Czech news in brief for November 29: Wednesday's top headlines

Polish drugstore chain heading to Czech market, heavy snowfall leads to traffic collisions and a fatality, and police accuse six in cult murder. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 29.11.2023 08:03:00 (updated on 29.11.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

economy Ombudsman highlights financial issues of Ukrainian refugees

According to Ombudsman Stanislav Křeček, many Ukrainians fleeing the war in Czechia are unable to afford housing and resort to working illegally or returning to Ukraine. The ombudsman has raised the issue with lawmakers, highlighting that the financial support provided is insufficient. In the past month, two dozen people have contacted the Ombudsman Office seeking help with housing costs.

The approved amendment to Lex Ukraine allows the government to increase housing costs for vulnerable individuals, potentially facilitating access to decent housing. Křeček also emphasized that Czechia stands to lose the investments made in integrating these newcomers if they decide to leave the country.

weather Temperatures below freezing across Czechia today

Temperatures in the Czech Republic remained below zero degrees Celsius today, making it an icy day. This is considered an average occurrence for Nov. 28 based on statistical data from the last 60 years. However, due to climate change, the first ice day is now occurring later in the year, and the number of ice days is decreasing.

Climatologist Pavel Zahradníček highlighted that the last all-day frost now typically occurs on Feb. 20 instead of March 1. Although severe winters are still possible, the long-term trend points towards warmer winters with less snow.

society Senate approves increase in parental allowance

The Senate has approved an amendment to increase the parental allowance in the Czech Republic. From January 2024, the allowance will rise to CZK 350,000, with an increase of CZK 50,000. However, the increase will only apply to parents of children born from the beginning of next year. The payment period will be shortened from four years to three years.

The amendment also includes simplifying communication with labor offices. The government proposed increasing the contribution by 16.5 percent, based on half the inflation recorded since January 2020. The approved proposal also states that parents of twins or multiples will receive a total of CZK 525,000 from January.

economy Black Friday sales in Czechia exceeded CZK 7 billion

Czechs spent over CZK 7 billion during Black Friday sales on the internet, with the highest demand for electronics, toys, clothes, and cosmetics. The turnover of online stores in the Czech Republic has been declining throughout the year.

The average real discount this year was around 20 percent, with most online stores complying with new rules for presenting discounts. Black Friday sale is a tradition that came into being in the U.S., and while the official date was Nov. 24, some merchants started their campaigns earlier this year.

IT Czech deputies approve digital ID cards

Starting next year, Czech citizens will be able to use digital versions of their ID cards for proof of identity. The lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, approved the introduction of electronic copies, which will be voluntary and not replace physical cards.

The digital documents will require a mobile phone application developed by the Digital Information Agency. The government estimates the project will cost the state administration about half a billion crowns initially and have annual operating costs of CZK 50 million. The digital copies will have the same legal effect as physical ones.

accident Czech tourists injured in Sri Lanka bus accident

Two Czech tourists and a bus driver suffered minor injuries in a collision between a bus carrying Czech tourists and a train at a level crossing in Sri Lanka. The tourists were on their way to the airport for a return flight to the Czech Republic, according to local newspaper The Morning.

The Czech embassy in New Delhi, India, which oversees Sri Lanka, told ČTK that it had no information about the incident. The accident occurred at a dangerous level crossing in the town of Waskaduwa, causing significant damage to both the train and the bus.

Security Pavel says Russia, China pose threats to EU

Czech President Petr Pavel told the NATO Defence College in Rome that Russia poses the most immediate threat to Europe due to its aggression in Ukraine. He said the conflict has caused massive suffering and destruction. Pavel also warned of growing Chinese influence and its lack of respect for others.

The Czech president advocated supporting countries seeking NATO and EU membership to boost stability, and urged continued political and military backing for Ukraine amid Russian war crimes. He also called for balancing security cooperation with China while curbing dependence on Beijing.

weather Heavy snowfall leads to mass accidents on D1

Heavy snow fall throughout Czechia has led to numerous traffic incidents including a fatality on Tuesday evening. Police officers received almost 120 different reports, with more than half of them related to traffic accidents. The D1 highway experienced major complications, with 34 traffic accidents attended by the Vysočina region's police officers.

Tragically, a fatal accident occurred near Humpolec involving four trucks. A driver responding to the initial crash lost control, resulting in a fatality. The direction to Prague remained impassable earlier this morning, while caution was advised on the route to Brno. Officials are asking drivers to exercise caution on the roads today.

Crime Police accuse six in ritual death of sect member

Police have accused six people of involvement in forest rituals that led to the death of a cult member last August near Český Šternberk castle southeast of Prague. The victim was forced to stay naked in the woods for days and beaten by members. He later collapsed and was unconscious upon arrival at the leader's home.

Police say the six could face 2-16 years in prison for extortion and failure to provide aid. The sect leader died in October, allegedly murdered by two followers who say he wanted to die. Witnesses stated the leader physically and psychologically abused his followers, who devoted their personal and professional lives to him. Police are investigating both deaths.

Business Polish drugstore chain heading to Czechia

Hebe, the cosmetics and body care-focused drugstore giant, is set to open its first physical store in the Czech Republic, challenging rivals Teta, dm-drogerie markt, and Rossmann, while also targeting the position of Notino perfume stores. The chain, owned by the Portuguese retail group Jeronimo Martins, conducted market tests through its e-shop since 2021.

The expansion includes stores in Prague's Harfa and Westfield Černý Most, scheduled to commence operations in December. Despite strong competition in the Czech market, Hebe plans further expansion in 2024, with store sizes ranging from 300 to 500 square meters.

Diplomacy Czech, Ethiopian PMs discuss economic cooperation

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed met in Prague to discuss expanding bilateral cooperation. They agreed to form a joint economic commission to facilitate business deals in areas like mining, farming and engineering. Fiala said Czech firms could benefit from opportunities in Ethiopia.

The leaders also addressed development aid and security cooperation, with the Czech Republic supporting Ethiopia's stability. They envision closer defense ties, with Czech technicians upgrading Ethiopian planes. Abiy visited aircraft maker Aero Vodochody and tractor company Zetor to discuss contracts. Fiala stated his goal of helping companies enter new markets and create jobs.

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