As inflation rises, the Czech National Bank won't rule out steeper increases

More top headlines for Prague and the Czech Republic for Wednesday, January 12, 2022. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 12.01.2022 09:39:00 (updated on 12.01.2022) Reading time: 7 minutes

16:55 Prague Airport handled 4.4 million passengers last year

Prague's Václav Havel Airport handled almost 4.4 million passengers last year. This was an increase of almost a fifth compared to 2020, but still well below pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, over 17.8 million passengers went through the airport. Last year saw a total of 138 destinations flown to from Prague. Prague Airport announced data for 2021 today, saying it expects travel to grow next year but does not anticipate a full return to pre-crisis levels until 2026.

15:30 Czech municipality fines man for flying Czech-Roma flag

Ústí nad Labem city authorities have imposed a fine on a man who hoisted the Czech-Roma flag on the occasion of International Roma Day. Miroslav Brož flew the flag from his balcony last April, but will now have to pay a thousand-crown fine for violating the Act on the Use of State Symbols of the Czech Republic. The Czech-Roma flag is a controversial topic: designs for a flag exhibited in Prague in 2013 were treated as a violation of the integrity of the Czech national flag. Mr. Brož says he feels innocent of any wrongdoing in flying the flag last year.

15:20 National football team striker to trade in Czechia for Russia

Jan Kuchta, a forward for the Czech national football team, will leave his current club Slavia Prague for Lokomotiv Moscow. Upon completing a medical examination he will sign a four-and-a-half year contract with the Russian club. Kuchta is one of Czech football's top strikers, having scored 32 goals in 65 competitive matches in the last eighteen months. He has enjoyed great league and cup succes with Slavia Prague, currently the dominant force in Czech football. Lokomotiv Moscow are currently in sixth place in the Russian first division.

13:30 WWII bomber remain confirmed as belonging to Czechoslovak pilots

Analysis of the remains of a plane shot down over the Netherlands during the Second World War has confirmed that human remains belong to five Czechoslovak pilots. Jan Hejna, Vilém Konštatský, Alois Rozum, Leonhard Smrček and Karel Valach were killed in the downing of the plane. Until now, they were only ever listed as missing in official registers. Their remains will be buried with military honors in a British Commonwealth Graves Commission (CWGC) cemetery in the Netherlands later this year. The plane wreckage was discovered in June 2021 in a meadow near the Dutch village of Hollands Kroon. The machine belonged to the 311th Czechoslovak Squadron of the British Royal Air Force. Bone fragments, pieces of shoes and flight suits were also found on the site. The plane was one of 41 bombers which attacked Bremen on the night of June 22-23, 1941. On the return flight it was attacked and shot down by a German night fighter. One crew member survived, and was captured as a prisoner of war.

13:15 Czech inflation rose in December, further increases not ruled out

New data from the Czech Statistical Office shows that inflation in the Czech Republic rose to 6.6 per cent in December. This was the highest increase in prices since the financial crash of 2008. Inflation was one percentage point higher in December than had been forecasted by the Czech National Bank. Now, the ČNB is predicted a steep rise in inflation to 9 per cent in January. The bank is also refusing to rule out double-digit inflation "for several months at the beginning of this year." The increase in energy prices following the temporary waiver of VAT on electricity and gas is predicted to have a serious adverse effect on inflation.

12:30 New government makes unrealistic promises, says Babiš

Former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, now the leader of the Czech opposition, has criticized the new coalition government's policy program as unrealistic. ANO will not, therefore, support the new government in a vote of confidence to be held today. "We really cannot support a government that deliberately deceives citizens, promises what it can never fulfil, offering hackneyed phrases and empty clichés instead of concrete solutions," Babiš said. Babiš warned that new PM Petr Fiala is already laying the groundwork for hard austerity measures to come, claiming ANO had brought the Czech Republic into one of the best periods of its history.

