Regular season NHL games take place at Prague's O2 Arena tonight and tomorrow

Plus: PM Fiala calls first EPC meeting a success, Zeman giving state award to Josef Mašín, new space technology center opens in Prague, and more headlines. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 01.10.2022 12:07:00 (updated on 07.10.2022) Reading time: 20 minutes

Sports NHL teams come to Prague for two games

Today and Saturday's match between the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Prague's O2 Arena will start the NHL’s new season. These are regular season games and not exhibition matches. Two Czechs, defender Radim Šimek and forward Tomáš Hertl, will also be seen in the Sharks jersey. The San Jose team arrived in Prague on Wednesday from Berlin and Nashville visited the Czech capital already on Tuesday. Both teams won friendly games against local teams.

The games are not without controversy. Despite earlier information that Russian athletes might not be granted visas, they are present in Prague. Czech hockey legend Dominik Hašek said the games were advertisements for Putin's regime.

Politics PM Fiala calls first EPC meeting a success

The first meeting of European leaders within the framework of the European Political Community (EPC) in Prague took place at a critical moment; due to Russian aggression in Ukraine, the stability and security of Europe are threatened, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said after the summit. At the summit, top representatives of more than four dozen countries discussed peace, stability, migration, energy security, and the economy. The next summit in this format will take place in Moldova.

According to Fiala, events like the EPC summit move Europe forward. He considers it important, for example, to get rid of dependence on states that can subsequently blackmail Europe like Russia, and the need to diversify resources. "And we receive assurances from countries such as Norway and Azerbaijan that they are ready to participate in this, to cooperate with the European Union, to help us. This is extremely important," Fiala said.

Politics Macron: Ukraine will set conditions to end the war

The war in Ukraine cannot have only a military solution and must end at a negotiating table, at a time and under conditions chosen by Ukrainians as they are victims of aggression, French President Emmanuel Macron told the international press in Prague. Macron called for mutual solidarity in Europe and for the strengthening of the joint European defense Peace cannot be in Europe unless state sovereignty and inviolability of borders are respected, he said.

In connection with the Russian attack, Macron called on Europeans to stop relying only on the Americans for their own defense, and cooperate more within the EU. He said that a joint European defense should certainly not replace NATO, which is essential. Macron added that Europe should also have its own capacities for the production of defense systems.

Honors Zeman to give state award to Josef Mašín

President Miloš Zeman will give out state honors for the last time on the Oct. 28 national holiday. He plans to posthumously honor resistance fighter Josef Mašín, a member of the anti-Nazi resistance organization Tři králové (Three Kings) and a hero of the anti-Nazi resistance. His daughter Zdena Mašínová told new server Seznam Zprávy that she refuses to accept it from the hands of the president, and that the award should be presented to her by Defense Minister Jana Černochová.

Relations between Zeman and Mašínová have been tense for years over Zeman’s reluctance to recognize the efforts of her brothers, the sons of Josef Mašín, who fought against the communist regime.

Science New space technology center opens in Prague

Transport Minister Martin Kupka and Finance Minister Zbyněk Stanjura officially opened the new C3T center for testing space and aviation technologies in the Czech Aerospace Research Center (VZLÚ) in Prague. VZLÚ director Josef Kašpar said the new CZK 165 million building will be full of modern technology in a few years and will offer tests for which research institutions and firms have to go abroad now. C3T would focus on tests and development of unmanned air transport of cargo and people and on space technology that can be used also on Earth. The center is preparing infrastructure that would allow building satellites weighing up to 300 kilograms.

Oct. 6

Diplomacy Czech ambassador: Qatari Emir left Prague satisfied

Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was satisfied when he left Prague, and the fact that a major part of his delegation stayed in Czechia reflects the importance of the visit, Czech Ambassador to Qatar Petr Chalupecky told ČTK today. The Qatari Emir left Czechia on Wednesday evening.

Presidential Office foreign section head Rudolf Jindrák said that it was because Brussels had not approved his attendance at today's informal summit of European countries. News server Deník N, which broke information about the Emir's departure, also mentioned that he had wanted to attend a gala dinner, but it was too late to arrange an invitation.

Crime Police propose rape charges against well-known Czech psychiatrist

The police have proposed that Czech psychiatrist and writer Jan Cimický be charged with 28 cases of rape and extortion of his female patients, the police tweeted. They did not release his name, but it became apparent out of the context. The police launched a criminal prosecution of Cimický earlier this year saying he committed the crimes from 1980 to 2016. Cimický previously denied the accusations and stated that he would prove his innocence. Last autumn, several female patients accused Cimický of sexual harassment or a direct sexual attack.  

