Night ban on entering Bohemian Switzerland National Park ending

Plus: Czech activist arrested in Britain, September is one of the wettest and coldest in 20 years, and more top headlines for Sept. 30, 2022.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 24.09.2022 11:54:00 (updated on 30.09.2022) Reading time: 19 minutes

Defense Czech Gripens return from Baltics

Four Czech Gripen fighter jets, deployed in Latvia in early April to secure the air space of the Baltic countries, returned to Czechia today. The Czech military sent five Jas-39 Gripens to the Baltics but one of them was withdrawn as of September in order to secure the Slovak air space. The mission of the Czech pilots was supposed to end in July but Latvia asked for it to be prolonged because there was no one to substitute for the Czech fighter aircraft. Czech pilots and staff served over 40 flights. They were mainly dealing with non-communicating Russian aircraft and other planes that did not respect the rules of international air-space traffic.

Migration Czech police arrest 19 human traffickers at Slovak border

The Czech police arrested 11 human traffickers and found 247 migrants in South Moravia during the first 24 hours after their checks at the Slovak border started, and further eight traffickers and 80 migrants were found between midnight and early morning today. Czechia has introduced the checks due to the rising illegal migration, mostly of Syrians from Turkey. Police patrols have been carrying out the checks at 17 road border crossings, seven rail and three river crossings since Thursday.

Fire Night ban on entry into Bohemian Switzerland ending

The nighttime ban on entering the fire-damaged Bohemian Switzerland National Park will end on Saturday, but other entry restrictions will continue. Starting Saturday, hikers will be able to get from Hřensko to the Pravčická brána and from Mezní Louka via Větrovec hill to the Malá Pravčická brána. The Kamenice river confluence and the Gabrielina stezka will remain inaccessible, the park administration told ČTK. The trails will not be opened again this year. The largest forest fire in the country's history broke out on July 24. The fire later spread to more than 1,000 hectares. 

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Weather This September is one of the wettest and coldest in 20 years

This September is one of the wettest and coldest in the last 20 years, according to climatologists. In some places, twice as much water has already fallen as the long-term normal. This complicates work mainly for farmers, who have not been able to harvest some crops which are already overripe. However, meteorologists do not rule out that summer will still come, news station ČT24 reported. Meteorologists expect a more significant change only in the middle of next week when a granny summer could arrive in the Czech Republic. More rain fell in 2017 and 2020, the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ) said.

Activism Czech activist arrested in Britain for blocking oil terminal

British police arrested Czech activist of German origin Arne Springorum two weeks ago for having blocked an oil terminal in Kingsbury, Warwickshire county, by sitting on the road and obstructing the entry, the Czech Last Generation activist group informed ČTK in a press release today. Springorum, along with another 51 Just Stop Oil movement members, called for stopping new projects of oil and gas extraction in Britain. The activist broke the court ruling forbidding protests in front of the Kingsbury terminal and after eight days in custody, he was sentenced to 21 days in prison with a two-year probation. He also has to pay expenses worth GBP 412. Springorum is a member of the Extinction Rebellion group and in early 2022, he established its Czech branch the Last Generation.

Defense Czech military to have new commanders

The Czech military will have new commanders of its ground forces and the air force, Brigadier General Roman Náhončík and Brigadier General Petr Čepelka, as of new year. They will replace retiring generals. The first Czech female general, Lenka Šmerdová, will also leave the military at the end of the year. Náhončík, 52, is an experienced commander who served in NATO structures and studied abroad. Currently, he is the deputy commander of the ground forces. Čepelka, 53, now heads the Defense Ministry section of the development of forces. He joined the military as a helicopter pilot and navigator in the early 1990s.  

Sept. 29, 2022

Czech police begin border control with Slovakia today

Czech police have started checks at the Slovak border due to the increasing numbers of refugees streaming across the Czech Republic to Germany and Austria. The border checks will continue for at least 27 former border crossings for ten days. Slovak PM Eduard Heger criticized the Czech measure on Wednesday. Checks have also been instated by Austria at its border with Slovakia today.

Tourists are forbidden to move along the trails and paths along the state border or cross it. Breaches of the ban would face a high fine. Farmers, gamekeepers, and fishermen working in the border area are exempted.

The cabinet called for the temporary introduction of the border checks on Monday evening. The first phase of the measure will last until Oct. 8. The Czech cabinet wants to negotiate with Slovakia in the meantime and then assess the border checks' effectiveness.

