Defense Minister to discuss establishing a U.S. military presence in Czechia

Plus: heavy snowfall leaves thousands without power, Easter food prices up sharply year-on-year, and more headlines to start the weekend.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 09.04.2022 12:26:00 (updated on 10.04.2022) Reading time: 6 minutes

Politics Defense Minister to discuss U.S. military presence in Czechia

Czech Minister of Defense Jana Černochová will meet her U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin in the United States after Easter, and she intends to initiate talks on establishing a U.S. military presence in the Czech Republic, writes Deník N. Černochová indicated that the Czech Republic might establish an agreement like neighbor Slovakia has with the United States, which allows for the U.S. military to use two bases in the country.

"I do not want to mention any particular details, but I think it could be important for us if some agreement were in the making," Černochová told Deník N. "We are exploring all avenues to secure our safety, to strengthen NATO's Eastern Flank, and to be able to face the kind of aggressive threat that Russia under Vladimir Putin is demonstrating now." According to Minister of Labor Marian Jurečka, speaking to CNN Prima this morning, bases in Přerov or Mošnov could be considered for U.S. military presence.

Weather Frost warning issued through Tuesday morning

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has issued a frost warning for much of the Czech Republic, in effect from 11:00 p.m. tonight through Tuesday morning. Low temperatures overnight could damage flowering trees, and gardeners with apricot, peach, plum and other types of fruit trees are advised to protect them during the night hours.

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According to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, temperatures between one and minus three degrees Celsius are forecast overnight, for much of the country, with extreme lows of down to minus five degrees. Experts recommend spraying flowering trees with mists of water during the early morning hours (before sunrise) to protect them from frost.

Money Czech fuel prices see second-highest rise in EU since invasion

Among EU states, only Poland has seen a higher increase in fuel prices than the Czech Republic following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to analysis prepared by iDnes.cz. The price of gasoline in the Czech Republic has risen by eighteen percent since February 24, while the price of diesel has risen by 28.6 percent over that span.

Germany, Austria, and Bulgaria have also seen significant increases in fuel prices over the past six weeks. Fuel prices in Hungary, Italy, and Malta have been least affected by the Russian invasion, with diesel prices in Italy and Hungary even dropping. According to experts, fuel prices will continue to rise for the foreseeable future.

CRIME Czech police record surge in losses caused by bicycle thefts in 2021

Bicycle thefts resulted in losses of 150 million crowns in the Czech Republic last year, according to police estimates. The losses represent an increase from the 134 million crowns reported in 2020 and 108 million crowns in 2019. The total number of reported bicycle thefts was 4,799 in 2021, though the actual number is likely to be higher as not all cases are reported to police.

"Police statistics show that most bicycles or e-bikes are stolen by burglary [as opposed to robbery]," Vlastimil Divoký of the insurance company ERV told local press. "So these are thefts from cellars, bike sheds, houses, or house corridors. Most of them are pre-planned events that are not prevented by a quality lock." Due to the high number of bicycle thefts, police in the Czech Republic are only able to investigate about twenty percent of reported cases.

WAR Activists protest Bucha massacre outside Russian Embassy in Prague

A group of activists protested the murder of civilians during massacres in Bucha and other Ukrainian locations occupied by Russian troops during a performance outside the Russian embassy in Prague on Saturday afternoon. Based on photos of victims in Bucha, participants lied on the ground motionless during the performance, some with their hands tied or covered in fake blood.

A follow-up event dedicated to the victims of the Russian aggression in Bucha and elsewhere in Ukraine was held at the memorial to Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko (1814-1841) at Prague's Kinský Square later in the day.

Saturday, April 9

Weather Snowfall in Karlovy Vary region leaves thousands without power

Heavy snowfall in the Czech Republic's Karlovy Vary region downed trees and power lines overnight, and about 3,000 residents are without power as of 11:00 a.m. Saturday morning, down from over 10,000 at 6:00 a.m. Throughout the night, firefighters reported to 54 cases caused by the weather events, removing dozens of trees from local roads. No injuries have been reported.

"At 6:00 a.m. there were 18 incidents with high voltage lines, and there were about 12,000 households without electricity," CEZ spokeswoman Soňa Holingerová told local media. "At 8:00 there were 6,000 of them and after 9:00 we are still working on 14 incidents on high voltage lines and there are about 2800 households without electricity."

Shopping Prices for Czech Easter ingredients up 22 percent year-on-year

Food items used in traditional Czech Easter recipes have risen in price by 22 percent from 2021 to 2022, according to analysis by Česká distribuční, which compared year-on-year prices advertised on local flyers and leaflets. According to the comparison, the price of semi-coarse flour has risen by the largest amount, and is up 57 percent to 17.9 crowns this year.

According to advertised prices, the average cost of medium-size eggs has also significantly risen this year, up 39 percent to 31.2 crowns for ten eggs. Prices for sugar and butter have also risen more than 30 percent year-on-year. Milk prices, meanwhile, have remained stable at 10.9 crowns per liter. Of the nine ingredients compared, baking powder was the only one to see a decrease in cost, down 15 percent to 1.65 crowns for a small package.

Transport Czechia may lower minimum driving age, says Transport Minister

The Czech Republic is considering lowering its minimum driving age by one year, according to Transport Minister Martin Kupka. The current driving age in the country is eighteen years old; the Ministry of Transport will propose lowering it to seventeen years old in a new package of changes that could take effect in 2024. Those driving at seventeen would need to do so under the supervision of a more experienced driver until they turn eighteen.

Additional changes in the proposal include a modification of the points system for infractions that would tighten penalties for more serious offenses and reduce those for less serious violations. According to Kupka, the new point system would be simpler, with three sets of infraction types running two, four, and six points each.

Energy Czech government to present project to end dependence on Russian energy

The Czech government will present a comprehensive five-year project within the next few weeks with the aim of reaching energy security and independence from Russian supplies. Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced the new project at his speech during the ODS congress this morning. The primary aim of the plan will be to set the Czech Republic free from dependence on Russian fossil fuels, the Prime Minister noted.

"The need to completely transform the Czech Republic's energy industry is also part of overall European security and economic changes," said Fiala, who is defending his position of ODS chairman at the congress. "This may soon touch every Czech household," Fiala added. He called long-term dependence on energy from Russia one of the biggest security risks for the Czech Republic.

Crime Czech police investigating role of Italian mafia in Czech tourism

Members of the Italian mafia have invested in tourism in the Czech Republic, and these activities are largely profitable for them, the Italian Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate said in a report covering the first six months of 2021 released on Friday. In addition, the Italian mafia uses accommodation facilities in the Czech Republic as shelter for its members hiding from law enforcement, says the report.

The Italian Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate has recorded activity from mafia groups out of Calabria, Sicily, Campania, and Apulia operating in the Czech Republic, the report said. Police have also uncovered large-scale activity of Italian mafia in Slovakia. "As revealed by several investigations, there are groups of Italian organised crime in the Czech Republic," the report states. "This is mainly in tourism, which allows them to achieve large profits."

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