Czech news in brief for February 17: Saturday's top headlines

Czech politicians, NGOs condemn Navalny death, parts of Czechia see record February temperatures, new plans for Miloš Forman Square, and more headlines. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 17.02.2024 08:30:00 (updated on 17.02.2024) Reading time: 5 minutes

Ukraine Czechia has source for Ukraine munitions abroad

Czech President Petr Pavel revealed at the Munich Security Conference that the Czech Republic has discovered potential sources of munitions for Ukraine abroad. The ammunition, including half a million pieces of 155-millimeter ammunition and 300,000 pieces of 122-millimeter ammunition, could be delivered to Ukraine within weeks pending financing from partners such as the USA, Germany, Sweden, and others.

This announcement follows reports earlier in February indicating Czech interest in ammunition from companies in South Korea, Turkey, and the Republic of South Africa, as reported by the Brussels server Politico.

Sports Czech biathlete inducted into Hall of Fame

Former Czech biathlete Gabriela Soukalová expressed gratitude to her parents and coach Ondřej Rybář after being inducted into the International Biathlon Union Hall of Fame. Soukalová, the first Czech biathlete to receive this honor, was pleasantly surprised by the recognition of her successful career.

"It's a huge honor for me. I didn't expect that I should be there at all," Soukalová said, smiling. Reflecting on her induction, she emphasized the crucial support she received from her parents and highlighted the pivotal role played by her former coach and current sports director, Ondřej Rybář.

Politics Ex-Czech PM Paroubek elected chair of SOCDEM

Jiří Paroubek, former Czech prime minister from 2011-14, has been unanimously elected as the chairman of the Czech Sovereignty of Social Democracy party (SOCDEM), previously known as ČSSD. Paroubek's appointment occurred during an extraordinary party congress in Prague, attended by former president Miloš Zeman.

The party, formerly led by Jana Volfová, has rebranded itself from ČSSD and aims to reclaim the political scene. Paroubek criticized the current government's weak leadership and foreign influences, advocating for a stronger left-wing presence. With regional and parliamentary elections ahead, he emphasizes the need for structural improvement and expert input in the party's program.

Border Austria extends border checks with Czechia

Austria announced the extension of border controls with the Czech Republic for an additional two months, lasting until mid-April, as reported by the Ministry of the Interior in Vienna. The measure aims to combat illegal migration, smuggling, and terrorism, emphasized Interior Minister Gerhard Karner.

Austria initiated border checks with the Czech Republic in October due to heightened migratory pressure, originally slated to end on February 16. Similar measures are enforced along borders with Slovakia, Hungary, and Slovenia, while random checks occur along borders with Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. Last year, over 700 traffickers were apprehended in Austria, prompting smugglers to avoid the country.

Money Czech crown hits new two-year-low against euro

The Czech crown continued to weaken against the euro on Friday, reaching CZK 25.45/EUR, hitting a two-year low. The crown also fell against the dollar to CZK 23.63/USD. Conversely, the Prague Stock Exchange strengthened on Friday, with the PX index rising by 0.47 percent to 1489.38 points, reaching its highest level since mid-2008.

The recent koruna depreciation follows a base interest rate cut by the Czech National Bank last week to 6.25 percent. Speaking to Czech News Agency, Martin Gürtler from Komerční banka noted the impact of narrowed interest rate differentials on the crown's value.

Art Czech artist Aleš Lamr passes away at 80

Renowned artist Aleš Lamr, celebrated for his collaboration with former Czech President Václav Havel, passed away at the age of 80 in Prague on Friday. Born in 1943 in Olomouc, Lamr's career spanned decades, evolving from Czech pop art to spiritual themes. In the 1990s, he adorned Prague Castle's presidential office with murals and crafted New Year's cards for Havel.

Lamr's vibrant works grace collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. His artistic legacy earned him accolades such as the Joan Miró Prize in 1985 and the Salvador Dalí Prize in 2000. He leaves behind a profound imprint on Czech art.

RUSSIA Czech NGOs criticize Russia after Navalny death

Czech humanitarian organization People in Need declared today on the X network that the death of imprisoned Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny underscores the world's insecurity until Russian President Vladimir Putin and his regime face accountability for their crimes. 

Pavel Gruber, director of Amnesty International's Czech branch, urged the international community to demand an immediate, independent investigation into Navalny's death. People in Need asserted Navalny as another victim of Putin's regime, citing thousands of deaths attributed to Putin's rule in various regions. They emphasized the necessity of holding Putin and his regime accountable for their actions to ensure global safety.

developments Prague approves of ex-Vyšehrad station rebuild

Deputy Prague Mayor Petr Hlaváček announced Friday that Prague endorses the renovation of the former Vyšehrad railway station and permits its transformation and adjacent apartment construction, provided a high-quality architectural study is submitted. This follows the proposed plan by new owners, Karlin Port Real Estate, who recently acquired the long-neglected listed railway station dating back to the early 20th century. 

National rail carrier Česká dráhy sold the station in 2007. While the city supports integrating new functions like housing and services, Hlaváček clarified it has not received the specific development proposal, making it possible only to address the general approach to the location.

WEATHER New weather records amid warm February

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute reported Friday that 23 out of approximately 165 locations in the Czech Republic recorded their highest temperatures for Feb. 16 in at least 30 years. Notably, Vyšší Brod in the Český Krumlov region set a new record with a temperature of 17.4 degrees Celsius, surpassing the previous high from 2020.

Warm conditions persisted in Šumava, Karvinsk, and the Javornice area, reminiscent of temperatures observed in 2020 and 1998. Other locations, including Kvilda, Karviná, Kvilda-Perla, Hliniště, Churáňov, Ropice, Lučina, Javorník, and Hojsova Stráž, also reported new Feb. 16 highs. Meteorologists predict continued warmth, with temperatures ranging from 9 to 13 degrees Celsius on Saturday.

DEVELOPMENTS New plans mooted for Miloš Forman Square

Wealth-management firm R2G, the investor in reconstructing the brutalist Intercontinental Hotel in Prague, is proposing a new project for Miloš Forman Square. Instead of the previously rejected Brand Store, it is now promoting a cuboid-shaped building, with plans to secure the project through a memorandum with the capital and Prague 1. 

The Ministry of Culture and Local Development stopped the previous proposal for a taller building because of preservation concerns. As a result, there is still an active petition with over 3,000 signatures against any development on Miloš Forman Square.

education Over 100,000 students apply for schools online

Minister of Education Mikuláš Bek announced on X that 100,000 applicants utilized the electronic application system for secondary schools within two weeks. Minister Bek encouraged interested individuals not to wait until the last minute, as the submission deadline is Feb. 20. 

Miroslav Krejčí, director of the Cermat organization overseeing admissions, revised the estimated total of secondary school applicants for this year to be around 135,000, surpassing the initial projection of 120,000. The DiPSy electronic system experienced launch delays on Feb. 1 due to attachment upload and security verification issues. Additionally, it faced repeated cyberattacks aiming to disrupt server functionality.

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