Czech police have detained almost 12,000 migrants this year so far, far more than in 2015 when a migrant crisis culminated in Europe. The police have also detained 125 people smugglers, compared with annual few dozen of them detained in the past years.

Police have detained over 120 migrants and seven smugglers since midnight when the border control began. 

Honors Senate chairman decorates prominent Czech personalities

Opera singer Dagmar Peckova, journalist Lida Rakusanova, and writer Petr Hora-Horejs were among the personalities to receive a silver medal at an annual ceremony presented by Senate chairman Milos Vystrcil Wednesday.

A total of nineteen medals were awarded to Czechs who made a significant contribution to their country and the world. Among them, co-founder of the People in Need NGO, Igor Blazevic, singer Ida Kelarova, and dancer Yemi Akinyemi Dele. Medals also went to the creator of the Zachranka (Ambulance) mobile app.

"I would be very happy if you saw today's decoration not only as a matter of thanks but also as an obligation that you will continue with what you do, that you will be still an inspiration, those showing the direction that fulfills the life, bringing help, solidarity, freedom, and democracy," Vystrcil tweeted.

Sept. 28, 2022

PRotests Thousands descend on Wenceslas Square for protest

According to the police's estimate, tens of thousands of people gathered at the anti-government demonstration on Wenceslas Square in Prague at 2:00 p.m. The protest is peaceful so far. Organizers are broadcasting the event to other cities. 

politics Anti-government protests to take place today in Prague, dozen other cities

Protests against the government of Petr Fiala (ODS) are scheduled to take place today in Prague, Brno, Plzeň, Liberec and České Budějovice. The Prague rally starts at 2 p.m. on Wenceslas Square. The rally in Ostrava will see the participation of the right-wing populist SPD party leader Tomio Okamura, and other SPD members.

Called “Czech Republic in the first place,” the protests are organized by Jiří Havel and Ladislav Vrábel, who were also the organizers of a rally earlier this month that was attended by more than 70,000 people.

According to the website of the Czech Republic in the first place movement, the demonstrations will also be broadcast in real time to screens located in other Czech cities. The movement’s requests include securing direct contracts with Russia for low-priced gas; Czechia’s military neutrality; voluntary vaccination; and the Czech industry’s “independence” from foreign companies. 

Statehood day Czech Senate to award medals on the Day of Czech Statehood

Personalities who excelled in their field or contributed to the good reputation of the Czech Republic abroad will receive silver commemorative medals today in the Senate. The medals will be presented to them on the Day of Czech Statehood Wednesday evening in Valdštejn Palace by the Speaker of the Upper Chamber, Miloš Vystrčil. The awards are given to personalities from the ranks of scientists, artists, athletes, and other public figures.

ART Prague National Gallery plans cooperation with Louvre

The Prague National Gallery (NGP) will continue the international projects connected to the Czech EU presidency by cooperating with French partners for several exhibitions in the coming years.

The NGP's Collection of Prints and Drawings prepares a Manneristic graphic arts exhibition at the Wallenstein Riding School in Prague for 2024 in cooperation with the Louvre museum in Paris. The latter will provide significant loans of graphic arts, paintings and other art pieces, NPG General Director Alicja Knast noted, adding that the NGP plans to lend its own pieces to France for an exhibition that Czech curators will organize for the 2024/2025 season.

Next year, the NGP will present projects that have been hosted in Brussels as part of Czechia's current EU presidency: “Flower Union” and an exhibition of Milena Dopitova's works.

Immigration Police start checks at border 27 crossings with Slovakia

The Czech Republic will introduce police checks at 27 former border crossings with Slovakia due to illegal migration, mainly of Syrians. The crossings include 17 road, seven railway, and three river crossings. In other places, it will not be possible to cross the state border for at least the next 10 days starting at midnight Wednesday to Thursday. Farmers, foresters, hunters, and fishermen will have an exception when performing their work in the immediate border area, the Czech Police said in a press release.

Since the beginning of this year, the police have arrested almost 12,000 migrants on Czech territory. This significantly exceeds the figures from 2015, when Europe's migration crisis was at its peak.  

Elections Local election results to be made official today

The results of the weekend municipal elections should be announced today in the Collection of Laws. At the same time, the results of the first round of senate elections from three constituencies, where people chose a member of the upper chamber already in the first round, will be announced. From Sept. 28 to Oct. 7, people will then be able to appeal to the administrative courts with complaints about the conduct of the elections or question the election of any of the candidates. The second round of the Senate elections will take place on Sept. 30 and Oct.1.

