Czech news in brief for January 25: Thursday's top headlines

Senate rejects Istanbul Convention, Wednesday in Czechia sees record road fatalities, weekend to see above average temps, and more top headlines. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 25.01.2024 08:32:00 (updated on 26.01.2024) Reading time: 6 minutes

CRIME Woman attacked with axe in Prague

Police attended this afternoon a report of a woman being attacked by an unknown perpetrator with an axe on U Hostavického Potoka Street in Prague 14, injuring her in the head. A man on the spot has been arrested, though it is not confirmed whether he was the attacker. Police are still seeking other potential suspects.

"The woman in her 30s suffered multiple stab wounds to her head. She is fully conscious and out of danger," said Karel Kirs, press spokesman for the Prague rescue service. On the same afternoon, a member of public found a dead body in Kyjské pond, which is around a 10-minute drive away. However, they are treating both incidents as unrelated.

ECONOMY Finance Ministry expects slight growth in 2024

The Ministry of Finance predicts 1.2 percent GDP growth in the Czech economy in 2024, rebounding from a 0.6 percent decline in the previous year. Annual inflation is forecasted at 3.1 percent, down from the 10.7 percent recorded last year. Despite economic recovery driven by increasing household consumption, the nation won't reach pre-pandemic levels this year. 

The ministry adjusted the GDP growth estimate from 1.9 percent to reflect the slower recovery. Minister of Finance Zbyňek Stanjura cautions against setting a eurozone entry date, citing geopolitical risks like conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East. He anticipates Czech GDP outpacing the eurozone average.

LAW Chamber passes postal-voting bill

The government's proposal for postal voting for Czech expatriates won initial approval from the Chamber of Deputies after facing opposition filibustering. ANO and Freedom and Direct Democracy members of parliament suggested rejecting, postponing, or revising the draft, but the majority coalition rejected these proposals. The coalition government supports the idea of postal voting, saying that it is ultimately good for Czech democracy and brings Czechia in line with other Western countries.

The parliamentary session, spanning 63 net hours, prompted the coalition to set a fixed voting time. The bill will now proceed to the lower house's constitutional and legal committee for further consideration. 

society Czechs most concerned about health, money

According to research by BNP Paribas Cardif Pojišťovna and Ipsos agency, Czechs are most concerned about their health and finances, with these worries increasing with age. The confidence index, which measures the level of security among the population, currently stands at 43 out of 100. 

The research also found that those with higher education and income tend to have a greater sense of security. However, the pillar of health scored the lowest in the index, with many Czechs neglecting regular preventive check-ups. Young people under the age of 34 have a higher index in the health chapter, yet this group feels more often emotionally unstable than the older population.

WEATHER Strong wind warnings issued in parts of Czechia

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has updated its warning for strong winds in the Czech Republic on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The northwest region of Moravia and Silesia will experience gusts of up to 70 kilometers per hour, with winds picking up again in the same area on Friday evening. 

The warning will be in effect from 8 p.m. on Friday until Saturday morning, affecting the Pardubice region and parts of other regions. Strong winds have been recorded in the past days, with gusts of 180 kilometers per hour (km/h) on the Polish side of Sněžka and 107 km/h at Luční bouda.

SEXUAL VIOLENCE PM: Istanbul Convention requires more debate

Prime Minister Petr Fiala stated in an interview today that the Istanbul Convention on violence against women and domestic violence needs to be discussed more thoroughly before being adopted. He believes that some coalition partners rushed the ratification process and that a broader debate could have potentially changed the outcome. 

He also mentioned that this situation highlights the importance of patience and allowing for public and political discourse before making decisions, especially on ethical and ideological matters. Fiala expressed his own hesitation towards rushing the approval and acknowledged that the convention's failure to pass in the Senate will not have any practical consequences.

Legislation Czech Senate rejects Istanbul Convention

Last night, the Czech Senate narrowly rejected the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, with only 34 out of 71 present senators supporting its ratification, falling two votes short of adoption. The decision places the Czech Republic among the minority of countries that have signed but not ratified the Istanbul Convention.