Diplomacy Qatari Emir leaves early after he can't be added to gala dinner list

Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani left Czechia before 10 P.M. last night. He originally had an arranged program for today as well, but made demands that the Czech diplomacy could not meet. Deník N reported that he wanted to be added to a meeting of heads of state of Prague Castle and also attend a gala dinner for 50 leaders, but it was too late to change the arrangements. He was offered informal meetings but decided to leave early instead.

History Bronze Age golden tiara found by Czech farmer

A farmer found a 60-gram golden tiara from the Bronze Age in the Opava region while harvesting beets at the end of September. It will become part of the Bruntál museum collection. It will be exhibited for the first time at the end of next year. The finder will receive a reward worth 10 percent of the amount determined by the expert. The value of the jewel has yet to be determined by an expert opinion. It will now undergo treatment and analysis to confirm its origins.

Ukraine Czech military materiel supplies to Kyiv reach CZK 47 billion

The export of military materiel from the Czech Republic to Ukraine has mounted up to CZK 47 billion this year, the state has provided aid worth CZK 4.2 billion, Defense Minister Jana Černochová has told media, adding that the cabinet approved further aid to Ukraine, a heavy equipment supply. Černochová said it is heavy equipment, short as well as long weapons and ammunition. She said the current situation may help return the Czech defense industry up to the position the Czech arms makers enjoyed in the 1920s and 1930s.

Energy Czech Foreign Ministry announces cutbacks for all buildings

The Czech Foreign Ministry wants to save 15 to 18 percent on energy year-on-year with measures that also apply to over 100 diplomatic missions abroad, the ministry wrote in a press release. The temperature in the ministry's buildings is not supposed to exceed 20 degrees Celsius, and it will be kept at 16 degrees in the hallways and storerooms. Other measures include reducing the lighting in the ministry's buildings and removing all portable heaters. The operating hours of the paternoster lift will also be reduced. These measures are supposed to save CZK 2.2 million to CZK 2.7 million crowns on energy year-on-year, the ministry stated.

Business Firm co-owned by Babis's funds buys Spanish fertility clinic

The FutureLife health group, owned by CVC investment fund and the Hartenberg group that belongs to the trust funds of Czech opposition leader Andrej Babiš, has bought the Institute Marques assisted reproduction clinic in Barcelona, daily Hospodářské noviny reported. This is the first time that FutureLife, which has its seat in Prague, has expanded to southern Europe in the field of assisted reproduction and the first time it has entered the Spanish market where the IVI group is at home. FutureLife will own 80 percent in Institute Marques, the price has not been released.

Oct. 6, 2023

DIPLOMACY Czech president meets with Emir of Qatar

According to a Tweet from Prague Castle, the Czech president has met with the Emir of the State of Qatar. Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Thani will visit Czechia this week, meet President Miloš Zeman at Prague Castle on Wednesday and stay in Prague until Oct. 7, which is also during the Prague informal EU summit due on Oct. 6-7.

The emir will speak with Zeman and several Czech delegates about Qatar's possible investments in Czechia, including in energy, transport, spas, and the armament industry as well as Qatari gas.

UKRAINE Ukrainian Embassy vandalized early Wednesday morning

The headquarters of the Ukrainian embassy in Prague were sprayed with red paint last night. Police spokesman Jan Rybanský confirmed to ČTK that the police have been dealing with the case of the embassy's defaced house and building on Charles de Gaulle Street since the early hours of Wednesday. The paint hit several dozen meters of the wall.

Similar incidents occurred at the Russian embassy in the past. Demonstrators sprayed its seat with red color symbolizing blood on Feb. 24, the day that Russian launched the attack on Ukraine.

The protests continued in the following days when red color appeared on the stairs outside the embassy. Activists called for the Red Month event during which people should dose any property of the Russian Federation with five liters of blood-like red color in order to highlight the war victims in Ukraine.

Tragedy One dead, three injured in car collision in Prague

A Tuesday night collision between two cars in Černokostelecká and Sazečská streets in Prague left one person dead and three injured, two of whom are in serious condition in a hospital. The third had only minor injuries to a hand. The passenger cars collided shortly before 8:00 p.m., according to police and EMS reports. The police are investigating the circumstances and causes of the accident.

Babiš State fund wants subsidy back from Agrofert subsidiary

The State Agricultural Intervention Fund (SZIF) wants the return of a subsidy worth just under CZK 1 million from an Agrofert subsidiary, Czech Radio reported. The fund's management sent a letter to Schrom Farms on Sept. 9. The European Commission refused to reimburse the public money for the modernization of the chicken farm due to a conflict of interests of then-prime minister Andrej Babiš, whose trust funds the concern belongs to, resulting from the conclusions of the EU audit.