Economy Govt. approves draft budget with CZK 295 billion deficit

The government unanimously approved the draft state budget for next year with a deficit of CZK 295 billion, Finance Minister Zbyněk Stanjura said at a press conference. The biggest change compared to the original proposal, which counted on a deficit of CZK 270 billion, is the expenditure on capping the prices of electricity and gas. They should be covered by income from the tax on extraordinary profits and levies from the income from the sale of electricity above the price ceiling approved by the European Commission. The budget will now be considered by the Chamber of Deputies.

Economy Retirement pensions to rise by CZK 825 next year

Retirement pensions in the Czech Republic will increase by an average of CZK 825 from January. The solidary basic part of all old-age, disability and survivors' pensions will increase by CZK 140. In addition, the merit percentage will increase by 5.1 percent based on years of service and the amount of taxes on earnings. The changes were approved by the government, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Marian Jurečka announced on Twitter. From January, old-age pensions will also increase by a bonus of CZK 500 for a raised child. The average old-age pension should reach CZK 19,500 at the beginning of next year, according to the ministry.

Crime Police determine triple murder, suicide in death of Czech family

Police are investigating the case of four dead bodies, two adults and two children, in Měšice, Central Bohemia, as a triple murder and suicide, police spokeswoman Barbora Schneeweissová said, adding that the crime scene was the site of a family tragedy. Police arrived on the scene at around 1 p.m. yesterday after neighbors alerted authorities that they had not seen the family for a long time. Firefighters helped them enter the house.

"Inside, the police found persons without any signs of life, two adults and two underage children," Schneeweissová said. "According to the preliminary findings, these are a triple murder and subsequent suicide," she added. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the cause of death.

Sept. 26, 2022

CRIME Four found dead in house in Prague East

Four dead people have been found in a house in the Prague-East district near the Czech capital and police are investigating whether they died a violent death, a police spokesperson said. There are investigators and forensic experts on the scene. It isn't yet known who found the dead. The server Tn.cz said the incident happened in the village of Měšice, but the police did not confirm the news saying only that the bodies were found in a municipality in Prague-East.

Politics Bohemian Switzerland head sacked over crisis management failure

Czech Environment Minister Anna Hubackova has sacked Pavel Benda from his position as Bohemian Switzerland National Park director over his crisis management failures amid the devastating fire two months ago, ministry spokeswoman Beata Bernikova told CTK today.

Thousands of firefighters tackled the flames for 20 days, starting in late July.

The financial losses suffered by local entrepreneurs are estimated at more than CZK 500 million, Usti Region Governor Jan Schiller (ANO) recently said.

Covering 79 square kilometers, Bohemian Switzerland is the youngest national park in Czechia, offering unique sandstone towns and original ecosystems.

Communication breakdown between Benda and local authorities also played a part in his dismissal, as mayors of some towns in Bohemian Switzerland repeatedly complained about the National Park Management's insufficient communication. 

drugs Police capture record amount of pills for pervitin production

Czech customs police seized three million ephedrine pills in a van with a Polish plate number during a check on the D2 motorway last week, their spokeswoman Lada Temnakova said in a press release today.

At more more than 700 kilograms, this is the largest amount of ephedrine tablets seized in South Moravia this century. The van transported the tablets from Romania to Ostrava, North Moravia. Since the driver did not have the required documents for such transport, the police suspected that the tablets would be used for illegal production of drugs, Temnakova said.

Pervitin (methamphetamine) has been made illegally in secret labs in Czechia for years.

Emergency Pražská energetika says power outage not their fault

Power outages in some Prague districts on Sunday evening were caused by a large balloon hitting a power line. "It was not a technical fault, but, according to my information, contact of the high-voltage line with a foreign body," Pražská energetika (PRE) spokesman Karel Hanzelka told ČTK. "I have information that a large fairground balloon flew into the line and there was an automatic shutdown," he added. The Prague fire department said on Twitter that, as a result of the power outage, they registered an increased number of requests to rescue people stuck in the elevator. There were 12 cases. The outage also limited the operation of tram lines 4, 6, 7, 11, 14, 18, 19, 22, and 26.  

