Czech news in brief for December 9: Saturday's top headlines

Funeral of late well-known Czech politician Karel Schwarzenberg takes place, James Bond exhibit opens in Prague, and doctor-government dispute is not over. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 09.12.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 09.12.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

Weather Ice warning extended throughout Czechia tonight

Tonight, the Czech Republic faces the return of icy conditions, particularly in southern and southwestern Bohemia, with warnings extending into eastern Bohemia and southwestern Moravia. Meteorologists advise caution due to the risk of freezing rain, increasing the likelihood of icy surfaces.

On Saturday evening and Sunday morning, southern and southwestern Bohemia carry the highest risk, with the freezing zone moving eastward. Previously, slippery roads in the Karlovy Vary region caused traffic complications, emphasizing the need for cautious travel. Pedestrians, especially the elderly, are urged to limit outdoor activities.

Music Jakub Hrůša to remain chief conductor of German orchestra

Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša will continue as the chief conductor of the Bamberger Symphoniker, a prominent German orchestra, until 2029. This announcement was made by Bavarian Culture Minister Markus Blume, who emphasized the extraordinary nature of Hrůša's association with the Bamberg ensemble.

Having led the Bamberg Symphony since 2016, Hrůša has received numerous accolades, including the German Music Critics' Prize, the Antonín Dvořák Prize, and the Bavarian Culture Award. Starting September 2025, he will also assume the prestigious role of music director at the Royal Opera House in London.

Animals Peregrine falcon found shot in North Moravia

One of the four peregrine falcons that originally hatched on a chimney at the Dukovany nuclear power plant three years ago was found wounded in North Moravia after being shot with a gun. The bird was discovered on December 3 with serious injuries, including a pellet lodged in its sternum and injuries to its left wing. The injured falcon was taken to a rescue station, and caregivers fear it may never fly again.

The Dukovany plant has artificial nesting sites for falcons, with peregrine falcons having successfully raised eight chicks there since 2020. ČEZ, the energy utility operating Dukovany, has collaborated with ornithologists on falcon rescue efforts since 2011, resulting in at least 163 chicks hatching at ČEZ-controlled power plants across the country.

Funeral Mourners at Prague Castle say goodbye to Karel Schwarzenberg

Mourners gathered at Prague Castle today to pay their respects to the late diplomat and former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who passed away in Vienna on November 12 at the age of 85. A funeral mass in St. Vitus Cathedral on Saturday will be attended by invited guests and family members, while the public can watch the ceremony on a large screen in Hradčanské náměstí.

Prague Archbishop Jan Graubner will lead the Mass, with the final farewell conducted with state honors. Subsequently, the remains will be escorted to Orlík, a historic ancestral seat, for interment in the family tomb.

Sports Ester Ledecká to compete in downhill World Cup in St. Moritz

Czech skier Ester Ledecká is set to make her debut in the downhill discipline at the World Cup in St. Moritz today. After a 20-month hiatus due to injury, the 2018 Olympic champion in super giant slalom event acknowledges the challenge of adapting to the different racing rhythm and challenging terrains.

Ledecká, recovering from a clavicle fracture, views the St. Moritz downhill as a significant test, having had limited hard practices in the past year and a half. Despite challenging preparation conditions, she remains optimistic and aims for a strong performance, building on her 21st place finish in the discipline at the 2017 World Championships.

Weather Icy conditions close D6 highway in Karlovy Vary

The D6 highway near Kynšperk nad Ohří in the Karlovy Vary region was temporarily closed due to treacherous road conditions caused by snow and ice on Friday evening. Numerous accidents occurred, including a truck collision and subsequent car pile-up. Traffic was halted for several hours as authorities investigated and cleared the wreckage.

Despite the challenges, all accidents were resolved, and the highway reopened around 11:30 p.m. Firefighters responded to various accidents throughout the region, urging caution for both drivers and pedestrians. Meteorologists had previously warned of potential ice formation, especially in the Ore Mountains. Motorists were advised to exercise additional care due to slippery roads and reduced visibility caused by ongoing snowfall.

EVENT Member of Habsburg family to attend Schwarzenberg funeral

The Austrian Ferdinand Zvonimir Habsburg, from the well-known Habsburg family, will attend late Czech politician and former Foreign Affairs Minister Karel Schwarzenberg's funeral at St. Vitus Cathedral today. As the grandson of Otto Habsburg (the last crown prince of Austria-Hungary) and great-grandson of Emperor Charles I of Austria, Habsburg is currently a racing driver, previously partaking in Formula 3.

The Habsburgs share a long-standing and close relationship with the Schwarzenbergs, evident when Otto Habsburg awarded Karel Schwarzenberg the Order of the Golden (an Austrian state honor) in 1991. Invited guests, including Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová, European nobility, diplomats, and politicians, will join the family at the cathedral. Post-ceremony, Schwarzenberg's remains will rest at Orlík Castle.

HEALTH Health Ministry: Doctors' pay deal doesn't end negotiations

After signing a pay-increase deal for hospital healthcare workers, negotiations persist between doctors and the Health Ministry for further amendments, the government says. Doctors aim to address overtime concerns, family-work balance, and retirement benefits. The agreement, allocating CZK 9.8 billion from public health insurance for hospital remuneration in 2024, resolves immediate issues and should largely abate the ongoing doctor’s protest. 

Health Minister Vlastimil Válek plans new legislation to align Czechia with Western standards of medical organization, improve patient-insurance relationships, and prioritize care quality and accessibility. The Czech Health Insurance Association also warned Friday that while pay concerns had partially been resolved, the issue of overtime work is far from being fixed.

culture Special James Bond exhibit opens in Prague

Today sees the opening of the Bond in Motion exhibit at Prague Exhibition Center, running until March 31 next year. It will display 75 iconic vehicles and original props from James Bond films, including Aston Martin DB5 and V8 cars. Visitors will also view boats, motorcycles, aircraft, and scale models used for special effects such as a mountain cable car. 

The exhibit is divided into parts inspired by the four elements – water, air, fire, and earth. According to the promoter of the display, Nicolas Borenstein, it took a year to prepare it. The same exhibition took place in Brussels earlier in the year – around 100,00 people visited.

consumer trends Czechs reduce spending on cultural activities

Despite 84 percent of Czechs saying they value culture-related activities for their mental health, over 50 percent reduced spending on cultural outgoings this year, according to a Creative Europe Office survey. Average monthly spending dropped to CZK 442, driven by rising admission prices.

Vladimíra Chytilová, from the Creative Europe Media Office, noted that cultural institutions face higher expenses amid reduced visitor spending; 40 percent of all people spend under CZK 250 monthly. Cinema, theater, and concert spending decreased for the second consecutive year, too. The most frequent cultural activity was found to be reading books, which approximately 70 percent of respondents engaged in at least once a month.

SPORT Czechia wins bronze medal at European swimming championship

Kristýna Horská clinched the Czech Republic's first medal at the European Short Course Swimming Championships in Romania, securing bronze in the 200-meter breaststroke. She also set a new Czech record at 2 minutes and 19 seconds. Having narrowly missed out on a medal two years ago, this triumph marked her first major win, achieved in spite of summer setbacks, including temporary sight loss in one eye. 

Horská finished a close third behind Dutch swimmer Tes Schouten and Danish Thea Blomsterberg. The Czech team celebrates the medal in Romania even ahead of swimmer Barbora Seemanová's anticipated participation in her strongest event, the 200-meter freestyle, where she won the silver medal at the last European championships.

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