Czech news in brief for May 15: Wednesday's top headlines

French actor Depardieu hiding out in Prague, Latvia joins Czech ammo initiative, and Czechia to bolster child psychiatric care. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 15.05.2024 08:59:00 (updated on 15.05.2024) Reading time: 3 minutes

ANIMALS Polar bears from Poland arrive at Prague Zoo

Director of Prague Zoo Miroslav Bobek announced on the X social network that polar bears Aleut and Gregor from the Warsaw Zoo arrived at the Prague Zoo on Tuesday evening. The twin bears, born in Germany in December 2010, will be visible to the public starting Monday, May 20. Currently, the bears are acclimating to their new enclosure, which differs from their previous one in Poland. Last September, Prague Zoo had to euthanize a female polar bear due to an incurable cancer.

RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR Pavel: Peace deal requires consent from Ukraine

President Petr Pavel said today that military support for Ukraine does not preclude seeking a peaceful resolution to the war, but that this requires Ukraine's consent. He emphasized in an interview with British media outlet Sky News he necessity of stopping the war first before negotiating a future settlement. Chamber of Deputies defense committee head Lubomír Metnar interpreted this as acknowledging potential territorial compromises by Ukraine. Pavel stressed a realistic view, noting that Ukraine's reconquest of occupied territories is unlikely in the near future.

DIPLOMACY Around 800 people to set up Prague NATO meeting

The Czech Foreign Ministry announced that an 800-member so-called implementation team, including representatives from the Interior, Defense, and Foreign Ministries, will organize the informal NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Prague at the end of May. This event, marking the 25th anniversary of Czech NATO membership and NATO's 75th anniversary, has a budget of CZK 100 million. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to attend, with 32 delegations and 230 participants anticipated.

military Czech Air Force to get CZK 18bn extra funding

The Czech Defense Ministry announced this afternoon that an additional CZK 18.75 billion will be spent on the Czech Air Force by 2028, increasing the budget to CZK 54.87 billion. This funding will support acquiring two Embraer C-390 Millennium transport aircraft and evaluating H-1 helicopters donated by the U.S. The program's timeline has been extended to Dec. 31, 2028, to accommodate these projects. The ministry highlighted these long-planned projects as crucial for defense enhancements.

Scandal French actor Depardieu hiding out in Prague

French actor Gérard Depardieu, 75, recently testified in Paris over sexual assault allegations from two women and spent half a day in custody, has been spotted in Prague. Now free, Depardieu has been seen with Czech actress Sara Sandeva, 26. According to the Czech celebrity site Express, Depardieu visited a restaurant owned by Sandeva’s father and reportedly stayed at her father’s apartment. Depardieu continues to deny the allegations from 2014 and 2021.

AID Latvia joins Czech ammo initiative

Prime Minister Evika Silina and Defence Minister Andris Spruds announced that Latvia will contribute EUR 10 million to the Czech initiative to procure artillery ammunition for Ukraine. Latvia will also supply drones to Kyiv. Ukraine, facing an ammunition shortage amid Russian aggression, could receive its first supplies from this initiative in June. The Czech Republic has secured 500,000 pieces of ammunition so far.

Health Czechia to bolster child psychiatric care

The Czech Health Ministry will soon receive a proposal to enhance child psychiatric care, adding up to 150 new beds and increasing training for psychiatrists and psychologists. Minister Vlastimil Válek emphasized the need for more juvenile beds to improve overloaded outpatient care. The reform aims to expand mental health centers and modernize psychiatric hospitals. The country has 431 child psychiatry beds and three dedicated children’s psychiatric hospitals.

Society Majority of Czechs plan digital detox on holiday

A survey by travel agency Invia reveals that 69 percent of Czechs plan a partial digital detox during summer vacation, while 31 percent won’t limit Internet use. Conducted by Ipsos among 1,000 respondents, the survey shows rising interest in summer holidays, particularly in Turkey, Greece, and Egypt. Most travelers prefer eight-day trips, flying to four-star hotels. The average cost for a week in Greece is CZK 18,980.

Culture Czech culture ministry to raise TV fees

The Czech Culture Ministry has proposed raising the TV license fee by CZK 15 to CZK 150 per month and the radio fee by CZK 10 to CZK 55. The new fees, effective Jan. 1, 2025, aim to support public broadcasters Czech Television and Czech Radio. The ministry also suggests increasing fees by decree if inflation exceeds 6 percent since the last change.

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