Czech news in brief for June 21: Friday's top headlines

Prague bus arsonist had ties to Russia, Prague buys Wenceslas Square building for CZK 3.5bn, and second-round entrance exam results now online.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 21.06.2024 09:15:00 (updated on 21.06.2024) Reading time: 5 minutes

EUROPEAN AFFAIRS ANO to leave EP groups due to ideology

Czech opposition movement ANO announced today it will leave the liberal Renew Europe group in the European Parliament and the ALDE European party due to ANO’s inability to fulfill its program with both EP parties ideologically. According to ANO leader Andrej Babiš, the decision was made by the movement's board after winning seven MEP seats in the recent elections. Renew Europe group leader Valerie Hayer stated that ANO's departure was expected, as ANO’s “populist path was not in line with the group's values and identity.”

travel Study: Czech tourists will pay more euros abroad

Czech tourists can expect to pay up to 10 percent more in countries that use the euro this summer due to the weakening of the crown and inflation in select countries, according to financial services firm Purple Trading. This is particularly noticeable in Croatia and Spain, as well as in Italy, where there is a 6-percent increase. Purple Trading analyst Petr Lajsek explains that the exchange rate alone will make a vacation in the eurozone more expensive by 5 percent.

CRIME Croatian police question Czech over explosion

Today, the Czech Chamber of Deputies passed an amendment allowing postal voting for Czech citizens living abroad. This bill will be sent to the Senate for further debate before potentially being signed into law in time for the 2025 general election. The ruling coalition voted in favor of the amendment, while the opposition ANO and Freedom and Direct Democracy parties voted against it. The debate on this issue lasted approximately 96 hours. Among the frequent arguments used by its opponents were fears of a loss of public confidence due to possible rigging.

politics Czech lower house passes postal vote bill

Today, the Czech Chamber of Deputies passed an amendment allowing postal voting for Czech citizens living abroad. This bill will be sent to the Senate for further debate before potentially being signed into law in time for the 2025 general election. The ruling coalition voted in favor of the amendment, while the opposition ANO and Freedom and Direct Democracy parties voted against it. The debate on this issue lasted approximately 96 hours. Among the frequent arguments used by its opponents were fears of a loss of public confidence due to possible rigging.

Human rights Czech state must pay sexual assault victim

The European Court of Human Rights ordered the Czech Republic to pay EUR 25,000 in compensation plus EUR 1,000 for legal costs to a woman who was sexually assaulted and raped by a priest who was also her teacher at a theology faculty. The Court found Czech authorities violated human rights conventions by not adequately investigating the case, citing the victim’s vulnerable position and failure to resist physically. The ruling mandates payment within three months. Czech law didn’t consider the priest’s actions criminal due to lack of physical resistance, a stance the Court rebuked.

Arson Prague bus arsonist had ties to Russia

More details about the players involved in an arson attack on a Prague bus depot have emerged following a closed meeting of the members of the security committee of the Chamber of Deputies. The 26-year-old Colombian, who attempted an arson attack in Prague, was directed by a Russian contact linked to Russian secret services, Deník N reports.

Before arriving in Prague, the suspect lived in Poland, where he was paid to photograph objects. He believed the failed arson attack on Prague buses was intended to be an insurance fraud. He was arrested on June 8, and his phone revealed communication with his Russian handler via Telegram.

Real estate City buys Wenceslas Square building for CZK 3.5bn

Prague will buy the VN 42 company, owning an office building on Wenceslas Square, from Komerční banka for about CZK 3.5 billion. The city council approved the purchase, planning to move officials from the leased Škoda Palace by March 2028. Komerční banka will remain a tenant until 2026. The building, requiring minimal modifications, offers more capacity and is centrally located. The transaction will be finalized by July 1.

Education Second-round entrance exam results now online

The second round of secondary school entrance exam results are now available on the DiPSy system website. Almost 94 percent of ninth-grade applicants succeeded in the first round, with three-quarters getting into their preferred school. Over 99,000 students applied this year, but 6,000 did not secure a spot.

For the second round, 12,540 applicants applied for nearly 26,000 places. Unsuccessful applicants can find courses for the third round on DiPSy, which allows them to search by region, district, and study field. The DiPSy system aims to simplify the admissions process and reduce previous years' chaos.

Economy EC advises Czechia to limit net spending

The European Commission has advised the Czech government to limit net spending growth next year to keep the public finance deficit below 3 percent of GDP. It projects faster-than-expected economic growth of 1.4 percent in 2024 and 2.6 percent in 2025, with inflation at 2.7 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively. The Commission also recommends pension system reforms, improved women’s employment conditions, and tax increases on real estate to ensure fiscal sustainability.

Abroad Slovakia passes divisive broadcasting law

The Slovak parliament has passed a law rebranding public broadcaster Slovak Television and Radio (STVR) which will now operate as Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS), allowing early termination of its director general. The opposition claims the ruling gives Prime Minister Robert Fico’s cabinet control of the station.

Employees have continued to protest against the changes, saying RTVS has gradually begun to lose elements of objectivity and given up balanced reporting. If the new Slovak President Peter Pellegrini, formerly of the ruling party, signs the law, it will enter into force at the beginning of July. The law also increases salaries for the new board and director.

Health Interior Ministry data-collection fine upheld

The Prague Metropolitan Court upheld a CZK 975,000 fine for the Interior Ministry, imposed by the Office for Personal Data Protection (UOOU), for exceeding its authority by collecting people's health data in Covid-19 isolation. The police claimed the data was needed to monitor anti-Covid measures, but the UOOU argued it was collected on a general, preventive basis, violating the law on police powers.

Culture Kosheen celebrates 25 years at Prague concert

The British band Kosheen celebrated 25 years with a performance at the Metronome Prague festival. The trio, led by singer Sian Evans, played hits like "Hungry" and "Wasting My Time," thrilling a packed audience. The festival, which opened on November 2nd, featured various artists, including Czech singer Lenny and Michael Kiwanuka.

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