Czech news in brief for February 24: Saturday's top headlines

Czechia observes two years since Russian full-scale invasion, Sparta and Slavia Prague drawn with European football giants, Fiala to meet Macron, and more. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 24.02.2024 08:30:00 (updated on 24.02.2024) Reading time: 5 minutes

Prague Political prisoners' names placed on Ruská Street

In Prague's Vršovice neighborhood along Ruská (Russia) Street, stickers bearing the names of Russian political prisoners and dissidents were affixed to numerous street signs and a tram stop. This act coincided with the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the recent death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Accompanied by a message lamenting these events, QR codes linked to a website detailing information about the prisoners. Police reported approximately 25 affected signs and pledged investigation. The act underscores ongoing tensions and support for Ukraine on the second anniversary of the Russian invasion.

Sports Siniaková wins doubles title in Dubai

Czech tennis player Kateřina Siniaková clinched the doubles title at the Dubai Tennis Championships alongside Australian partner Storm Hunter. The duo secured victory in the final against the American-Australian pair Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez with a score of 6-4, 6-2.

This marks Siniaková and Hunter's second win as a doubles team, their first of the season, achieved without dropping a set. Their previous victory together was two years ago in Berlin. With this win, Siniaková, a former world number one in doubles, adds her 24th career title.

Accident Czech tourist seriously injured after Sněžka fall

A 32-year-old Czech tourist was seriously injured after a fall on the Polish side of Sněžka mountain, the Czech Republic's tallest peak. Rescued by helicopter, they were transported to a trauma center in Hradec Králové. Despite being unconscious and hypothermic, they received prompt medical attention.

This incident follows the tragic deaths of two Polish tourists on January 30, who fell 900 meters from Sněžka. Another fall occurred on February 6, with a Czech tourist escaping unharmed. Access to Sněžka on the Polish side is limited to a chained-off path; Czech routes run from Růžová hora and Pomezní bud.

Weather Elevated river levels expected to recede by Sunday

The Czech Institute of Natural Resources and Environment anticipates a decline in raised river levels by Sunday noon. The Elbe's lower and middle sections will remain at the first (lowest) flood level until then, while the Morava's levels in the Olomouc region are expected to drop partially today and fully by Sunday noon, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute.

Meteorologists have revised flood warnings, with levels forecasted to recede across the country by Sunday. Recent rains prompted the rise in water levels, with flood warnings in effect for various areas, including Kostelec nad Labem, Litoměřice, Děčín, and Šumpersko. Precautionary closures were initiated in Děčín due to flood threats.

War Ukraine praises Czech efforts to source ammunition

Ukrainian Ambassador to the EU Vsevolod Chentsov praised the Czech Republic's initiative to expedite deliveries, emphasizing the need of support in countering the Russian threat during an interview with EU journalists on the second anniversary of the invasion. He urged a comprehensive strategy, including continued pressure on Russia and bolstered sanctions.

Chentsov cautioned against complacency, citing Ukraine's resilience and the imperative of sustained international backing. He appreciated Czech efforts, signaling a broader coalition in support of Ukraine's defense.

Politics Prague district mayor fined for Palestine comments

Prague-Reporyje Mayor Pavel Novotný has been fined for inciting hatred after calling for the bombing of Palestinians on social media. The court's decision, made on February 16, was received by Novotný on February 23. While he did not disclose the amount of the fine, he stated it was significant and would not be appealed.

Novotný's comments followed a terrorist attack in Jerusalem by Hamas in December 2023. The Civic Democratic Party distanced itself from his remarks, and Novotný has since apologized and removed the post. He is currently on probation for previous social media harassment charges.

DIPLOMACY Czech PM to meet Macron, discuss Ukraine

Prime Minister Petr Fiala will join a Czech delegation led by national security adviser Tomáš Pojar at a Monday meeting in Paris with European leaders and government officials to discuss the situation in Ukraine, the Government Office announced Friday. President Petr Pavel's participation is yet to be confirmed.

The meeting, organized by French President Emmanuel Macron, aims to strengthen cooperation in support of Ukraine. The Czech Republic has proposed collecting USD 1.5 billion (CZK 35.1 billion) for ammunition for Ukraine, with Pavel mentioning the possibility of purchasing artillery shells in third countries.

UKRAINE Interior minister wants to extend refugee stays

Interior Minister Vít Rakušan is working to extend temporary protection for Ukrainian refugees at an EU-wide level and is preparing Czech legislation to help those who wish to stay permanently. Temporary protection allows people to access public health insurance, education, and the labor market, and EU states agreed last autumn to extend it until March 2025.

Rakušan emphasized the positive contributions of the 120,000 Ukrainian workers in Czechia, with CZK 35 billion already returned to the budget through their work. The number of employed refugees is also increasing, positively impacting the country's economy.

Public Opinion Most Czechs have poor outlook on economy

According to newly released findings from the Center for Public Opinion Research (CVVM), most Czech citizens have a negative opinion of their country's economic situation, with 58 percent rating it as bad and only 12 percent as good. 

This has been the trend since mid-2022, CVVM says, with the most recent survey in August and September 2023 showing similar results. In contrast, 62 percent of people believe their household's standard of living is good, with 15 percent describing it as very good. Young people were more likely to rate the country’s economy optimistically.

FOOTBALL Sparta, Slavia Prague to face European champions

During the draw for the UEFA Europa League knockout stages on Friday, the Round of 16 matchups paired both Sparta and Slavia Prague with top European teams. Liverpool, the Premier League leaders, will face Sparta, while AC Milan, multiple winners of the Champions League, will take on Slavia. 

Sparta will play at home first as an unseeded team, while Slavia will begin away. The first matches will take place on March 7, with the second leg a week later. Sparta and Slavia could not face each other as teams from the same country cannot meet in this round.

sport Czech 18-year-old advances to Doha tennis final

Eighteen-year-old Czech tennis player Jakub Menšík caused a surprise upset in an ATP 250 tournament in Doha by claiming a three-set win over Frenchman Gaël Monfils in the semi-finals Friday. Menšík will now face Karen Khachanov in the final, becoming the youngest finalist in the tournament's 30-year history. 

In an on-court interview, Menšík expressed his excitement and hopes for more future finals. Menšík, currently ranked 116th in the world, is the youngest ATP finalist since Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in 2021. He will move into the top 100 for the first time after his impressive performance in Doha.

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