Czech daily news roundup: Friday, January 7, 2022

Polish ambassador in Prague dismissed over Turów comments, Czech Mattoni founder's descendent dies, popular Czech fairytale star accused of sexual abuse. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 07.01.2022 09:39:00 (updated on 07.01.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

12:40 Czech defence spending to meet NATO expectations by 2025

The Czech Republic will meet its two per cent defense spending target by 2025, the new government promised in the policy statement released on its website today. The Czech Republic has long been criticized for failing to spend enough on defense within its agreements with the NATO international military alliance. The new government wants to establish a defense fund to finance the military. It will also propose some amendments including a change in the public procurement law and legislative changes to allow the more rapid deployment of troops abroad.

12:35 New government to focus on EU and NATO relations

The introduction to the new Czech government's policy program, published on its webpage today, promises the stabilization of public finances and an orientation towards the EU and NATO. Education, support for business, environmental action, housing reform, digitization, science and research are other spheres identified as crucial in the document. To cut unnecessary state expenditures, the government also aims to streamline the operations of the civil service while improving the overall tone of political debate.

11:40 Road collisions killed 470 in the Czech Republic in 2021

Traffic accidents claimed 470 lives in the Czech Republic in 2021. This was an increase of 11 on the number of people killed on the roads in 2020, but still the second lowest death toll since records began in 1961. The last two years have seen significantly reduced traffic levels due to the Covid pandemic. Restrictions on free movement, home working and a lack of tourist travel have all contributed to quieter roads. A total of 99,332 road accidents were recorded, 4,538 more than the previous year, with total material damage of CZK 6.7 billion. 35,727 driving offences were committed. The number of seriously injured people dropped to an all-time low at 1,624, while 20,581 light injuries were recorded. August was the deadliest month, seeing 55 deaths on the road.

Politics Polish ambassador in Prague dismissed over Turów comments

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has launched the dismissal process of Polish ambassador to the Czech Republic. He said the Miroslaw Jasinski made extremely irresponsible statements about the Turów coal mine dispute between Warsaw and Prague.

The Turów dispute broke out over Poland’s decision to keep mining at the site despite an EU order to shut down and complaints from Czechs living across the border about decreased drinking water levels. The Polish ambassador to Prague gave an interview to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle saying that empathy, understanding and willingness to have a dialogue are lacking in the dispute over Turów, especially on the Polish side.


RIP Great grandson of Czech Mattoni mineral water founder dies

Rudolf Heinrich Mattoni, the great grandson and one of the last remaining direct descendants of Heinrich Mattoni, the Czech-born founder of the Mattoni mineral water brand, has died in New York aged 94. Rudolf Mattoni was a renowned American biologist and former California University professor. He last visited the Czech Republic in 2016, when the Mattoni Museum opened in Kyselka, the town near Karlovy Vary where the brand originated.

Rudolf Mattoni spent several years as a board member of the charity company focusing on the renewal of the dilapidated spa complex in Kyselka, which was also established by his great grandfather. The Mattoni 1873 group employs around 3,200 people and is the biggest distributor of non-alcoholic beverages in Central Europe.

#MeToo Popular Czech fairytale star accused of historical sex abuse

Pavel Trávníček has been accused of historical sexual abuse against a 15-year-old girl. The star of favorite Czech fairytale Tří oříšky pro Popelku (Three Nuts for Cinderella) is alleged to have forced the girl to give him sexual gratification against her will in the year 2000.

Although over two decades have passed since the alleged attack, it is not certain that the case would be time-barred. The actor has not yet responded to the allegations. Expert lawyers say that if the events were proven to be as the accuser states, Trávníček could face a lengthy jail term. But they also admit that the chances of the actor being convicted of a crime 22 years after the event took place are very low due to the difficulty in providing definitive proof. Trávníček recently appeared as a contestant in the latest series of popular Czech TV show Star Dance.

Kazakhstan Czech Parliament criticizes Russia’s entry into Kazakh conflict

Czech politicians have condemned the entry of troops from a post-Soviet military alliance led by Russia into Kazakhstan to help quell civil unrest in the country. Czech Senate foreign committee chair Pavel Fischer said the move is reminiscent of the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Kazakhstan is seeing its biggest anti-government protests in over a decade. The conflict is already thought to have led to dozens of deaths of civilians and police officers, as well as hundreds of wounded protestors. The Kazakh President has blamed the chaos on foreign terrorists and requested aid from a Russia-led military bloc, which has already started sending special forces to the country. Fischer said the goal of Russian forces into the country would be a “normalization” of the situation; a term referencing the period of hard-line communist rule in Czechoslovakia after the Soviet occupation.

Justice Illegally sterilized Czech women can now apply for compensation

For decades in the 20th and 21st centuries, hundreds of Czech women, mostly from the country’s Roma population, were subjected to illegal sterilization. Now, the Czech state will pay out compensation to those who can prove they suffered from this treatment, with one-time payments of CZK 300,000 available. The scheme means the Czech state could pay out up to CZK 120 million to victims sterilized without informed consent between 1966 and 2012.

Activists have called the compensation a moral victory, recognizing the injustice of sterilizations thought to have been driven by systemic racism against the Roma community. Women often signed documents given consent to be sterilized under the pretense that they were consenting to a temporary contraceptive, later finding out the procedure was irreversible. It’s thought around 300 to 500 women may be entitled to the new government compensation scheme.

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