Czech news in brief for January 30: Tuesday's top headlines

Pavel warns of Trump re-election, month-long memorial for Charles University ends today, and Czech paleontologists unearth rare feline find. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 30.01.2024 09:06:00 (updated on 30.01.2024) Reading time: 6 minutes

ANIMALS Bird flu outbreak detected in Czech farm

Minister of Agriculture Marek Výborný has announced there has been an outbreak of bird flu at the Mach Poultry company in Choceň (Pardubice), necessitating the culling of nearly 70,000 hens and roosters. 

Radek Axmann from the Regional Veterinary Administration in Pardubice stressed the urgency of eliminating the infection risk by disposing of all eggs from the farm, situated near Kosořín village. The entire facility is subjected to stringent measures, including establishing protection and surveillance zones. To date, the largest outbreak of bird flu in a large-scale farm in the Czech Republic appeared in Pilsen at the end of 2022, when over 740,000 poultry had to be culled.

work Record amount of entrepreneurs cease activities

According to data from the CRIF-Czech Credit Bureau, a record 282,658 entrepreneurs ceased operations last year due to the new requirement of having a data box, while 72,529 opened businesses or became self-employed – the highest level in a decade. CRIF analyst Věra Kameníčková notes that the data box mandate prompted many inactive entrepreneurs to cease operation automatically, resulting in a 10-percent decrease in overall self-employed numbers.

However, interest in first-time entrepreneurship surged, particularly among Ukrainians, who comprised 10 percent of new entrepreneurs, up from 8 percent in 2022. Last year, 10,085 entrepreneurs entered the processing industry, 9,524 in construction, and 8,780 began professional, scientific, and technical activities. The transport and education sectors saw 12 and 10 percent growth respectively. 

GUNS Young man with firearm escorted from university

Police have announced that, on Saturday, they escorted a young man with seven legally owned guns was escorted by police from a university open day in Brno. The man was apparently acting “distracted and restless” during a speech at Masaryk University’s Faculty of Education, prompting faculty management to call the police.

This comes after increased vigilance at universities following a shooting tragedy in Prague. The man's psychological condition is being evaluated, and his gun license may be revoked. He cooperated with the police and did not pose a threat. When asked by the officers, the young man immediately admitted that he was carrying a legally possessed short firearm.

INCIDENT Two dead, one missing after fall from Sněžka

Three individuals this afternoon fell on the northern slope of Sněžka mountain on the Czech-Polish border, with two confirmed dead and one missing, according to local Polish authorities. Search operations for the missing person are ongoing. Both the deceased were Polish.

Rescue teams from Poland and Czechia, including air ambulance services, are dealing with the incident. The Krkonoše Mountain Rescue Service has previously cautioned about hazardous hiking conditions due to icy slopes and high winds at present. Rescuers are trying to rule out the possibility that someone else has fallen down from the slope.

STATE FINANCES Economy dipped by 0.6 percent in 2023

According to preliminary data from the Czech Statistical Office (CZSO), the country’s economy shrank by 0.4 percent in 2023. This was largely due to low household consumption, while demand from abroad had a positive impact. 

However, there was a slight increase in GDP in the last quarter, with growth driven by foreign demand and household consumption. The CZSO’s estimate is more optimistic than that of the Ministry of Finance, which estimated a 0.6 percent decline. The CZSO estimate is in line with that of the Czech National Bank. Growth for 2024 is predicted at around 1.4 percent.

SOCIETY Survey: Czechs see some improvements in corruption

According to a survey by the Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences, there has been a perceived improvement in corruption in the Czech Republic, but certain areas have seen an increase in corrupt activities.

In planning and construction procedures, the public believes that bribery during the negotiation of changes to the zoning plan is relatively common. In education, attempts to influence a child's admission to school, or improve his/her grades, also occur sometimes according to respondents. Additionally, in healthcare, citizens say illegal payments by patients for certain procedures are more widespread than they were a decade ago.

CYBERSECURITY Cyber fraud victims rise by 300 percent

The Czech Banking Association (CBA) reported that 69,685 clients were attacked by cyber fraudsters in the Czech Republic last year, triple the number from the previous year. The country's total increase in cyber fraud was 5.5 percent, the lowest since 2017. The average damage per client was CZK 19,357, with a decrease in the second half of the year due to improved bank control processes.

Monika Zahálková, executive director of the CBA, credits modern technologies for quickly identifying and stopping suspicious transactions. The Czech police added that e-scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and difficult to recognize, leading to a reported 19,592 cases of cyber fraud in 2023.

politics Pavel urges Europe to prepare for Trump presidency

President Petr Pavel urged Europe to prepare for the possibility of Donald Trump's re-election, emphasizing the need for strategic planning, especially regarding aid to Ukraine amid tensions with Russia. Pavel acknowledged Trump's differing perspectives and warned of potential consequences for Europe.

He highlighted Ukraine's limitations in the current conflict and stressed the importance of defensive and disruptive capabilities. Pavel expressed support for EU enlargement, emphasizing cooperation with countries like Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and the Western Balkans. He noted increasing global tensions in the evolving multipolar landscape, emphasizing the need for collaborative efforts in economic and security domains.

Tragedy Month for Faculty ends today with concert

The Month for the Faculty event concludes today with a concert by the Czech Philharmonic at Rudolfinum, aimed at helping the community cope with the tragic shooting at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in December. The concert, featuring Mahler's Third Symphony under the direction of Semjon Byčkov, is attended by those supporting the affected community.

Following the performance, a farewell bonfire will be held at Jan Palach Square, where a memorial fire has burned throughout January. Attendees can write messages on sticks to be placed in the fire. The event marks the culmination of a month-long series helping the faculty recover.

Crime Liberec restaurant fire possibly arson

A fire erupted at the Černý panter bar in central Liberec, injuring 15 people, seven seriously, according to rescue service spokesman Michael Georgiev. Firefighters swiftly contained the blaze, declaring it extinguished before 11:30 p.m. on Monday. Police are investigating the incident without providing additional details.

Thirty individuals were evacuated, with 14 injured, seven severely. Liberec's regional hospital activated a trauma plan, admitting four patients in serious condition with burns and smoke inhalation. The police suggested the fire was sparked by a visitor after a conflict with staff, though details remain under investigation.

society A fifth of Czech drivers exceed speed limits

A nationwide police check on approximately 5,000 vehicles in the Czech Republic last Friday revealed that over one-fifth of drivers exceeded speed limits. Police officers imposed fines totaling almost CZK 1.9 million on the spot, with 1,047 cases resolved immediately. Additionally, ten drivers had their licenses immediately suspended for extreme speeding violations.

The spokeswoman emphasized that speeding is a common cause of severe traffic accidents. The police plan to continue such operations, reinforcing their commitment to enforcing road safety measures.

Science Czech paleontologists unearth rare feline find

Paleontologists at the National Museum in Prague have unearthed the oldest evidence of feline animals in Europe, dating back 33 to 34 million years. The discovery, a left lower jaw, was made near Valeč in the Karlovy Vary region during a 2017 geological survey. After years of research, the unknown species was named Fejfarictis valecensis, honoring Czech paleontologist Oldřich Fejfar.

The find, part of a group that includes modern felines, civets, and hyenas, sheds light on the early migration of felids to Europe after global cooling. The specimen will be exhibited at the National Museum's natural history exhibition from June.

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