Czech news in brief for January 4: Thursday's top headlines

Prague police prevent self immolation at Russian embassy, a snowy weekend forecast for Czechia, and rape trial of prominent Czech doctor begins today.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 04.01.2024 09:00:00 (updated on 04.01.2024) Reading time: 6 minutes

December shooting Students, public honor Prague shooting victims with procession

A memorial procession at Prague's Charles University Faculty of Arts this afternoon honored the 14 victims of the capital’s December shooting. Named the ‘Transmission of Light,’ it marked the start of a series of activities this month to honor those killed during the shooting, aiming to revive academic life at Jan Palach Square. 

Led by rector Milena Králíčková and faculty dean Eva Lehečková, students carried a lantern to the faculty building. A human chain then encircled the site of the incident, demonstrating unity. A ceremonial fire beside the faculty will burn throughout the month, while bells tolled for 14 minutes citywide, commemorating each victim. Králíčková and Lehečková urged unity, mutual support, and a gradual return to academic pursuits, emphasizing resilience within the academic community.

sport Czech national football team gets new head coach

The Czech Football Association (FAČR) has this afternoon appointed ex-footballer Ivan Hašek as the new head coach of the Czech national football team. FAČR president Petr Fousek expressed satisfaction with the committee's support for the new coach and emphasized the goal of success in various tournaments beyond the 2024 European Championships – such as the Nations League and qualifying stages for the 2026 World Cup.

Hašek, a 60-year-old with extensive coaching experience in the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon, previously managed the Czech national team in 2009. He notably played 55 matches for the Czech national team and scored five goals.

Covid-19 Health Ministry: 20m vaccines unused since 2020

According to a report issued today by the Health Ministry, Czechia has purchased over 39 million Covid-19 vaccine doses since the start of the pandemic, but only 19 million have been used. This has resulted in CZK 6.2 billion worth of vaccines being discarded or donated to other nations. This year, 700,000 doses worth CZK 380 million are set to be delivered to the country. 

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The Ministry of Health reports that 370,000 people were vaccinated last year, with just 1,700 being newly vaccinated. Most doses were from Pfizer, followed by Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Novavax, and Sanofi.

prague US site ranks Prague as 'world's most beautiful Xmas destination'

Online site U.S. News has named Prague the most beautiful Christmas destination in the world for the second year in a row. It has surpassed popular destinations such as Vienna, Rome, and Aspen. The ranking is based on 10 categories and voters were most impressed by the festive atmosphere and historic charm of the city. 

Prague’s councilor for infrastructure expressed joy at this recognition and credited the success to the efforts of the city and organizers of the markets. In the past, Prague has received numerous international awards for its Christmas celebrations. The USA Today newspaper named the Czech capital as the best Christmas destination, while CNN Travel has recognized the Christmas markets on the Old Town Square as among the most beautiful in the world.

energy Electricity production in Czechia falls to lowest level since 2002

According to analysis by consulting company EGÚ Brno, electricity production in the Czech Republic fell by 10 percent year on year in 2023, with a total of 72 terawatt-hours (TWh) generated by domestic power plants. This is the lowest production since 2002, attributed to decreased economic activity in the energy industry. 

Across the EU, electricity production fell by 66 TWh, driven by stagnant economies and not technical savings measures. Despite expected increases in electricity usage for heating, transportation, and industry, consumption remains low, leading to a decline in coal-based electricity production.

prague shooting Charles University Arts Faculty to start semester as normal

The Faculty of Arts at Charles University will start the summer semester on Feb. 19 as planned, with all classes taking place in all buildings, including the main building on Jan Palach Square. However, the fourth floor of the building will likely remain closed throughout the entire semester.

Faculty dean Eva Lehečková, informed journalists that the faculty will be closed until at least the end of January due to the building's technical issues. The recent shooting tragedy caused destruction to over 130 doors, contributing to the extended closure.

ECONOMY Budget deficit in 2023 slightly narrower than expected

The state economy in the Czech Republic concluded last year with a deficit of CZK 288.5 billion, slightly better than the projected CZK 295 billion. Despite being the fourth-deepest deficit in the country's history, it marks a positive past of improving the country’s public finances amid the pandemic. The year before last, the state budget ended with a deficit of CZK 360.4 billion. In 2021, the deficit was a record CZK 419.7 billion, and in 2020 it was CZK 367.4 billion.

Finance Minister Zbyněk Stanjura praised the budget, highlighting a record increase in investments despite extraordinary expenses. Total revenues stood at CZK 1.9 trillion, up 17.8 percent, while expenditures reached CZK 2.2 trillion, 11 percent higher than 2022. 

Protest Police prevent self-immolation attempt in Prague

Police intervened at the Russian Embassy when a foreigner reportedly poured a flammable substance on himself and wielded a lighter. Negotiators successfully resolved the situation after an hour.

The man, refusing communication at first, voluntarily ceased his actions around 6:30 p.m. Following a security check, authorities handed him over to paramedics, concluding the intervention at 7:30 p.m. The incident unfolded at 5:20 p.m. when police responded to the situation.

weather Winter and snow to return to Czechia this weekend

Winter is set to return to the Czech Republic with temperatures near zero, freezing even during the day on Sunday, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute's forecast. Saturday anticipates cloudy conditions with rain and snow at higher elevations. Night temperatures range from +3 to -1 °C, while daytime temperatures reach 1 to 5 °C.

Sunday's forecast predicts widespread snowfall, particularly in the northeast. Night temperatures range from 0 to -4 °C, with daytime highs of -3 to +1 °C. A moderate north to northeast wind is expected, with the formation of ice, frost, and snow in some areas.

Justice Czech psychiatrist to face trial for rape today

Prominent Czech psychiatrist Jan Cimický is set to face trial at the District Court in Prague 8 on charges of four counts of rape and 35 cases of extortion. The 75-year-old doctor and writer, accused by multiple patients over two years ago, maintains his innocence, condemning police actions and expressing his intent to prove his non-involvement.

Due to anticipated media interest, the court will initially allow public attendance but may restrict it later. The case gained attention in 2021 when actress Jana Fabiánová accused Cimický of sexual assault on social media, prompting additional women to speak out. The trial, delayed due to the chairman's illness, follows a police investigation and a returned case for further scrutiny in 2022.

weather Fifty-five sites in Czechia reported flood activity

Following heavy rains and snowmelt, 55 sites in Czechia reported flood activity. Ten stations, including the Elbe (Labe) at various locations, issued second-degree flood alerts, while the Vltava in Cesky Krumlov reached the third-degree on Wednesday, with prolonged elevated water levels due to increased releases from the Lipno reservoir.

Emergency measures are in place in critical areas, deploying 1,000 sandbags. The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute issued widespread river and stream flooding warnings, with heavy precipitation expected in several regions and strong winds in the southwest.

sports Czech NHL goalkeeper sets club record for saves

Anaheim's Czech goalkeeper, Lukáš Dostál, set a club record with 55 saves but couldn't prevent a 1-2 overtime loss to Toronto in the NHL. Despite Dostál's outstanding performance and his first NHL clean sheet, Toronto's John Tavares secured the win in overtime.

Anaheim's coach praised Dostál's elite skills, acknowledging his agility and speed. Dostál, surpassing the club record with 55 saves, remained focused on his job. Meanwhile, New Jersey won 6-3 in Washington, with three two-goal scorers leading the victory. Ondřej Palát missed the game due to a lower-body injury, and Radko Gudas was absent due to illness.

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