Because of this and other errors, the EC fined the Czech Republic over CZK 82 million. The SZIF has suspended all subsidies to Agrofert subsidiaries as a precaution.

Sports Sparta loses Champions League game due to plane defect

The Finnish team Mikkelin Jukurit won an ice hockey Champions League game against Sparta Prague 3-0 by default because the Czech team did not arrive in Finland due to an aircraft defect. The game had to be canceled because it was not possible to postpone it and play within the next 24 hours. Sparta lost the chance to advance from its group due to the defeat. The plane was a charter flight that Sparta used for the first time. Sparta was unable to secure alternative transportation.

Defense Ministry sends unbinding request for U.S. F-35s

The Czech Defense Ministry on Monday sent an unbinding request to the U.S. for an offer of 24 F-35 fighters as a precondition of further bilateral negotiations that should continue in the U.S. as of mid-October, the ministry announced in a press release. The opening talks about a possible purchase of the modern U.S. fighters started in September when the Czech and U.S. teams met.

F-35 Lightning in flight. Photo: Wikimedia commons, public domain.
F-35 Lightning in flight. Photo: Wikimedia commons, public domain.

The next meeting is scheduled for mid-October when the Czech ministry's representatives will negotiate in the U.S. the parameters of the purchase and the operation of the planes. The U.S. planes are to replace the Swedish Gripens that have been leased from Sweden until 2027 with a two-year option.

Weather Second half of September ranks among coldest 10 percent

The second half of this September in Prague's Klementinum just barely made it into the top 10 percent of the coldest in the last 248 years. As a whole, however, the month was unremarkable. The monthly average temperature of 15.3 degrees Celsius was only 0.1 degrees higher than the average from 1775 to 2014, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ). The second half of September, though, was significantly colder this year than the first two weeks.

The warmest September since 1775 was recorded in Klementinum in 1798, when the average monthly temperature reached 19.4 degrees Celsius. The coldest was September 1912, when the monthly average was 10.1 degrees.

Oct. 4

Politics Jan Lipavský releases new pic with U.S. President Biden

Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský released a picture of him meeting U.S. President Joe Biden. The two met in New York when Lipavský attended the UN General Assembly meeting at the end of September. Lipavský on Twitter captioned the photo, “In case you were wondering who I was following on the New York subway.” This was in reference to a photo that he posted on Sept. 22 of him inside a train.  

Politics Lipavský summons Russian envoy over annexation

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský has summoned Russian Ambassador to Prague Alexander Zmeyevsky to the Foreign Ministry over the blatant violation of international law and the illegal annexation of Ukrainian provinces, Lipavský tweeted. "Via our Deputy Minister Jaroslav Kurfurst, we have clearly shown to Russia that we will not tolerate the criminal aggression and foul theft of territory," Lipavský said.

The Czech ministry wrote on its website that Zmeyevsky had been told that Czechia resolutely condemns the unlawful Russian annexation, which it does not recognize and will not recognize in the future.  

Politics Environment minister to step down

Environment Minister Anna Hubáčková will submit her resignation to Prime Minister Petr Fiala today. She is giving up her post due to health reasons, she said. She was diagnosed with a health problem in June but has not disclosed details. The Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) will nominate deputy chairman Petr Hladík to take the post, He will meet with President Miloš Zeman soon and could take over the post next week. Hubáčková said she is proud of her accomplishments, such as the negotiations regarding the Turów coal mine.

City Hall No progress in negotiation for next Prague administration

A second meeting between the Spolu coalition, which won the local elections in Prague, and the Pirates brought no breakthrough. The Pirates continue to insist that they do not want a criminally prosecuted person on the City Council. The Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL), which is part of the Spolu coalition, want to nominate Jan Wolf, who is involved in a scandal over sports subsidies.

The Pirates also don’t want people to hold two government positions. This puts them at odds with Civic Democrat (ODS) local leader Bohuslav Svoboda, who wants to hold the mayoral post as well as remain in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament.

Weather Hurricane-force winds hits Sněžka

Winds with a speed of up to 120.6 km/hour hit Sněžka, the highest peak in the Czech Republic (at 1,603 meters), in the Krkonoše mountains, meteorologists said, citing the data from the station at the post office on its peak. Both sections of the cableway to Sněžka were closed as it can only run in winds up to 60 km/hour. The temperature on the mountain was one degree Celsius below zero, but due to the strong wind the feel was minus eight. Due to its unusual shape and location, Sněžka has an arctic climate.

