Czech news in brief for February 21: Wednesday's top headlines

Cermat register 142,000 secondary-school applicants, new Czech building law sparks concern in construction industry, and more top headlines.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 21.02.2024 09:02:00 (updated on 21.02.2024) Reading time: 5 minutes

HEALTH Two-year-old boy with rare disease leaves hospital

A two-year-old Czech boy with AADC syndrome, a rare genetic disorder affecting neurotransmitter metabolism in the brain, has been discharged from the Faculty Hospital in Motola and is now in a home environment. Martínek's neurological condition is developing as expected and is stabilized, according to the head of the Department of Pediatric Neurology, Pavel Kršek. 

The boy received CZK 150 million in donations from the public to cover his treatment in France, which is ongoing. AADC syndrome is a disease with only 120 confirmed cases worldwide, and its symptoms include weak muscles, difficulty holding up the head, and an inability to learn to walk. Although there is currently no cure, gene therapy may provide some relief for those affected by this condition.

POLITICS and DEFENSE Czech MPs disagree on military service

According to a poll among members of parliament in Czechia, politicians are in disagreement about Czechia implementing some form of military service. Those in favor argue that it is necessary to have trained reserves in case of conflict, while critics argue that reviving conscription is unnecessary. 

Chief of the General Staff Karel Řehka discussed the topic on Tuesday, emphasizing the need to invest in human capital and modernize the army. Deputy chairman of the military committee from the opposition ANO party is against the return of military service in any form, citing a lack of commitment and demotivation among soldiers.

UKRAINE Czech NGOs give billions to Ukraine since 2022

Czech humanitarian organizations, People in Need and ADRA, have provided aid and assistance to millions of Ukrainians, including refugees who have moved to Czechia. Over CZK 4.7 billion have been raised through collections from half a million donors, and more than 500 staff members are currently working in Ukraine. 

AGENCY PROPERTIES

Apartment for sale, 3+1 - 2 bedrooms, 65m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for sale, 3+1 - 2 bedrooms, 65m2

Kladenská, Karlovy Vary - Stará Role

Apartment for rent, 1+KK - Studio, 31m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 1+KK - Studio, 31m2

Brunclíkova, Praha 6 - Břevnov

Apartment for rent, 3+1 - 2 bedrooms, 78m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 3+1 - 2 bedrooms, 78m2

Amforová, Praha 5 - Stodůlky

Apartment for rent, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 66m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 66m2

Petýrkova, Praha 4 - Chodov

People in Need has focused on delivering food and water, repairing houses, and supporting media, and documenting war crimes. In Czechia, they continue to help refugees who are struggling with resources, health issues, or caregiving responsibilities. ADRA has also assisted over 313,000 people and collected CZK 250 million. The organizations plan to hold events in Czechia to commemorate the two-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

HOUSING Apartment prices fell almost 6pc in 2023

According to the ČSOB Housing Index, apartment prices in the Czech Republic fell by 5.8 percent year on year in 2023, with a gradual decrease of 2.5 percent in the first quarter and 0.2 percent by the end of the year. The price of family houses remained stagnant, but land prices increased by 7.2 percent. 

Demand for family houses increased by 16 percent, with a focus on smaller, well-maintained houses. CEO of ČSOB Hypoteční banka Martin Vašek believes that the price decline for apartments and houses is over and expects a return to growth in the spring.

AGRICULTURE PROTESTS 2024 European farmers plan joint protest Thursday

Farmers from Eastern European countries, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Croatia, Romania, and Slovenia, are planning to join the ongoing protests in Western Europe. The protests will take place at border crossings on Thursday in a joint effort to disrupt the supply of grain from the east.

Jan Doležal, president of the Agrarian Chamber of the Czech Republic, stated that the protests aim to raise awareness and are not intended to block traffic, although there is a possibility that border blockades may occur. The main protest for Czech farmers will be held at the Hodonín border crossing, with participation from Slovak and Hungarian farmers.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Czech ForMin summons Russian ambassador

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský has summoned Russian Ambassador to Prague Alexander Zmeyevsky over the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a Siberian prison. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Daniel Drake confirmed that Lipavský has requested an explanation for the circumstances of Navalny's death and the refusal to release his body to his family. 

The Russian prison service reported that Navalny fell ill and lost consciousness during a walk and could not be revived. Russian authorities say they do not want to return the body due to “testing needs.”

Education Cermat registers 142,000 school applicants

A total of 142,000 applicants have registered for secondary schools, exceeding the initial estimate of 130,000 to 135,000, reports Cermat. The organization plans to analyze application structures in the coming week, focusing on groups with higher application numbers. Of the 137,000 domestic applicants, 5,000 are from abroad.

Variants include more applications for multi-year grammar schools or those from high school students seeking significant changes. The Ministry of Education extended the application deadline by a day due to system delay outages and to alleviate parental stress. Concerns persist about potential DDoS attacks on the DiPSy system. Unified entrance exams are scheduled for April.

Economy Czechia's new building law sparks concern

According to a survey by the Czech Chamber of Authorized Engineers and Technicians, Czechia's new construction law, effective July 1, has sparked concerns among construction professionals, including engineers and entrepreneurs. Based on input from 1,100 chamber members, the study challenges claims that the law would expedite building permits, emphasizing that permits typically took several months, not years, under the old Building Act.

The new law, set to digitize construction processes, allows authorization under the old act until 2027. The survey highlights the importance of joint zoning and building management for efficiency, with permits for complex structures sometimes delayed for years due to lawsuits.

Prague Capital removes 'shameful' protest shelters

Prague 1, in collaboration with the municipality and police, plans to dismantle protest shelters in front of the government office, established in May 2023 during anti-government activist Ondřej Thor’s ongoing protest. The mayor, Terezie Radoměřská, deems the camp a “shameful slum,” exceeding the petition place concept, citing security, operational, and hygiene issues.

The city is preparing a procedural and potentially legal approach, with a decision expected by April’s end. Authorities claim fines were issued for sidewalk parking, seeking an opinion from the Ministry of the Interior on the loosely conceived petition law, proposing necessary amendments. Activist Thor aims to stay until the government resigns.

Environment Czech groundwater is the best since 2015

Czech Republic’s groundwater conditions, described as the best since 2015 by hydrologist Martin Zrzavecky of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, have notably improved. Due to warm weather, recent heavy rain and snow thaw in the mountains contributed to the resurgence.

The Luznice and Jihlava river basins reported normal levels. In contrast, at the end of last week, the Olse, Ostravice, Dyje, and the confluence area of Dyje and Morava rivers showed slightly below normal levels. This positive development follows several years of water scarcity, replenishing some wells.

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