Czech news in brief for February 14: Wednesday's top headlines

Students urge Czech PM to support marriage equality, Czechia observes Ash Wednesday, and angry fans call Jagr's management of hockey team into question.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 14.02.2024 08:49:00 (updated on 14.02.2024) Reading time: 5 minutes

refugees Study: Most Ukrainian refugees in Czechia work

According to a survey by PAQ Research, most Ukrainian refugees in the Czech Republic are employed and able to support themselves financially. However, they often face low-paying jobs and poor working conditions. One of the biggest barriers to better jobs is the lack of Czech language skills. 

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, over 6 million people have fled the country. As of January, there were about 380,000 refugees from Ukraine in the Czech Republic. In November 2023, almost four-fifths of economically active refugees had a job, mostly in the Czech Republic or through remote work. However, their incomes are still relatively low, and many are overqualified for their jobs.

INTERIOR MINISTRY Germany to reassess border controls with Czechia

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser announced that Germany will review the border checks with Czechia every six months, in accordance with Schengen rules. These checks were put in place due to increased illegal migration and must be deemed necessary. After a meeting with Czech counterpart Vít Rakušan, Faeser stated that she believed the checks would be extended in the next assessment in March. 

Despite a decrease in migrant numbers, Germany still faces many asylum applications. Faeser emphasized that the checks are only approved for a limited time and must be reassessed to determine their necessity. She also noted that the checks effectively combat smuggling, as one in four refugees arrive through smugglers.

law Ex-Czech PM acquitted in second court case

The Prague Municipal Court has once again acquitted former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his adviser Jana Nagyová in the Čapí Hnízdo (Stork’s Nest) subsidy-fraud case, where they were accused of arranging a CZK 50 million subsidy for a congress center in Central Bohemia. The verdict is not final and can be appealed. 

FEATURED EMPLOYERS

Babiš and Nagyová have maintained their innocence, with Babiš claiming the case is politically motivated. This is the second time the Municipal Court has taken on the case, after the original acquittal was overturned by the court of appeal. 

health Whooping cough cases rise in Czechia

According to the State Health Institute (SZÚ), there has been a significant increase in whooping cough cases in the Czech Republic, with almost 700 cases reported since the beginning of the year and 188 cases last week. Epidemiologists estimate that there may be up to 4,000 cases per year. The infection is particularly dangerous for unvaccinated children and the elderly.

Symptoms include a runny nose, coughing fits that can last for several days, and a distinctive "whooping" sound. The cough typically worsens at night and does not respond to conventional treatment. SZÚ epidemiologist Kateřina Fabiánová warns of the dangers of this illness and advises seeking medical attention if symptoms arise.

ROADS State approves road-toll increase

The government is set to approve a 15 percent increase in tolls starting from March 1, the Ministry of Transport declared today. The corrected rates will take effect on March 25, as Transport Minister Martin Kupka confirmed. He reassures that the majority of trucks will not see a change in their toll amount, and the impact of the error on the budget will be minimal. 

However, this may lead to an immediate increase in transportation costs. The government will approve the rates for both March 1 and 25, to provide clarity for carriers to prepare. The minister explained that adjusting the rates earlier was impossible due to technical limitations. 

WEAPONS Over 1m firearms registered in 2023

According to data released by the Czech police today, the number of registered firearms in Czechia exceeded 1 million in 2023, with a 3-percent increase from the previous year. This corresponds to the number of firearms licenses, which also saw a 3-percent rise. In total, 316,859 people held firearms licenses. 

The growing interest in guns has been noted in recent years, with 307,372 license holders and 900,087 registered weapons in 2020. The tragic Charles University December shooting brought forward discussion of a new bill, which aims to tighten regulations on weapons and ammunition. The Chamber of Deputies passed it last month.

Politics European Parliament president in Prague today

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola will visit the Czech Republic today. Metsola will pay respects to the victims of the shooting at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts and engage in discussions with constitutional officials, including House Speaker Markéta Pekarová Adamová and Senate President Miloš Vystrčil.

The visit is part of Metsola’s tour of all EU member states before June’s European Parliament elections. After meetings at Prague Castle with President Petr Pavel and Prime Minister Petr Fiala, Metsola will cap the day by participating in a debate with students at the University of Economics on shaping the future of the Euro.

Equality Students on call on PM to support marriage for all

In a letter to PM Petr Fiala and house leaders, Prague university students, representing 27 associations with over 5,000 members called for the Czech lower house to support marriage equality. The letter precedes the lower house’s final vote on a proposed amendment allowing same-sex marriages.

Some MPs have suggested naming these unions partnerships but granting equal rights, while others propose restricting certain rights, particularly those related to children. The students emphasize opposition to discrimination and advocate for equal treatment, asserting that denying full-fledged marriages to same-sex couples contradicts fundamental rule-of-law principles in Czechia.

religion Czechia observes Ash Wednesday

Czechia observes Ash Wednesday today, marking the start of the forty-day fasting period before Easter on March 31 this year. On this day, Christians receive ashes in the sign of the cross on their foreheads, symbolizing repentance and spiritual cleansing. The Catholic Church designates Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as strict fasting days, urging believers to give up food, smoking, and alcohol temporarily.

In Czechia, the Lenten season encourages charitable acts, including almsgiving, with donations supporting those in need. Archbishop Jan Graubner will lead an evening service at St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle. The fasting period culminates in Easter celebrations in March.

society Over 9,000 Czechs downloaded domestic violence app

In the Czech Republic, a surge in domestic and sexual violence prompts increased use of the Bright Sky mobile app, designed to help identify relationship dangers. The app, available in Czech, English, and Ukrainian, offers 12 questions assessing relationship risks, examples of subtle domestic violence, and emergency contacts.

Invented by former British police officer John Liversidge, the app has been downloaded by 9,180 Czech users since 2020, with a monthly average of 292. Amid COVID-19-related isolation, the Vodafone Foundation notes a growing need for such tools. Police reported increased abuse cases in 2022, reinforcing the app’s relevance.

sports Kladno fans unhappy with Jagr's team management

Kladno hockey fans express discontent over the Kladno Knights’ recent 0-4 loss to Vitkovice and demand an explanation from owner Jaromir Jagr. The protest, initiated during Monday’s 16th consecutive defeat, involves fans displaying a banner criticizing Jagr’s management and engaging in nonchalant activities during the game.

Fans, dissatisfied with the team’s poor performance, expect the Elite League club, known for producing hockey stars, to face relegation. They criticize Jagr’s perceived “unprofessional” management and call for change as the legendary player approaches his 50th birthday on Thursday, according to statements on kladenaci.info.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more