Crime Czech customs officers seize thousands of dangerous toys

Czech customs officers took part in an international operation against fake and potentially dangerous toys in the summer. The Czech customs directorate announced they found around 150,000 fake toys within the checks in storerooms of shipping companies in Czechia. The international investigation began before Christmas in 2020, when very many fake and defective toys appeared on the French market. These products contained banned substances and violated trademarks.

Photo of customs officals, via CELNÍ SPRÁVA
Photo of customs officals, via CELNÍ SPRÁVA

They appeared in other countries as well, so France asked Europol and the customs police from Czechia, Poland, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Britain to take part in the operation. In total, customs officers in Europe seized 16.7 million toy products.

Oct. 3

RUSSIA ForMin asks Czechs to leave Russia

Another package of sanctions against Russia is currently being debated in the EU, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský said, declining to disclose specifics until the debate is over. The sanctions in response to Russia’s illegal annexation of parts of Ukraine could be agreed on at an EU meeting in Prague later this week.

EXTREME WEATHER Sněžka hit by a hurricane, cable car out of service

Sněžka mountain was hit by hurricane-speed winds today with gusts of wind reaching a speed of 120.6 km/h Monday morning, according to data from the measuring station on top of Sněžka. Hurricans are classified as winds of up to 118 km/hr. Due to high winds, the cable car did not run today on both sections from Peca pod Sněžka to Sněžka.

Tragedy Car drives into public transport stop in Bratislava, killing four

At least four people died and seven suffered injuries in a crash in the Bratislava center involving a passenger car that drove into pedestrians at a public transport stop Sunday night, firefighting and emergency authority told the media. The firefighters said they were extricating people from the car itself and from beneath it. There were a number of people at the public transport stop at the time of the accident, the firefighters said. It is used by the buses that connect Bratislava's center with its biggest housing project.

Sports Jágr says he may not return as active player

Ice-hockey forward Jaromír Jágr, 50 told ČTK he may not return to the ice as an active player, as he is not motivated and has no time for it, being busy with running the team he owns, Rytíři Kladno. However, the Winter Classic outdoor hockey event may make him change his mind, he added. Jágr, the Olympic medalist from Nagano and a double winner of the Stanley Cup and world championship, played last time in a relegation game with Jihlava on April 25, which Kladno won 6-3 and managed to stay in Elite League. In the past season, Jagr played 48 games, scoring 21 points for eight goals and 13 assists.

Politics Prague Castle to close due to summits

Prague will host two big summits this week. Presidents and prime ministers of the 27 members plus representatives of Ukraine, Britain, Turkey, Israel, and other countries, will come to the meeting of the European Political Community on Thursday. On Friday, an informal summit of EU members will be held in Prague as part of the Czech presidency. The busiest locations will be the journeys to the city center from Václav Havel Airport and the area around Prague Castle. The Castle will be closed to the public from Tuesday to Saturday.

Weather Warm temperatures to arrive mid-week

The weather will remain even colder with showers in the Czech Republic until Tuesday. From Wednesday, the late summer will arrive, with temperatures above 20 degrees. It should cool down again at the end of the week, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ). During today and Tuesday, colder and wetter air will still flow into the Czech Republic from the northwest. In the middle of the week, warm air from the south will reach the Czech Republic. Mostly cloudy weather with showers or rain may return later in the weekend.

Politics STAN gets new leader in Senate

Senator Jan Sobotka, the mayor of Vrchlabi, east Bohemia, has been elected the head of the 20-member senator group of the Mayors and Independents (STAN), the second largest bloc in the upper house of Czech parliament, for the next two years, Czech TV reported. Sobotka will replace Petr Holeček, who failed to defend his mandate in the Mělník ward, central Bohemia. STAN remains the second strongest senator group despite its failure in this year's Senate elections. Out of the six mandates it was defending, only Michael Canov succeeded in the Liberec ward, north Bohemia.

Oct. 2

Fake News Facebook uncovers Chinese disinfo campaign targeting Czechia

Facebook has revealed that the company recently took down two unconnected networks in Russia and China for violating the social network's policy on coordinated inauthentic behavior. The Chinese network was specifically targeting the Czech Republic in the weeks leading up to the recent Senate and municipal elections.

"In Czechia, this activity was primarily anti-government, criticizing the state’s support of Ukraine in the war with Russia and its impact on the Czech economy, using the criticism to caution against antagonizing China," Facebook wrote in an official release. "This operation ran across multiple social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and two Czech petition platforms."

Sports Barbora Krejčíková advances to final at Tallinn Open

Barbora Krejčíková will play for her fourth career singles title later today after advancing to the Tallinn Open final in Estonia. Krejčíková topped Switzerland's Belinda Bencic during an intense three-hour match on Saturday that ended 6-7, 7-6, 6-2. With her victory, the Czech star avenged a loss to Bencic at last year's Tokyo Olympics, where Bencic ultimately won the gold.

