Czech news in brief for February 18: Sunday's top headlines

Czech President says Navalny's death will bring repercussions, warm weather brings early allergy season, and more Sunday headlines. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 18.02.2024 08:30:00 (updated on 18.02.2024) Reading time: 5 minutes

Protest Hundreds take part in Pro-Palestinian protest

Hundreds took part in a protest at Prague's Náměstí Míru in support of Palestine on Sunday, condemning Israel's retaliatory actions and criticizing Czech politicians for backing Israel. The demonstration, featuring Palestinian flags and banners, was proceeded by a march through the city center.

Prague City Hall had initially banned a planned event due to a slogan perceived as advocating Israel's destruction, but this ban was later overturned by a court ruling. Speakers highlighted civilian suffering in Gaza, labeling Israeli actions as genocide.

Health Boy with rare genetic disorder returns to Czechia

After undergoing treatment in Montpellier, France, a two-year-old Czech boy with a rare genetic disorder has returned home. Martin received gene therapy treatment after a public collection raised over CZK 150 million last year. Following a successful procedure, Martin was transported to Motol hospital from Prague's airport.

His family reports positive changes so far as Martin undergoes rehabilitation. Afflicted by AADC syndrome, a severe neurological condition, Martin's treatment cost EUR 4.2 million, which was not covered by insurance. Over 307,000 donors contributed to his treatment. His family plans to use surplus funds for other children and advocate for better healthcare for disabled youths.

Sports Czech takes gold at World Shooting Championships

Jiří Přívratský claimed victory in air rifle shooting at the World Cup in Granada, marking his fifth career series win. Přívratský's path to victory was marked by a dramatic qualification round where he secured ninth place and only advanced to the final due to a competitor's disqualification.

In a tense finale, he outperformed Hungary's István Péni, clinching victory with a remarkable final shot. Reflecting on his win, Přívratský attributed his success to good form and focus, acknowledging the tight competition.

Agriculture Prague braces for massive farmer protest Monday

Prague will see major traffic disruptions tomorrow as 600 to 1,000 tractors are set to converge in the city center, protesting against the government's adherence to the EU's Green Deal. Organizers plan to block highways and enter the city from six directions, targeting the Ministry of Agriculture.

The protest, led by trade unions and agricultural groups, demands support for Czech agriculture amid EU policies like halving fertilizer use. Authorities advise working from home and using public transport. The protest's impact could extend to Malostranské náměstí in the afternoon.

Ukraine Pavel assures Zelenskyy of continued assistance

Czech President Petr Pavel reassured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of continued support during the Munich Security Conference. Pavel confirmed ongoing aid and assistance, assuring that Czechia's commitment remains steadfast. Plans were disclosed to explore financing options with Denmark, the Netherlands, and Canada for arms and ammunition procurement in third countries.

Pavel highlighted the potential for purchasing artillery ammunition for Ukraine outside the EU, pending funding. Discussions with U.S. Special Representative Penny Pritzker emphasized the need for proactive steps in Ukraine's economic recovery, stressing coordinated efforts for rebuilding amidst ongoing conflict.

Animals Storks return to Czechia after winter migration

In Pilsen, the return of the first white storks after winter was observed this week, but they likely didn't migrate from Africa. Instead, they may have spent the winter in Spain or German bird parks. Karel Makoň from the Pilsen animal rescue station noted sightings in Spálené Poříčí and Mirošov.

Conservationists are preparing for their return, modifying nests to prevent collapses. While storks traditionally winter in Africa, many now stay in Europe, relying on human-provided food in Germany or Spain. Widespread migration back to the Czech Republic is expected in March or April.

International Pavel: Navalny's death to have repercussions

Czech President Petr Pavel, attending the Munich Security Conference, addressed the recent death of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, emphasizing its significance in highlighting the nature of the Russian regime. He stated that while Navalny's death may not be directly related to the war in Ukraine, it sheds light on the regime's actions.

Pavel expressed the belief that Navalny's demise would have repercussions for the Russian government. The Czech President highlighted the importance of technological aid to Ukraine in the face of the ongoing conflict, stressing the need for effective support measures to counterbalance Russian aggression.

Weather Warm weather brings early allergy season

Recent hazelnut blossoms have signal the early onset of the pollen season in the Czech Republic, according to local meteorologists, spurred by unusually warm weather. Should high temperatures continue, alder trees, another pollen allergen, will also soon bloom.

Hazelnut trees have blossomed earlier and earlier in recent years, with last year's bloom beginning in mid-January but reaching full bloom in mid-February, akin to this year's pattern. Pollen levels are influenced by weather conditions, including temperature, sunlight, wind, and precipitation, impacting allergy sufferers. Real-time pollen threat assessments are available on the website of the CHMI.

Migration Germany extends border checks with Czechia

Germany has extended its border checks with Czechia, following Austria's lead, citing the need to combat illegal migration facilitated by people smugglers. German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser revealed that since October 16, authorities recorded 23,000 unauthorized attempts to cross its border with Czechia, Switzerland, Poland, and Austria.

Originally scheduled to last until March 15, these checks will now be reassessed every six months in accordance with Schengen rules. Meanwhile, various types of checks remain in place at Czech borders with Slovakia, Germany, and Austria, with only random checks at the Czech-Slovak border.

Legal Czech think thank criticizes HHC ban

The Czech Republic's Rational Dependency Policy Think Tank (TTRPZ) has rebuked the Czech government's ban on HHC products, arguing it contradicts evidence-based addiction policy. Departing from its program statement, the government has moved to ban HHC substances following reported overdoses.

TTRPZ criticized the decision's lack of scientific basis, fearing it may lead to unjust prosecution. While acknowledging HHC's risks, TTRPZ stressed the need for comprehensive substance regulation laws and an independent office to address addiction impartially. The ban faces backlash from experts and patient associations advocating for cannabis derivatives' medicinal use.

Environment Half of Czech companies reducing carbon footprint

According to a recent PwC survey of Czech CEOs, more than half of Czech companies, 53 percent, are actively reducing their carbon footprint. A third have formulated decarbonization strategies or started carbon footprint calculations. However, a fifth hesitate due to lower returns on greener ventures. Notably, 35 percent believe their business remains unaffected by decarbonization.

CEOs cite legal complexities as a primary hurdle, with evolving regulations hindering progress. Yet, only a fifth see reduced profits as a major obstacle, indicating a growing willingness to prioritize climate action. With ambitions for climate neutrality by 2050, concerted efforts and investments are imperative for sustained competitiveness, emphasized industry leaders.

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