Czech news in brief for November 18: Saturday's top headlines

Thousands honor anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Prague, Czech fundraiser collects millions for Black Hawk helicopter for Ukraine, and more. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 18.11.2023 08:44:00 (updated on 18.11.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

Politics Russia summons Czech diplomat over sanctions

Moscow has summoned a representative of the Czech ambassador to express displeasure over the addition of a Russian real estate company to the Czech sanctions list. The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the meeting but offered no additional details.

The decision to include the Russian company Goszagransobstvennost in the sanctions list and freeze its Czech assets was made by the Czech government on November 15, prompting Moscow to denounce it. The Russian Foreign Ministry warned of possible retaliatory measures against Czech assets in Russia, despite the Czech Foreign Minister asserting compliance with the Sanctions Act.

Crime Prague senior citizen mugged after withdrawing life savings

A 78-year-old man was violently robbed of nearly 700,000 crowns, his life savings, shortly after withdrawing the money from a Prague bank in mid-August. The suspects, caught on camera, dragged the victim to the ground, causing injuries. Police have released footage of the perpetrators, urging the public's assistance in identifying them.


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The criminals, who face up to ten years in prison if convicted, were tracked through the bank's camera system and public transport. The elderly man, injured during the robbery, received medical attention from emergency services at the scene.

Protest Prague police arrest man for throwing egg at '89 memorial

While celebrations during the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Prague remained subdued, local police arrested a man for throwing an egg at the 1989 memorial on Národní trída. A Czech court previously found a man guilty of disturbing civil coexistence for throwing an egg at then-President Miloš Zeman in 2015.

Prague police also aided a collapsed individual on Wenceslas Square. Supporters of Palestine gathered peacefully, holding signs, while a climate change demonstration caused no issues. Overall, the November 17 events proceeded without major incidents, supervised by police and an anti-conflict team.

Weather Icy conditions expected for most of Czechia on Sunday

Later tonight and into Sunday, icy conditions may appear in the Czech Republic, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute. Snowfall is initially expected late Saturday evening, transitioning into rain, with a risk of freezing on cool surfaces. Meteorologists warn of potential complications in transportation on Sunday, especially in the early morning and during the first half of the day.

Temperatures could drop to minus three degrees Celsius in some regions on Saturday night. Freezing precipitation is anticipated, particularly in higher elevations. The weather is expected to warm up to a maximum of 12 degrees Celsius on Sunday and Monday.

RIP Funeral Mass for Schwarzenberg to be held in Vienna

Former Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg's funeral mass is scheduled for December 16 at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, led by Archbishop Christoph Schönborn. High-profile politicians and diplomats are expected to attend. The official funeral with state honors will take place on December 9 at Prague Castle's St. Vitus Cathedral, led by Archbishop Jan Graubner, with a sermon by priest Tomáš Halík.

Schwarzenberg, from one of Europe's oldest noble families, passed away on November 12 in Vienna at the age of 85. His casket will be publicly displayed at the Church of the Maltese Knights of Our Lady under the Chain in Prague from December 6 to 8 before being interred in the family tomb.

Accident Five injured in Ostrava after driver runs red light

Five people were injured in a two-car collision in Ostrava on Friday evening when a driver ran a red light at a busy intersection near the Nová Ves waterworks. Emergency services attended to the injured, including a 34-year-old man and four women aged 34 to 41, who sustained injuries to the chest and lower limbs.

Traffic was briefly restricted at the intersection, with firefighters managing the aftermath, securing vehicles, and assisting injured individuals with spinal boards before transferring them to medical rescue crews. Both drivers tested negative for alcohol.

HOLIDAY Thousands celebrate Velvet Revolution anniversary in Prague

Over 80,000 people gathered in Prague's Wenceslas Square on Friday to commemorate the 34th anniversary of the peaceful overthrow of communism, the Velvet Revolution. Visitors braved cold weather to attend street festivals, light candles, and listen to speeches and music. The Prayer for Martha anthem was sung from the Metro Palace balcony at 5:11 p.m., as is tradition.

Concerts also drew large crowds in Wenceslas Square, featuring performances celebrating the interrelationship between nature, humanity, and technology. Speakers called on the youth to protect democracy from threats like those recently seen in Hungary and Slovakia. The celebrations underscored the importance of remembering the "Velvet" non-violent revolution that replaced the totalitarian regime with democracy.

AID Czech campaign collects millions for Black Hawk helicopter for Ukraine

In just one day, over CZK 3.2 million have been donated towards the CZK 105 million goal to purchase a used American UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter for Ukraine's defense forces. Named Cestmir by organizers of the Gifts for Putin crowdfunding initiative, the 1980s-era aircraft landed in Prague's Letná park Friday afternoon. Funds will go towards the inspection and delivery of the helicopter to Ukraine's military intelligence unit for special operations and pilot training support.

Previous initiatives through Gifts for Putin have transferred tanks and missiles worth tens of millions to Ukrainian armed forces battling Russia's invasion. Organizers aim not only to provide specific weapons platforms but also warn of the urgent need for Ukraine to develop a modern air force in the face of continued aggression. Donations can be made online. The collection for "Cestmir" exceeded three-quarters of its target mark in just one day.

Honors Fifth Václav Havel memorial bench unveiled in Prague

A new memorial bench was dedicated today near Nove Butovice metro station to honor the late former Czech president Václav Havel on the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. The installation, located along Bucharova Street, is the fifth such tribute unveiled in the Czech capital according to Petr Mader of the Václav Havel Library Foundation. It continues a memorial initiative begun in 2013 with benches in Georgetown, Dublin, and Barcelona among the first worldwide.

Other Prague sites include Suchdol, Horní Počernice, Hollar Embankment and Maltezské náměstí Square. Crafted with two chairs around a central tree representing growth, the place of contemplation aims to encourage democratic discourse in Havel's spirit. Similar commemorations at home and abroad will keep the legacy of the renowned playwright and advocate for human rights top of mind.

ECONOMY Czech inflation remains second highest in EU

Eurostat reports inflation fell to 3.6 percent in the European Union during October, with core inflation slowing to 2.9 percent in the 19-country euro area, matching the preliminary estimate. The Czech Republic saw inflation reach 9.5 percent, the second highest in the EU after Hungary's 9.6 percent. Slovakia had the highest rate among euro nations at 7.8 percent.

Compared to September, prices rose in five countries but fell in 22. Food, energy, and services contributed most to rising costs. Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark had the lowest inflation ranging from -1.7 percent to -0.4 percent. A year ago, inflation in the EU and eurozone was over 10 percent, with Hungary and the Czech Republic exceeding 15 percent. Most countries saw slowing prices in October but inflation remains above the ECB's 2 percent target, not expected to be met until late 2025.

Environment Protesters demand fair probe of 2020 Becva River poisoning

Hundreds gathered today in the town square of Valašské Meziříčí Friday to call for a fair investigation into the September 2020 Becva River poisoning. An October court ruling found the Energoaqua company responsible but issued no penalty, acquitting its head. Critics say the decision passes the blame to the Environment Inspectorate, which initially failed to provide evidence. Three years later, frustration mounts over perceived dysfunction in getting to the bottom of the environmental disaster.

Minister Petr Hladík affirmed respecting court independence while pledging influence to prevent recurrences and ensure culpability. Experts have said that the verdict contradicts science, fueling public distrust. Nearly 40 tons of fish perished along a 40 km stretch of the Becva. As one democracy, citizens will continue demanding truth and accountability for the ecological tragedy.

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