Krejčíková will face first-seeded Estonian and world #4 Anett Kontaveit today at 1:00 p.m. Kontaveit topped compatriot Kaia Kanepi 6-4, 6-4 in straight sets on Saturday to advance to the final. Krejčíková last played in a WTA final in January in Sydney, where she fell to Spain's Paula Badosa.

Politics Turkish President Erdogan to attend EU summit in Prague

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will attend an informal EU summit set to begin in Prague from Thursday, Turkish Ambassador to the Czech Republic Egemen Bağış has told local media. Along with the 27 EU countries, 17 non-member countries, including Ukraine and the United Kingdom, have also been invited to the summit.

After years of stalemate, Turkey has recently indicated that it would like to start strengthening its relationship to the European Union. According to Bağış, a meeting between Erdoğan and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan could potentially take place at the Prague summit.

Education Russian historian, Putin critic to teach at Brno university

Andrey Zubov, a Russian historian and vocal critic of Vladimir Putin, will teach at Masaryk University after fleeing Russia this weekend. Masaryk University spokesman Radim Sajbot has confirmed that Zubov, who crossed the Russian border into Finland shortly before it closed, will hold a series of lectures on the history of Russia in the 20th century at the university.

"Dear friends, last night we crossed the borders of Finland, literally at the last moment before they were closed," Zubov wrote on Facebook on Friday. "It hurts me a lot that I had to take this step. I hope it is only temporarily, for a short time." In 2014, Zubov was fired from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations after he criticized the annexation of Crimea.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Election Second round of Czech Senate election continues today

The second and final round of the 2022 Czech Senate elections has entered its last day on Saturday, with polling stations opening from 8:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m. Final results of the Senate election are expected to be posted later this afternoon on the website of the Czech Statistical Office.

Czech opposition party ANO led the first round of Senate voting, in which a total of 27 seats were up for grabs, by sending 17 candidates to the second round. However, only six of those candidates were leading in the first round of voting. Three seats were won outright during the first round, leaving 24 to be contested today.

Sports Barbora Krejčíková makes semifinals at Tallinn Open

Czech tennis star Barbora Krejčíková has made it to the semifinals at this year's Tallinn Open, topping Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-3, 6-4 in quarterfinal action on Friday. Compatriot Karolína Muchová fell to Estonian Kaia Kanepi in the quarterfinals to exit this year's tournament.

Krejčíková will face second-seeded Belinda Bencic from Switzerland at 12:00 today for the chance to make her seventh career final. Kanepi will match up against top-seeded Estonian and WTA world #4 Anett Kontaveit in the other semifinal to determine the lineup for tomorrow's final match in Tallinn.

Economy Czech Republic waives fee for renewable energy resources

From today through the end of the year, the Czech Republic has waived its consumer tax for renewable energy resources (POZE) to help combat surging energy prices in the country. The fee is paid at a set rate based on energy consumption, with funds intended to go towards reusable energy sources such as wind and solar.

Currently, Czech consumers pay 599 crowns in renewable energy taxes for every megawatt-hour of energy consumed. The average Czech household consumes around three megawatt-hours of energy per year, meaning they will save about 450 crowns in renewable energy taxes through the end of this year.

Legal EU court ends six-year investigation into Czech Railways

The European Commission has ended a six-year investigation into Czech Railways without finding fault in the Czech railway company, according to Reuters. The company was accused of charging below-market rates for its Prague-Ostrava route between 2011 and 2019, but antitrust investigators found no evidence to continue with the case.

"Great news for Czech Railways," writes Michal Krapinec, CEO of Czech Railways, on Twitter. "Today we received a decision from the European Commission in the case of allegedly below-cost prices on the Prague-Ostrava line. The alleged anti-competitive behavior that should have taken place on the part of Czech Railways was not found to be justified. Great satisfaction after years of protracted case."

Crime Van carrying illegal immigrants crashes in Břeclav

A van full of Syrian immigrants crashed on the outskirts of Břeclav this morning while fleeing from a police checkpoint, Michaela Bothová, a spokesperson for regional rescue services, told journalists. The crash, which sent the van into parked cars and a household, left a total of 21 people injured.

"At around 7:00 a.m. this morning, a white van did not stop during a check at the Lanžhot-Stará cesta border crossing and continued at high speed towards the Czech Republic," said police spokesperson Petr Vala. "Police officers began to pursue the van and when they tried to stop it by overtaking it, the van driver tried to push them off the road."

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