both Babiš and Orban lead political parties that prioritize protecting national sovereignty.

The V4 group's cohesion has been split due to Hungary's refusal to support Ukraine against Russian aggression. The meeting comes amid heightened migration concerns, with several countries implementing border controls.

survey Czechs view Vietnamese more positively than 10 years ago

According to a recent poll conducted by the STEM institute in November, the relationship between Czech society and the Vietnamese has significantly improved over the past decade. The poll also revealed that Czechs hold favorable attitudes towards Slovaks and foreigners from developed countries, but have a less favorable view of geographically and culturally distant nationalities and Roma people.

Following the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Czechs now have a more positive opinion of Ukrainians as neighbors compared to Russians. The survey also found that Czechs have negative attitudes towards Arabs, Syrians, Afghans, and Russians.

Community Hanukkah celebrations begin in Prague

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah will begin in Prague this evening as regional rabbi Karol Sidon will light the first candle of a menorah at Bubny station. Late politician Karel Schwarzenberg will also be honored at the memorial site where Jews departed for the ghetto over 80 years ago.

After dark, the Hanukkah menorah will also be lit on Palach Square in Prague. Organized by Chabad Prague, the event, which will be attended by the Minister for European Affairs Martin Dvořák and the Mayor of Prague 1 Terezie Radoměřská (TOP 09), will be preceded by a prayer for Israel. Hanukkah commemorates the second-century BC Maccabee revolt and the rededication of the Temple, recalling the miracle that a one-day oil supply lasted eight days.

Disinformation Teacher fired for denying Russian war crimes to students

A Czech elementary school teacher was fired after denying Russian war crimes in Ukraine to her students. The Prague Municipal Court this week upheld the dismissal of Martina Bednářová from the Na Dlouhem lanu school for violating education law and presenting false information to students in April. Records show the 8th-grade teacher told pupils that nothing was happening in Kyiv and accused Czech TV of bias when students said they saw footage of the bombed city.

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Bednářová also allegedly said Ukrainian Nazis had systematically killed Russians, including children, since 2014. The court found the 18-minute recording from her lessons did not resemble a required Czech language class. The 30-year veteran now must pay CZK 30,000 Czech in legal fees.

Culture Czech govt. approves 18 new national cultural monuments

The Czech government added 14 historic town halls, a monument to King George of Poděbrady, and two historic trams to the list of national cultural monuments at its meeting in Bučovice on Wednesday. The historic town halls span different periods and come from cities like Prague, Brno, and Pilsen.

The two trams—from 1900 and 1899 respectively—showcase the country's transportation history. Minister of Culture Martin Baxa praised the town halls as representing the Czech Republic's valuable architectural and craft heritage. With over 500 now designated, national monuments symbolize Czechoslovakia's rich past.

Weather Czech warm-up forecast: Weekend temps to rise above freezing

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute forecasts warmer weekend temperatures for the Czech Republic, with highs rising above 0°C. Light snow is expected Saturday with a Sunday mix of snow and freezing rain from west to east. Nights will remain frigid at -2°C to -6°C.

Next week's highs could hit 10°C in central regions while northeastern areas remain cooler, from 1-5°C. Meteorologist Jan Šrámek said significant snowmelt is likely even in the mountains by Monday. Warmer, wet weather will arrive in western Bohemia last in the coming week-long warmup.

Economy Czech spirits sales slow as consumers save, restrict spending

Major Czech spirits producer Stock Plzeň-Božkov reported a several percent drop in off-trade sales and a decline of up to 20 percent in hospitality sales this year compared to last. Marketing director Tomáš Hejkal cited increased consumer savings and more careful spending on alcohol.

A planned 10 percent excise tax rise on spirits next year is expected to further curb consumption, especially of bulk varieties. However, premium spirits like whiskey have been growing in sales. Overall, the Czech spirits market fell by 3 percent in 2021.

society Thousands of mourners pay respects to Schwarzenberg

Over 2,900 people paid their respects to late Czech politician and castle chancellor Karel Schwarzenberg at the Knights of Malta Church in Prague's Malá Strana yesterday. Viewings will continue until Dec. 9. A state funeral will be held at St. Vitus Cathedral on Saturday.

Schwarzenberg, 85, who served as foreign minister and was a senator, had requested donations in his honor go to charities supporting Ukraine against Russia's invasion and the Knights of Malta. Donations from the public exceeded CZK 150,000 Czech on the first day. Schwarzenberg's remains will be interred at Orlík Castle after his funeral.

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