Crime Babiš trial will continue this week

The Prague Municipal Court today will continue hearing the subsidy fraud case regarding the Čapí hnízdo complex. Among other things, the court plans to re-interrogate Eva Filipová, who oversaw the drawing of a USD 50 million subsidy by Farma Čapí hnízdo. The head of the ANO opposition movement Andrej Babiš and his former adviser Jany Nagyová have been charged in the case but deny guilt.

Babiš faces a prison sentence of five to 10 years. Prosecutor Jaroslav Šaroch announced that he is proposing only a suspended sentence and a fine of CZK 10 million. Nagyová is now running for Senate in Jihlava. She made it to the second round, where she will face the chairman of the upper chamber, Miloš Vystrčil (ODS).

In related news, judge Jan Sott announced today that experts in psychology and psychiatry will check the mental condition of Andrej Babis Jr by November 30. Babis Jr told court on September 16 that his father transferred the shares for Farma Capi hnizdo to him without his knowledge. Babis Jr said he had never signed a document on the transfer, and only later signed some document in the seat of his father's giant Agrofert holding without reading its content.

Ukraine Demonstration held against Russia's mobilization

About 100 people protested in Prague on Sunday afternoon against Russian aggression in Ukraine and partial mobilization in Russia. The demonstration on náměstí Míru was organized by the Prague Russian Anti-War Committee, which unites opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin and helps Ukrainian refugees. Several people had banners with Putin's likeness and slogans opposing the conflict. After some discussions and music in front of the Church of St. Ludmila, the group walked through the city with a police escort.  

Economy Consumer confidence hits record low

Confidence in the Czech economy continued to drop in September, falling by four points month-on-month to reach 90.1, the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ) reported. The business confidence indicator decreased by 4.0 points to a value of 93.6, while the consumer confidence indicator decreased by 4.4 points to a value of 72.7, the lowest since the survey began in 2003. Compared to last month, consumers are more worried about the worsening of the overall economic situation and their own financial situation. The number of consumers who do not find the current time suitable for making large purchases has increased significantly, the ČSÚ added.

Weather End of September will be cold and wet

Czechia will not experience a granny summer at the end of September. It will cool down on Tuesday and temperatures will reach 15 degrees Celsius during the day. Meteorologists expect slight warming only at the end of the week. It will rain the most on Tuesday, and occasional thunderstorms may also occur. It could snow on the mountain tops on Wednesday. Ground frosts may occur from Wednesday morning, according to the weekly forecast of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ).

Sept. 25, 2022

EMERGENCY Several Prague districts are without power

A power outage in Prague 2, 4, and 10 was announced by the Prague Energy Company, and the restoration is expected at 8:30 p.m. Firefighters say there has been an increased number of requests to rescue people stuck in the elevator. 

Elections SPOLU leads hotly-contested battle for Prague leadership

The SPOLU party earned nearly 25 percent of the vote in municipal elections in Prague and a total of 19 mandates, according to the results of this weekend's elections. The ANO party finished second with 19 percent and 14 mandates, and the Pirate party third with 18 percent and 13 mandates.

While the Pirates received increased support in this year's election, the coalition they currently lead Prague with has weakened, and they won't be able to form a ruling coalition without SPOLU or ANO. Prague's current mayor, Pirate Zdeněk Hřib, is likely to be replaced by SPOLU candidate Bohuslav Svoboda or ANO candidate Patrik Nacher, depending on how a majority coalition is formed. Read more about the results of this weekend's elections here.

Politics Zeman in favor of granting visas to Russians fleeing mobilization

Czech President Miloš Zeman is in favor of granting visas to Russians who are fleeing their homeland to avoid being drafted into the military to fight in the war in Ukraine, he told CNN Prima in an interview this weekend. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský previously stated that the country should not accept Russian refugees.

"I do not agree with Minister Lipavský, who stated that we should not give humanitarian visas to these refugees. He was talking about people fleeing from the draft order," Zeman told CNN Prima, adding that he did not think they posed a security risk. "I think that we should give visas to these people, just like Ukrainian refugees."

Sports Czech football team drops to last place in Nations League

The Czech national football team suffered a 4-0 defeat in a Nations League match at the hands of Portugal last night in Prague. The defeat, the worst the team has suffered at home in the history of the independent Czech Republic, sends the Czech national team to last place in the A2 group at this year's competition.

The match between Portugal and the Czech Republic drew headlines for an injury suffered by star Cristiano Ronaldo, who was left bloody after a collision with Czech goaltender Tomáš Vaclík. The Czech team will close out the six-game league phase of the Nations League competition with a match against Switzerland on Tuesday.