The seven-hour debate preceding the vote highlighted deep divisions between supporters and opponents of the convention. Despite appeals from President Petr Pavel and an emotional speech from Senate President Milos Vystrcil, a consensus was not reached.

politics Senate approves Constitutional Court appointment

The Czech Senate has approved the appointment of lawyer Milan Hulmak as the new constitutional judge, succeeding Jiri Zemanek. Hulmak, a 49-year-old expert in private law from Palacky University, Olomouc, secured 51 out of 73 votes in a secret ballot. He pledged to focus on consumer and tenancy law, emphasizing uniform rulings in the Constitutional Court.

Hulmak vowed to cease legal activities and limit lecturing if appointed. The president is expected to nominate three more constitutional judge candidates this year. Senate committee chairman Tomas Golan recommended considering Roman Fiala for a future vacancy.

weather Weekend to see above-average temps

The upcoming weekend in Czechia promises above-average warmth, with daytime temperatures reaching nine degrees Celsius today and Friday, followed by seven degrees on Saturday and Sunday. Nighttime temperatures may dip below freezing starting Friday. While showers are expected to be mostly isolated, the wind, which lessened overnight, is anticipated to remain strong in mountainous areas and the western and northern parts of Moravia.

Meteorologists note that although Wednesday saw record temperatures at nearly a third of measuring stations, a slight cooling has occurred. The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute expects the week ahead to remain warmer than average.

traffic Czechia sees record road fatalities Wednesday

Wednesday marked the most tragic day for traffic fatalities in Czechia in nearly four and a quarter years. With seven fatalities in traffic accidents, as reported by the traffic police's monthly statistics, the last time a higher toll occurred was on Nov. 11, 2019, when eight individuals lost their lives.

In 2021, the daily maximum for traffic accident fatalities was five, occurring on seven days, the most recent being Nov. 13. Wednesday's unfortunate incidents began with a morning collision near Kunovice, resulting in one fatality. Subsequent accidents included a fatal collision at a railway crossing, a pedestrian fatality, a truck collision, and an evening crash on the D1 highway near Brno, claiming three lives.

Health Czechia to join groundbreaking psychadelics study

The Czech National Institute of Mental Health (NUDZ) is set to participate in groundbreaking research on psychedelic therapy for individuals in palliative care. This research, known as PsyPal, involves a consortium of 19 organizations across nine European countries and is backed by a 6.5 million-euro EU grant.

Coordinated by the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands, PsyPal aims to investigate the potential of psilocybin, a psychedelic substance, in alleviating psychological and existential distress among patients facing incurable diseases. NUDZ's Psychedelics Research Centre head, Tomas Palenicek, highlighted the proven efficacy of psychedelics in relieving distress in cancer patients and their promising potential in treating other conditions like depressive disorders and addictions.

capital Prague to discuss condition of Libeň bridge

Representatives convene for the first meeting of the year, addressing issues like the Libeň bridge's condition, the metro D second phase contract, and metro operations automation. Social grant distribution is also on the agenda, while new security measures restrict access to the New Town Hall. The Technical Administration of Communications closed part of the Libeň bridge two weeks ago due to technical faults, impacting tram services.

Experts are evaluating reopening possibilities. The transport company (DPP) plans an 86 billion crown tender for metro line C's automation and automatic trains for line D, with delivery scheduled post-2029 and a 35-year maintenance period.

Legalization Govt. council recommends regulated cannabis market

The Czech government's National Economic Council (NERV) has reiterated its recommendation for the implementation of a legal regulated cannabis market in Czechia, part of a proposal outlining 37 measures to stimulate economic growth. NERV argues that adjusting criminal rates and sentencing principles, coupled with introducing a regulated cannabis market, would be more effective in reducing consumption and harm, providing potential economic benefits.

A bill for a controlled cannabis market is being prepared, with anti-drug policy coordinator Jindrich Voboril leading the initiative, while the Christian Democrats oppose such changes. The state could potentially gain CZK 2.5 billion in VAT and excise tax with a regulated cannabis market, according to NERV.

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