Czech news in brief for March 1: Friday's top headlines

Czech tennis boss held over subsidy fraud charges, Czech ambassador to attend Navalny funeral, and hundreds of Czechs die of alcohol poisoning yearly.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 01.03.2024 08:17:00 (updated on 01.03.2024) Reading time: 4 minutes

DIPLOMACY Macron to visit Prague next week

French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Prague on Tuesday and meet with President Petr Pavel and Prime Minister Petr Fiala, the Czech Government Office confirmed today. The senior ministers will discuss topics such as nuclear energy, defense, and support for Ukraine. Macron and Fiala will also sign an action plan for strategic cooperation, energy, and transport for 2024 to 2028. Earlier this week, Fiala was in Paris for talks on aid to Ukraine.

ECONOMY State budget deficit rises to over CZK 100bn

The Ministry of Finance reported that the February state budget deficit rose to CZK 102.5 billion, from CZK 26 billion in January. Finance Minister Zbyněk Stanjura attributes this to the end of energy price compensation and the effects of the government’s consolidation package. Revenues for the first two months increased by 10.7 percent compared to last year, while expenditure increased by 2.5 percent. This is the second-deepest February deficit since records began, with only 2023 surpassing this year’s level.

ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR Pavel tells Israel to avoid excess casualties

Czech President Petr Pavel urged Israel to take necessary measures to avoid civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip after an incident where dozens of civilians were killed while waiting for humanitarian aid. During a press conference in Luxembourg, Pavel stated that he believes the matter will be thoroughly investigated. According to Hamas, over 100 people were killed in an Israeli strike, while the Israeli army claimed that the violence broke out when the crowd approached them and resulted in 10 casualties.

PENSIONS Czech ministry finalizes pension law change

The Czech Labour and Social Affairs Ministry has finalized a bill to reform pensions, which includes a rise in retirement age based on life expectancy, a minimum pension of 20 percent of the average wage, and earlier retirement for demanding professions. This could affect about 120,000 workers, who may be able to retire up to five years early depending on their job's physical demands. Employers would also have to pay these workers 5 percent higher social security contributions.

animals Pelicans return to Prague Zoo

After 30 years, four white pelicans have returned to the Brno Zoo in the Czech Republic. The birds were transferred from Zoo Hluboká, which was damaged by heavy snow in December. This temporary arrangement will help the zoo, as they plan to eventually breed the endangered curly pelicans. The pelicans were smoothly loaded onto transport boxes, with the help of experienced colleagues from Hluboká Zoo. They were even sent off with their favorite food, 12 crates of frozen South Bohemian freshwater fish.

WEATHER February was warmest in over 60 years

According to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, February 2024 was the warmest February since 1961 in the Czech Republic, with an average temperature of 5.7 degrees Celsius. Last month was significantly warmer (by 2 degrees Celsius) than the warmest February so far recorded between 1966 and 2020. The month also saw above-average precipitation, leading to an early start to the pollen season and vegetation.

Crime Czech tennis boss held over subsidy fraud charges

Czech Tennis Association (CTS) president Ivo Kaderka is remanded in custody amid subsidy fraud charges. Police accuse him and others of misusing state sports subsidies, estimating damages at around CZK 14.5 million. The court also remanded Kaderka's close aide, Vojtech Flegl. Both deny the charges. If convicted, Kaderka faces up to ten years in prison.

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Int'l Czech ambassador to attend Navalny funeral

Czech embassy head in Moscow, Jiří Čistecký, will attend the funeral of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny on Friday. Navalny died in prison two weeks ago, and the funeral is scheduled in Moscow, followed by burial at Borisov Cemetery. Navalny's sudden death raised concerns; authorities delayed releasing his body, and Navalny's associates alleged an attempt to secure a secret burial. Navalny, a vocal critic of Putin's regime, had been imprisoned since 2021.

society Hundreds of Czechs die of alcohol poisoning yearly

Hundreds in Czechia succumb to alcohol intoxication annually, with 504 deaths reported in 2022, making the country one of the worst globally in alcohol consumption, according to the Government Council for Addiction Policy. Despite a slight decline in male alcohol consumption, women’s daily intake increased post-Covid-19. Alcohol-related social costs far exceed excise tax collections, said national drug coordinator Jindřich Vobořil.

Education Czech school food to undergo healthy update

In June, the State Institute of Health plans to conclude a proposal for school menu changes, emphasizing the reduction of processed foods and increased inclusion of whole grains. The Association of Schools anticipates a smooth transition, while some parents and students express concerns about the quality of the current meals.

Diplomacy Pavel talks defense-related IT in Luxembourg

During his visit to Luxembourg, Czech President Petr Pavel discussed cooperation in advanced sectors like cybersecurity, space research, and healthcare. He emphasized the Czech Republic's historical, EU, and NATO ties with Luxembourg. Pavel is accompanied by a business delegation focusing on defense-related IT fields. Luxembourg, planning to increase its defense spending up to 2 percent of GDP, contributes significantly to joint defense capabilities.

Memorial Monument to Roma children killed by Nazis unveiled

Liberec has unveiled a granite monument dedicated to 11 Roma children who lived and died in Nazi camps during WWII. The memorial, located on Kunraticka Street, honors those born in a Liberec camp and later murdered in Auschwitz. With a cost of about CZK, it features a six-tonne Liberec granite stone with embedded bronze plaques displaying the children's names.

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