Czech weekend news in brief: January 8–9, 2022

Dlouhé stráně power plant to temporarily close to visitors, Siniaková kicks off 2022 with doubles title in Melbourne, and more headlines from this weekend. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 08.01.2022 11:14:00 (updated on 09.01.2022) Reading time: 6 minutes

Tourism Dlouhé stráně hydropower plant to temporarily close to visitors

The Czech Republic's Dlouhé stráně hydropower plant, a popular tourist destination, will be temporarily closed to visitors from Monday. ČEZ Group, which operates the facility, announced the measure due to concerns related to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic.

Operating since 1996, the mountaintop reservoir is one of most popular tourist destinations in the Olomouc Region of the Czech Republic and was visited by 88,162 people in 2019. Until further notice, it will only be able to visit the location via free virtual tours offered to schools and other interested parties which can be booked online.

Tennis Kateřina Siniaková kicks off 2022 with doubles title in Melbourne

Kateřina Siniaková, world number one in WTA doubles rankings, started 2022 on a high note by winning the Summer Set 2 doubles title in Melbourne this morning. Siniaková and American teammate Bernarda Pera defeated Czech Tereza Martincová and Egyptian Mayar Sherif 5-2, 6-7, 10-5 in a super tiebreak finale.

The win represents the fourteenth doubles title for the 25-year-old Siniaková in WTA play, and a continuation of her breakthrough 2021 season which featured Grand Slam and Champions Tournament titles and a gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo with Czech teammate Barbora Krejčíková. Siniaková will next compete in the Australian Open from January 17.

Crime Prague police detain suspected art thief

Prague police have detained an art thief thanks to information provided by the public, writes spokesperson Richard Hrdina on the police website this weekend. The thief, a foreign national, admitted to stealing paintings valued at almost 500,000 crowns from a gallery in downtown Prague. The paintings were returned to the gallery upon his arrest.

The theft was committed in early December when the 33-year-old took five paintings from a gallery window and left the crime scene via tram. His actions were recorded by CCTV. Based on public information provided by the public, police traced the man to a Prague 3 apartment and detained him on the spot.

Hockey Czech forward Tomáš Hertl scores hat trick in Philadelphia

Czech forward Tomáš Hertl turned his fifth career hat trick last night in Philadelphia, helping his San Jose Sharks top the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in overtime. Down 0-2 in the third period, Hertl scored two late goals to tie it up in regulation before closing the door with the game winner in overtime.

The Prague native has been the leading Czech scorer in the NHL so far this season; his 20 goals also place him in the top ten overall. Elsewhere in the NHL, Czech right winger David Pastrňák scored two goals to help the Boston Bruins top the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday evening.

Recreation More than 4,000 people take part in New Year's hike to Helfštýn Castle

More than 4,000 people took part in an annual New Year's hike to Helfštýn Castle in the Czech Republic's Olomouc Region on Saturday. Favorable weather conditions contributed to the above-average attendance of 4,077 people; in 2020, a record 4,717 people took part in the hike. Last year, the event did not take place for the firs time in its 40-year history due to coronavirus-related measures.

"It was very nice number of visitors, we didn't know what to expect due to the forced interruption due to Covid last year," Helfštýn Castle spokeswoman Eva Lehnertová told reporters. "We expected many people would stay home because of the epidemiological situation or wouldn't return due to the break in tradition."

14:20 Deputy PM Ivan Bartoš re-elected leader of Czech Pirate Party

Deputy PM for digitalization and Minister of Regional Development Ivan Bartoš has been re-elected leader of the Czech Pirate Party at the party's nationwide forum today. Bartoš received 662 out of 948 votes cast in the second round of voting this afternoon in defending his position at the head of the Pirate Party. He will lead the party for another two years.

Bartoš won over senator Lukáš Wagenknecht, who received 265 votes. Support through more than fifty percent of the ballots cast was needed to enter the second round of today's vote. Ostrava councilor David Witosz (355 votes) and former deputy chairwoman Jana Michailidu (285 votes) failed to receive the needed number of votes in the first round of voting.

Money Czech crown hits 10-year high against euro

Czech currency continues to strengthen following a holiday surge, and the crown is now the strongest it has been against the euro over the past decade. On Friday, Czech currency reached 24.44 crowns to the euro and 21.54 crowns to the dollar. According to analysts, continued effects from an increase in in interest rates by the Czech National Bank at the end of last year, and an expected further increase, have resulted in the strengthened crown.

The crown is now the strongest it has been against the euro since mid-2011, when it reached 24.35 crowns to one euro. Since the creation of the euro, the Czech crown was strongest in 2008 at just under 24 crowns to the euro.

Weather Mountain roads remain passable despite snowfall

Despite moderate snowfall in many areas of the Czech Republic overnight, most roads in the country remain passable this morning, though caution is advised when traveling in mountainous regions including the Krkonoše and Orlické resort areas in the north of the country. In South Bohemia, road workers plowed throughout the night to clear snowfall from roads in České Budějovice, Tábor, Jindřichův Hradec and Český Krumlov.

According to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, Saturday will be mostly cloudy in the Czech Republic with occasional snowfall in areas in the western half of the country. Peak highs throughout the Czech Republic this weekend will range between minus two and plus two degrees Celsius.

Sports Tennis player Renata Voráčová has visa withdrawn in Australia

Czech tennis player Renata Voráčová has been placed in quarantine in Australia, joining Serbian star Novak Djokovic at a hotel that has made international headlines this week. Days before the Australian Open, Australian authorities reassessed Voráčová's exemption from Covid vaccination for the event, cancelled her visa, and placed her in quarantine at the hotel.

Voráčová, 81st in WTA doubles rankings, played at a tournament in Melbourne earlier this week but has decided to leave for home and not to play in the Australian Open that starts on January 17. "We can confirm that Czech tennis player Renata Voráčová is in the same detention facility as Djokovic, along with several other players. Our general consulate in Sydney is dealing with the situation and is in contact with the Czech player," the Czech Foreign Ministry told Echo24.

UKRAINE Czechs fighting with pro-Russian separatists charged with terrorism

The High Public Prosecutor's Office in Prague has filed terrorism charges against two Czech nationals who fought alongside pro-Russian separatists during conflict in eastern Ukraine, the office announced on its website on Friday. The two Czechs have been charged with terrorist acts committed within an organised group, for which they may face an exceptional sentence.

Prosecutors say that the two men fought as part of the separatist groups between 2015 and 2020. Criminal charges were filed against them at Prague's Municipal Court on December 15 and December 30. Tight sentences have been imposed on other Czechs who fought with pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. On Tuesday, the Prague Municipal Court sentenced Martin Sukup to 21 years in prison for participation in a terrorist group. Last year, 20-year sentences were given in separate cases to Jiří Urbánek and Martin Kantor, and Alexej Fadejev saw his previous sentence tightened to 21 years by an appeals court.

Defense Czech government vows to raise defense spending by 2025

The Czech Republic's new government has vowed to spend 2 percent of its GDP on defense by 2025, according the new policy statement released by the government on Friday. It also plans to establish a defense fund to finance the Czech military.

"Given the worsening security environment, there is a need of investment in the defense capability of our nation," the government said in its policy statement. The government intends to present amendments including a change in public procurement law and constitutional amendments that will enable the government to more quickly deploy soldiers abroad.

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