Czech news in brief for November 17: Friday's top headlines

Czechia pays tribute to Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day, center of Brno sees pro-Palestine protest, and more top headlines for Nov. 17, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 17.11.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 17.11.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

PUBLIC HOLIDAY Czechia commemorates 1989 Velvet Revolution

Czechia today marks 34 years since the Velvet Revolution and 84 years since the Nazi-driven closure of universities. Commemorative events on the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day include a 12-hour street event on Národní, a literary tribute to Olga Havel, and a rendition of the famous Prayer for Marta song, which has become associated with the 1989 revolution. 

The evening includes the Memory of Nations Awards, organized by non-governmental organization Post Bellum, at Prague Castle. They mark people who devoted themselves to fighting Nazis and communists. The Concert for Future at Wenceslas Square will also feature performing artists and singers. Late Thursday afternoon, Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová paid tribute to the revolution, saying that events in 1989 “laid the foundations of democracy” for both Czechs and Slovaks.

Environment Student climate protesters to march through Prague

University students, organized by the Universities for Climate movement, completed the second day of a climate strike on Thursday, camping at faculties to draw attention to the worsening climate crisis and societal injustice. Approximately 100 stayed overnight at Charles University's three faculties, while others did the same in Brno and Olomouc.

Protesters demand a Czech climate law, citizens' assemblies, and a shift from GDP as an economic indicator. Strikes also occurred in Hradec Králové and Pardubice, targeting coal mining. The strike, involving 21 faculties from nine universities, symbolically concludes on Nov. 17 with marches through Prague and Brno. Universities for Climate, inspired by Greta Thunberg's Fridays for Future, initiated the strikes in 2019 and 2022.

DRIVING Drivers could pay to enter Prague next year

The City of Prague announced Friday that it may introduce an entrance fee for drivers entering Malá Strana and Smetanovo nábřeží by October next year. The proposed fee, likely to be set at CZK 200 per day, exempts local residents. 

The zone covers specific areas of Prague 1, rather than the whole of the area, as stressed by Prague Deputy Mayor Zdeněk Hřib. The central aim is to alleviate tram delays caused by heavy car traffic, especially at rush hour. The city aims to have the plan fully approved in March 2024. Technical preparations, like installing monitoring cameras, require approximately six months. 

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Sanctioning Russian assets in line with law

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský has defended Czechia’s ability to freeze Russian state assets following the government’s decision this week to add a firm that manages Russia’s property abroad to the national sanctions list. Lipavský asserted that the sanctioning was in line with both Czech and international law.  

The now-sanctioned Russian firm controls around 70 properties, located mainly in Prague, Central Bohemia, and Karlovy Vary. Russia released a statement Friday calling Czechia’s move “illegal” and saying that it was considering taking retaliatory action. Lipavský, however, assured that there was not much Russia could do due to the minimal amount of assets Czechia has in the country.

RALLY Around 100 attend pro-Palestine protest in Brno

About 100 demonstrators in the center of Brno attended a pro-Palestine rally on Friday evening, gathering near Janáček Theater before lighting candles at a statue. Police monitored the solidarity march, organized by the Stop the Siege – Brno and Brno For Palestine organizations. 

The participants criticized Western media bias favoring Israel and voiced support for Palestinian victims of recent clashes. Carrying Palestinian flags, banners, and chanting pro-Palestinian slogans, families, – including children – joined the event. Authorities reported no violence or aggravation during the protest.

education Czech universities to get extra CZK 800m in 2024

A working group comprising the Czech Ministry of Education, the Czech Conference of Rectors, and the Council of Universities has together agreed that Czech universities in 2024 will receive CZK 800 million from the state to help reduce staff wage differences. Minister of Education Mikuláš Bek confirmed that, in total, universities will receive an extra CZK 1 billion next year. 

Funding for education is also set to increase next year. According to the 2024 budget, the Ministry of Education should have CZK 269 billion for expenses next year – CZK 3.9 billion more than in 2023. Issues in Czech primary and secondary schools persist, though, with a planned mass staff walkout on Nov. 27.

FAKE NEWS New study: Czechia at serious risk of disinformation

According to research released Friday by the Interior Ministry's Center against Hybrid Threats, Czechia faces significant challenges countering potential large-scale disinformation due to shortcomings in strategy, organization, personnel, procedures, and legal frameworks. The study centered on the fact that Czechia lacks the necessary legislation to prevent and punish the spread of disinformation.

Previous disinformation waves, notably during the Covid-19 pandemic, underscore the urgent need for improved capacities and responses to safeguard against such attacks on state security. The center also found that one-quarter of Czechs believe in fake news.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more