Czech news in brief for January 26: Friday's top headlines

Istanbul Convention stirs up greater debate, Finance Ministry worsens economic outlook, and Auschwitz liberation commemorated in Czechia.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 26.01.2024 10:05:00 (updated on 26.01.2024) Reading time: 5 minutes

TRAFFIC ALERT D1 highway partially closed after truck accident

Following a truck accident, the D1 highway was shut at the 26th kilometer in the direction of Prague. Traffic towards Brno resumed at around 3:30 p.m. – the route to Prague remains closed as of 5 p.m.

The incident involved a truck transporting empty containers, with no injuries reported. You can find real-time traffic updates on dopravniinfo.cz.

HEALTH Respiratory infection rates near epidemic levels

According to new data from regional hygiene stations, the Moravia-Silesia region reports a 27 percent surge in respiratory infections week on week, with the city of Opava having the highest morbidity – at 2,402 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In Hradec Králové, infections rose by 24.6 percent, reaching 1,610 cases per 100,000 residents. 

The highest incidence rate of respiratory infections nationwide is in the Hradec Králové district – children are worst-affected. Epidemic levels are anticipated, with the situation expected to peak next week, according to epidemiologists. South Moravia and Pardubice are seeing similar trends.

CRIME Police detain man after random Prague attacks

Prague police have this afternoon apprehended a man suspected of assaulting multiple individuals in Kunratice Forest and attacking a woman with an axe in Hostavice (Prague 9) Thursday. The arrest occurred around 1:30 p.m. The assailant injured at least two people in the forest, including a 70-year-old man with a head injury, who is stable. Another victim received on-site treatment. 

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Criminal investigators also said today that they are looking into whether the attack in Hostavice was related to Thursday's discovery of a murdered man at the Kyje pond in eastern Prague. The suspect's identity has not been revealed.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Czechia thanks Turkey for Sweden NATO approval

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský has expressed his approval of Turkey's ratification of Sweden's entry into NATO, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signing the relevant document on Thursday. 

Lipavský believes that with this final step, NATO will soon convince Hungary to allow Sweden to also join NATO. Sweden, along with Finland, applied to join NATO in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in May 2022. Finland's application was approved last year and the country became a member in April. Hungary is the only country that has not greenlighted Sweden’s NATO entry.

GUN LAWS Czech parliament passes new ammunitions law

The Chamber of Deputies has passed a new law on handling military munitions, including grenades, bombs, mines, and shells, of 20 millimeters or larger. This area was previously regulated under the law on weapons, but will now be addressed separately. The bill, which also covers pyrotechnic surveys, will now be discussed by the Senate.

It aims to simplify and modernize regulations, reduce administrative burden, and transition to electronic communication through the Central Register of Arms portal. The new law will also abolish physical documents and set stricter conditions for obtaining and holding a license to handle ammunition.

HISTORY Czech PM pays tribute to Holocaust victims

On the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Senate Speaker Miloš Vystrčil spoke about the importance of remembering the Holocaust and other crimes against humanity. Fiala emphasized that the Holocaust serves as a reminder of the existence of both goodness and evil in people, and stressed the responsibility to protect the vulnerable and fight against hatred. 

Vystrčil echoed this sentiment, stating that society must remember the horrors of the Holocaust as a warning against the dangers of hatred and indifference. In his speech, he recalled last year's Hamas terror attack on Israeli civilians, but also the victims of a gunman who killed 14 people at the Faculty of Arts in Prague in December.

Protests Demonstrators demand justice for rape victim

About 150 demonstrators gathered in front of the Brno Regional Court demanding justice for sexual violence victims, particularly protesting a recent case where a man's three-year prison sentence for raping his stepdaughter was softened to a suspended one. Organizers criticized the inadequate sentence, asserting a flawed system.

A similar protest occurred outside Prague's Justice Ministry. The district court initially sentenced the man for rape and child pornography, but the appeals court's lenient decision sparked widespread criticism. The General Prosecutor's Office has taken up the case. Protesters called for support for sexual violence survivors, expressing discontent with the legal system's failure.

anniversary ForMin: Holocaust must never be forgotten

Prague's Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský emphasized the importance of never forgetting the Holocaust tragedy at a commemorative event on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Speaking on the 79th anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation, Lipavský urged listening to survivors' testimonies, learning from the horrors, and combatting anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and racism.

He also noted the upcoming anniversaries of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Hamas attack on Israeli civilians, emphasizing the collective responsibility to stand against war crimes and crimes against humanity. Israeli and U.S. ambassadors, along with Holocaust survivor Dita Krausová, also addressed the event.

society Czechia pays fourth-lowest public TV fees in EU

Czech households pay the fourth-lowest fees for public media in the European Union, according to a study by Datarun comparing media situations in nine European countries. Television fees in the Czech Republic have remained unchanged since 2008, while radio fees have stayed the same since 2005.

The study reveals a trend in the EU of transitioning media financing from fees to some form of tax, with several countries, including Slovakia, France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, and Iceland, abolishing fees. The study also notes a growing focus on clearly defining the content broadcast by public media, particularly in relation to commercial media.

economy Czech Finance Ministry worsens economic outlook

The Czech Ministry of Finance has revised its economic growth forecast, anticipating a 1.2 percent GDP increase in 2024, down from the previous estimate of almost 2 percent. Despite the positive outlook on inflation, expected to stay below three percent for most of the year, Finance Minister Zbyňek Stanjura emphasized the importance of lower inflation over higher consumption.

The Ministry does not anticipate a significant impact from the previous year's approved consolidation package on 2024 GDP growth, asserting its role in controlling inflation. Unemployment is projected to rise slightly from 2.6 to 2.8 percent, while real wages are expected to increase.

society Human rights head urges treaty ratification

Prague's Human Rights Commissioner, Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková, urged the Czech Republic to promptly ratify the Istanbul Convention against violence on women and domestic violence. The Senate fell two votes short of approving the ratification, prompting Šimáčková to advocate for a renewed ratification process after addressing misinformation.

While opponents claim the convention is redundant and contains gender ideology, proponents argue it signals a commitment to combating violence. Šimáčková emphasized the need to refute misinformation, clarifying that the convention does not interfere with Czechia's legal order or identity. The Commissioner plans to continue efforts for ratification, anticipating it may involve the next government.

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