Finance Czech National Bank expected to keep interest rate at 7 percent

The Czech National Bank will decide on the country's base interest rate on Thursday, and is expected to keep it at its highest level since 1999, according to analysts contacted by ČTK. Last week, Eva Zamrazilová and Jan Frait from the CNB's Banking Council spoke out in favor of the seven percent rate.

"The September meeting of the banking board will probably be one of the less exciting ones," Vít Hradil, chief analyst at Cyrrus, told ČTK. "It is still true that Czech inflation is and will remain enormously elevated for a long time, but it will not represent an obstacle to maintaining rates at the current level."

Food & Drink Czech bartender wins bronze at World Championships

After earning a silver medal at the Mattoni Grand Drink non-alcoholic mixing competition earlier this year, Czech bartender Vítězslav Cirok has won a bronze medal at the prestigious Diageo Reserve World Class competition this weekend in Sydney, Australia.

Cirok currently mixes at the famed Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary. His bronze at the World Championships represents the Czech Republic's best showing in recent years. Bartenders from Australia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Canada, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the United States placed in the top 10 at the competition alongside Cirok.

September 24, 2022

Sports Prague Lions advance to top European (American) football league

The Prague Lions, reigning champions in the Czech Republic's American football league, have advanced to European League of Football (ELF), Europe's top American football league. Currently at 12 teams, the EFL will expand to 18 teams as of next year; Germany will have eight teams in the league, Austria two, and Spain, Poland, Turkey, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, France, and Czechia one team each.

"The ELF is the highest-quality European competition and our goal is to stabilize in this league, gain experience, and fight for the title sooner or later," a representative from the Lions told iSport.cz. "We believe that this will advance not only the Prague Lions, who will move from an amateur to professional level, but also American football in the Czech Republic."

Politics Far-right MP Okamura accidentally casts vote for opposing party

Far-right Czech MP Tomio Okamura has been making headlines this weekend during the Czech Senate and municipal elections. On Thursday in Prague, he took an apple strudel to the face from a protester who was immediately arrested by police. Video of the incident was posted to social media by the responsible group.

While casting his vote in Senate elections yesterday in Prague, where his party SPD did not field a Senate candidate, Okamura make a statement by casting a vote for opposing TOP 09 representative Jiří Růžička, tearing up his ballot, and dropping it in the box. According to experts, the torn ballot is most likely not invalidated, meaning Okamura has actually voted for the opposing party.

FIlm Oscar-winning actress from Forman's 'Cuckoo's' Nest passes away

Louise Fletcher, who won an Oscar for her performance as Nurse Ratched in Czech director Miloš Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, has died at the age of 88. According to her manager David Shaul, who did not disclose a cause of death, Fletcher passed away in her sleep.

Miloš Forman's breakthrough Hollywood feature is one of only three films to win the "Big 5" Oscars: Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor (Jack Nicholson) and Actress (Fletcher). While Fletcher was best known for her portrayal of Nurse Ratched, she also drew praise for her work on TV series including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Picket Fences, and Joan of Arcadia.

Sports NHL balks at Czech ban on Russian hockey players

The San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators are slated to kick off the 2022-23 NHL season at Prague's O2 Arena on October 8... or maybe not. After the Czech Foreign Ministry told the two teams that Russian players would not be welcome, representatives from San Jose have threatened not to come to Prague without their full team.

“Either we all go, or no one goes,” Sharks GM Mike Grier told reporters on the first day of training camp yesterday. “I’m a pretty firm believer [that] we’re a team here. We’re a group. It’s not the players’ fault. They didn’t do anything wrong. So I don’t think they should be punished for it." NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the AP he expects the Russian to travel to Prague without issue. "I have no concerns, we expect the Russians to go."

Art Exhibition remembering Christian victims of communism opens in Prague

Czech priest Josef Toufar and Bishop Gorazd II are among the Christian victims of communism remembered by a new Century of Martyrs exhibit in Prague. Located at the Czech capital's Franciscan Monastery at Jungmannovo náměstí, the new exhibit depicts the stories of 27 European victims of the 20th-century totalitarian regimes, and will run through October 7.

The Prague exhibit is the Czech version of a touring event created by the Twentieth Century Memorial Museum and the Platform of European Memory and Conscience. Admission is free.

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