Czech news in brief for November 3: Friday's top headlines

Halloween costume at pro-Palestinian protest in Prague being investigated, Czech National Bank downgrades economy, and more top headlines for Nov. 3, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 03.11.2023 08:57:00 (updated on 03.11.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

society Pilsen prosecutor cancels investigation of kebab shop owner

The prosecution of a foreigner accused of displaying an anti-Jewish poster in his kebab shop in Pilsen has been canceled. The prosecutor stated that the man's actions did not constitute a crime under the Criminal Code. The poster, which contained inscriptions criticizing world powers, was displayed for several days before it was confiscated by the police.

The shopkeeper, who expressed his negative opinion of Israel, was charged solely for posting his views in the shop. No other expressions of his views were subject to criminal proceedings.

legal Lawmakers pass bill simplifying employment for foreigners

The Czech lower house of Parliament has passed an amendment to the law on employment to simplify the entry of foreign workers into the labor market. The amendment includes stricter rules for employment agencies and redefines illegal employment.

The amendment also clarifies regulations for employment agencies and may eliminate the need for work permits or cards for foreigners working in the country. The amendment still needs approval from the upper house and the president before taking effect.

archeology Czech Egyptologists discover richly decorated tomb in Egypt

Czech Egyptologists discovered a richly decorated tomb in Abusir, shedding light on the history of ancient Egypt, the Faculty of Arts of Charles University, where the Czech Institute of Egyptology is based, announced today.

The tomb belonged to Djehutiemhat, a royal scribe who died young and suffered from osteoporosis. Although the tomb was empty, hieroglyphic inscriptions and depictions of gods provided valuable insights. The discovery of pottery and a Chios amphora shard also revealed ancient burial practices. Czech Egyptologists have a history of significant discoveries in the region.

weather Meteorologists issue heavy rain and flood warnings

Heavy rainfall and snow are expected in mountainous areas of the Czech Republic today and Saturday, which may slightly raise river levels. The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has issued a warning for the regions of Dobruška, Rychnov nad Kněžnou, Králíky, Žamberk, Jesenicko, Šumpersko, Bruntál, Krnov, Rýmařov, Lanškroun, Moravská Třebová, Mohelnice, and Zábřeh.

The warning for heavy rain is valid until 3 a.m. Saturday, while the flood alert is valid until Saturday at 10 a.m. Daily temperatures this weekend are not expected to exceed 10 degrees Celsius in the country.

international Fiala's visit to African countries aims to strengthen cooperation

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said that his visit to sub-Saharan Africa is meant to strengthen economic cooperation and promote Czech companies. He added that Europe has neglected relations with Africa, allowing Russia and China to take advantage. Fiala also said he saw the African continent as key to solving the migration issue.

During his visit, Fiala will be accompanied by representatives of over 20 Czech companies, including Confederation of Industry President Jan Rafaj.  The visit aims to establish stronger ties with Africa, recognizing the economic potential and the importance of African countries as partners for the Czech Republic and the European Union.

crime Police uncovers VAT evasion of CZK 1.2 billion on imported goods

Czech police have accused seven individuals, including three foreigners, four Czech citizens, and three firms of VAT evasion. They imported goods from China, causing CZK 1.2 billion in damage. If convicted, the suspects could face up to 13 years in prison. Investigators believe they formed a group of business companies to import goods into the European Union from third countries, primarily China, between 2018 and 2021.

The goods had a value of approximately CZK 5.4 billion. The group attempted to avoid VAT payments by falsely declaring that the goods were destined for other EU member states, and then selling them online without paying taxes.

Crime Police probe 'unfortunate' Halloween costume at protest

Prague police are investigating a woman who wore clothing with a potentially controversial reference to the 1972 Munich Olympics during a recent pro-Palestinian demonstration. The Munich Olympics is known for the tragic terrorist attack by Palestinian extremists that resulted in the deaths of Israeli athletes.

The police have not provided further details, but the woman's attire raised concerns. The Czech Interior Minister called the attire "cynical" and is inquiring if it violated the law. The woman, reportedly a Halloween costume enthusiast, stated it was an unfortunate mistake. The incident occurred during two simultaneous gatherings in Prague, one in support of Israel and another for Palestine amid the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Economy CNB keeps interest rate at 7 percent, worsens economic outlook

The Banking Council of the Czech National Bank (ČNB) maintained the base interest rate at seven percent in its recent meeting, consistent since June 2022. However, the Central Bank has downgraded the Czech economy's outlook, anticipating a 0.4 percent GDP decrease this year and 1.2 percent growth in the following year. The average inflation estimate for the next year has been raised to 2.6 percent.

ČNB Governor Aleš Michl recommended initiating interest rate reduction in the fourth quarter of this year, although, at the current meeting, only two of seven members voted for a quarter-point rate drop. The councilors are taking a cautious approach, considering current economic data and potential pro-inflationary risks.

Auto industry Fourth generation Škoda Superb unveiled

The fourth generation of the Škoda Superb is set to begin production by the year's end at the Volkswagen plant in Bratislava, alongside the Passat model. Škoda Auto announced the news at Thursday's world premiere of the new car. The latest Superb model boasts enhanced efficiency, featuring a redesigned plug-in hybrid system with over 100 kilometers of pure electric range.

It also introduces a new body design, improved aerodynamics, and an expanded interior concept with a 13-inch information system screen. Five power units, safety enhancements, and Simply Clever features, including rear passenger smartphone pockets and an electrically operated boot lid, make this a highly anticipated release in the mid-range model range.

Politics Czech lower house supports Israel, condemns Hamas

The Czech lower house foreign affairs committee expressed support for Israel and condemned Hamas in a resolution. They backed Israeli government actions to free kidnapped citizens and retaliate against a recent terrorist attack. On Oct. 7, a Hamas attack resulted in over 1,400 deaths, predominantly civilians, and the abduction of more than 240 people into the Gaza Strip.

The committee denounced the terrorist attack and expressed solidarity with Israeli citizens. They disapproved of relativizing these "abhorrent crimes" by Hamas, emphasizing their unprecedented nature. The legislators also welcomed the European Commission's suspension of financial support to Gaza and called for European funds' development programs to be thoroughly reviewed in this regard.

Anniversary Slovak president to honor Velvet Revolution in Prague

Slovak President Zuzana Caputova will visit the Czech Republic to commemorate the Velvet Revolution's 1989 anniversary on Nov.17. Čaputová will arrive on the eve of the event. Her visit holds significance, reflecting common frustrations and challenges faced by both Czechia and Slovakia.

Čaputová's visit to the Czech Republic coincides with her last presidential term, as she announced her decision not to seek re-election in June. Her current term will conclude in mid-June 2024. Čaputová previously visited the country in January and met with the Czech head of state, Petr Pavel, along with a visit to Ukraine.

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