Czech daily news roundup: Friday, December 3, 2021

Record Hollywood investment in the Czech Republic, border shootings case reopened, and Czech cancer research company gets a financial boost. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 03.12.2021 09:36:00 (updated on 03.12.2021) Reading time: 7 minutes

19:15 Police detain 53 illegal migrants in Břeclav area

Czech police detained 53 illegal migrants in four cars on Thursday and Friday in the Břeclav border district neighboring Slovakia and Austria, along with all four drivers. A car driven by a foreigner with nine migrant passengers in the vehicle forced its way through two police barriers in an unsuccessful attempt to escape. The driver eventually forced his way through the barrier and was stopped later, trapped in-between two police cars. Friday afternoon, the South Moravia police stopped another three vehicles and detained 44 migrants, mainly from Syria and including three children.

18:08 Poll: One-fifth of Czechs are anti-vaxxers

Some 19 percent of Czechs reject coronavirus vaccination, while 14 percent have firmly decided that they will never be inoculated and six percent are still hesitant about vaccination, according to a November poll conducted by the STEM polling institute. In comparison, mandatory vaccination is supported by 43 percent of the polled, but the same number is against compulsory inoculation. The vaccinated expressed great interest in the third, booster dose. So far, health professionals have administered about 13.69 million doses of the vaccine. About 6.39 million Czechs have complete vaccination and over one million have the booster dose. Roughly three-quarters of Czechs have received at least the first dose or plan on vaccination. The remaining of the polled are either clearly skeptical or uncertain.

17:35 Libel claims against Czech news server dismissed

Czech police will not launch criminal proceedings against the authors of the Seznam zprávy server's article about Deputy PM Jan Hamáček's planned trip to Moscow, the server wrote today and the police organized crime unit confirmed to CTK. Police have shelved the criminal complaint that Hamáček, who is also the interior minister and until recently the leader of the junior government Social Democrats, filed against Seznam zprávy reporters in May. In his complaint, Hamacek accused the reporters of libel and alarm mongering.

16:39 Czech aid for Polish border crisis agreed

Poland has accepted an offer of aid from the Czech government to assist in the unfolding migrant crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border. The Czech Ministry of Defense announced Poland’s decision to accept the aid, with negotiations starting on the specific support to be provided. It’s thought the deployment of army engineers at the border is the most likely form of aid, although deploying army resources would require the consent of parliament. The move comes as Warsaw tries to deal with a migrant crisis which it claims was instigated by the Belarusian regime of Alexander Lukashenko.

15:00 President Zeman has no Covid symptoms

The head of the Presidential Office, Vratislav Mynář, says President Miloš Zeman has no Covid symptoms and is keen to press ahead with the formation of the new government. Mynář said the President is able to work as normal, despite testing positive for Covid last Thursday. Zeman is currently meeting ministerial candidates and wants to speak with new Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala after these appointments are completed, which is likely to be either next weekend or by the start of the following week. Zeman has expressed a wish to have the new government in place by mid-December.


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14:45 Minister of Labor candidate wants fast pension reform

Christian Democrat leader Marian Jurečka met with President Miloš Zeman today to discuss his aims for his prospective role as Minister of Labor in the new government. After the meeting, Jurečka said he would like to achieve changes to the Czech pension system within the next two years. His goals include raising old-age pensions for parents and pushing through changes to ensure that pensions increase depending on the number of children raised by the pension holder. The monthly old-age pension is already set to increase by CZK 500 per raised child in 2023, though this bonus will be capped at CZK 1,500.

12:12 Court investigating subsidy for firm of Presidential Office head

The prosecutor general has filed an administrative lawsuit against the Finance Ministry's decision that Czech Presidential Office head Vratislav Mynář's firm need not return a CZK 6-million subsidy for a boarding house the Prosecutor General's Office told CTK today. The Regional Court in Ostrava, north Moravia, will now decide on the administrative lawsuit. Mynář's firm received the subsidy for the reconstruction of a boarding house in Osvetimany, southeast Moravia, in 2011 which police say harms the financial interests of the European Union. Investigators and an inspection from the regional subsidy office claim that Mynar did not state in his application that the same facility had previously received a subsidy from the Education Ministry. Mynář denies having committed any crime.