10:10 Defense Ministry has unused money to spend this year

The Czech Defense Ministry has CZK 2.6 billion left over from its 2021 budget, most of which will be spent this year for carried-over investment plans, according to a spokesperson for the ministry. Under the ANO-led government, the ministry was repeatedly criticized for not using all the money at its disposal. The defense budget for 2021 was CZK 87.5 billion, CZK 84.9 billion of which was spent. The new Czech government has pledged to raise defense spending to meet the two per cent of GDP spending requirement set as part of the country's NATO membership; this would involve a significant increase in expenditures.

Lockdown Shirtless anti-Covid protests held in Prague

The Open Czechia protest group held a rally on Malostranské náměstí in Prague yesterday. Several hundred people gathered to protest against anti-pandemic measures and compulsory vaccination for selected professions and people over 60.

The rally was attended by a large number of students along with businesspeople in the catering, tourism and entertainment industries. Many of them stripped off their shirts while rallying against Covid measures; a reference to new Health Minister Vlastimil Válek’s previous statement that if mandatory vaccination was introduced, he would tie himself half-naked to the Czech parliament doors and not let politicians enter.

Development Bridge construction starts connecting Karlín and Holešovice

Construction work for a new bridge connecting the Prague districts of Karlín and Holešovice with the Štvanice island have officially begun. The works will see a new five-meter-wide footbridge built using ultra-high-strength concrete, to be completed by spring 2023.

The new bridge will make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to get from one bank of the Vltava to the other, while improving access to the green areas of Štvanice island. The bridge will meanwhile be a short walk away from the Vítkov tunnel, meaning large portions of Prague will benefit from the new connection. Construction works are being carried out by Skanska, with a budget of CZK 298 million.

EMergency Czech military jets transport bomb-threat plane to safety

Czech fighter jets escorted a passenger plane with a suspected bomb onboard to Warsaw on Monday night. The plane was heading from Italy to Poland across Czech air space. As the plane passed over the Czech Republic, information emerged about the possible presence of a bomb onboard the aircraft.

The bomb threat turned out to be fake. But Gripen fighter jets escorted the plane to Warsaw as the true nature of the threat remained uncertain. The intervention saw Gripen fighter pilots communicating with the passenger plane pilot to keep tabs on the situation. The Czech Republic keeps two Gripen jets in reserve for NATO missions, which include protecting the skies above NATO member states. The Gripens have to be able to take off within 15 minutes of the alert sounding at all times.

Good deed Generous ATM showers passers-by with cash

An ATM in Rhychnov nad Kněžnou started spewing money wildly last Friday, with a 55-year-old user finding herself showered with banknotes of a total value of CZK 144,000. In a good deed, the surprised passer-by took the extra banknotes to the police.

The woman was walking by when she heard strange noises coming from the ATM. On closer inspection, she saw that the ATM’s money dispenser was stuck open and that the machine was issuing banknote uncontrollably, in denominations of CZK 2,000, CZK 1,000, CZK 500 and CZK 200. After receiving the notes, the police returned the money to the bank.

Environment Farmers rally against subsidy changes in Prague

Czech farmers took to the streets of Prague yesterday to protest against changes in the agricultural subsidy scheme for the 2023-2027 period. The five-party government coalition is currently discussing the proposed changes. Police estimate that up to 4,500 people gathered to demonstrate outside the Czech Ministry of Agriculture in Nové Město.

The Ministry wants to cap farming subsidies for big agriculture businesses. It also wants to make subsidy schemes more focused on environmental protection. But the protestors say the government is trying to steal their money. Farmers are also unhappy about the conditions prevailing in certain types of farming: protestors carried a funeral wreath representing the death of Czech pig farming, claiming they lose CZK 800-1000 per animal. The protests were peaceful and no police intervention was required. 

Crime Police are investigating violent brawl in Prague store over mask refusal

A violent altercation which took place in a grocery store in Prague’s Smíchov district at the beginning of December last year is now being investigated by local police. The fight took place after a man arrived at the store without a face mask and started shopping. A security guard warned him that he could only enter wearing a face mask.

The man ignored the warning. The security guard then stood in his way and a quarrel broke out, leading to a fistfight. The mask refuser came out on top; the security guard had to seek medical treatment for a broken jaw, requiring the insertion of two titanium plates and six screws.

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