11:51 Pre-1989 shooting involving top Communist officials re-opened

Prosecutors will reopen the case of the pre-1989 top Communist officials Lubomir Strougal and Vratislav Vajnar on suspicion of abuse of power over a shooting at the Czechoslovak borders that killed or wounded people, the Constitutional Court (US) decided today. Strougal, 97, was the Czechoslovak prime minister from 1970-1988 and Vajnar, 91, was the interior minister from 1983-1988. Prosecutors originally halted their prosecution, arguing they both suffered from a mental illness that prevented them from understanding the criminal proceedings. However, the US canceled the previous decision by the Prague Municipal Public Prosecutor's Office and ordered that it must decide on the case and that new expert opinions on the suspects' mental health must be given. The case is filed by the families of Germans wounded or killed at the Czechoslovak border, citizens of East Germany who attempted to cross the Iron Curtain at the border of Communist Czechoslovakia.

Morning news briefing

Czech Republic sees unprecedented Hollywood investment

Despite the Covid pandemic, more Hollywood film productions are being made in the Czech Republic than ever before. Extraction 2, starring Chris Hemsworth, is now being shot in Prague, following several huge productions this year including The Gray Man, starring Ryan Gosling and predicted to be Netflix’s most expensive production ever.

Next year will see even more Hollywood investment, and according to the volume of orders for Hollywood filmmakers to shoot in Prague, the current period is the strongest ever. The Czech State Fund for Cinematography is calling for increased incentives to capitalize on this unprecedented interest. Some sources claim a high-budget film adaptation of the horror story Nosferatu, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, star of The Queen’s Gambit, could be the next major movie to be shot in Prague.

Christmas spirit Prague 2 lends helping hand to Christmas market vendors

Traders who had to close their Christmas market stalls on Náměstí Míru due to the government’s pandemic restrictions have found sympathy in the local authorities. Prague 2 town hall bought almost 300 packages containing small gifts, wine, sweets, biscuits and handicrafts from the vendors, to be presented to employees and clients of the Center for Social Services as well as in primary schools.

Deputy Mayor of Prague 2 Alexandra Udženija said “every day the Christmas markets are closed is another huge blow for tradesmen and small business owners. We didn’t hesitate to help them out a little, by buying small gifts for employees of the Center for Social Services, as well as for teachers. At the same time, we made seniors happy. Providing help while making people happy; for me, that is the Christmas spirit.”

Investment Czech biotech start-up gets CZK 7.1 billion boost

Sotio, a Czech biotechnology company researching original cancer treatments, has received funding of CZK 7.1 billion from the PPF investment group. The money will go towards the expansion and development of Sotio’s product portfolio, the launch of new clinical trials, and further developments by the end of 2023.

Sotio’s key objective is to bring an original cancer drug to the market; such a scientific breakthrough would bring huge financial gains for the company. In order for such a drug to go to market, it must first go through three clinical trials, an expensive and demanding process. New funds will be used to carry out trials for the company’s SOT101 flagship product, which stimulates the immune system by activating white blood cells to kill cancer cells. New products will meanwhile enter the first phase of trials.

International relations Petřín Tower lights up in colors of the UAE

The City of Prague celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Arab Emirates by lighting by Petřín Tower in the colors of the UAE. The Czech Embassy in the Emirates requested the move, and Prague is also reacting to a similar move by the UAE in 2019, which illuminated an Abu Dhabi skyscraper in the colors of the Czech flag.

Coincidentally, the flag of the UAE was designed by Abdullah Al Maainah, who was the UAE’s ambassador to the Czech Republic until 2020. Last year, Petřín Tower was lit up in support of Belarusian freedom fighters and neighboring Austria after terrorist attacks in Vienna.

Czech history Olomouc experts recreate synagogue destroyed by Nazis

Experts from the Department of Geoinformatics at Olomouc’s Palacký University have created a detailed 3D model of the former synagogue which stood in the center of Olomouc until being burned down by Nazi occupiers in 1939. The model was created using a 3D printer, and will serve as a mold for a bronze model of the synagogue to be installed in the city’s Palach Square.

The Jewish community of Olomouc is behind the project, which is being financially support by city authorities. The idea to create a memorial to the synagogue came about in 2017 during the reconstruction of a car park in Palach Square on the site of the former synagogue. The production of the current plastic model took 2,300 hours of 3D printing to complete. It is hoped that the final bronze monument will be put in place within the next year.

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