News in brief for April 13: Czech currency at record high, Babiš awaits a new trial

Top headlines for the Czech Republic on Thursday, April 13, 2023, updated daily to keep you up to speed. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 13.04.2023 07:46:00 (updated on 13.04.2023) Reading time: 7 minutes

PRague castle Czech president and his wife welcome Roma students

President Petr Pavel and his wife Eva received a group of Roma students at Prague Castle, on April 8. According to him, they are an example of overcoming prejudices for both the Roma community and the majority society. He called prejudice one of the dangers of our time. He said this at the beginning of the meeting.

The government representative for Roma minority affairs, Lucie Fuková, accompanied the Roma high school and university students. She said that thanks to education, Roma and other ethnic groups can succeed and coexistence can improve. The Roma anthem was performed at the event.

weather Heavy rains expected across Czechia from Friday

Meteorologists have warned of heavy and persistent rainfall across most of the Czech Republic, with the central and southern parts of the country expected to receive the most precipitation. This may result in the rivers reaching the first flood stage, particularly in areas such as the Bohemian-Moravian highlands and south-eastern and south-western Bohemia.

In addition, snowfall of up to fifteen centimeters is expected in some mountainous regions, which may cause traffic disruptions. The rainfall is expected to continue throughout the week, with occasional rain and showers forecasted for the coming days and into the beginning of next week.

SOCIETY Seven in 10 Czech women say sex without clear consent is criminal

Seventy percent of Czech women aged over 15 think that sex without explicit consent should be assessed as a criminal offense and one-third of respondents believe in criminal punishment of such offenses, shows a new poll conducted by the NMS Market Research (NMS) for the Konsent organization.

According to Konsent, every year about 12,000 rapes are committed in the Czech Republic and 90 percent of the victims are women, but only 5 to 10 percent of cases are reported to the police.

economy Czechia records lowest inflation increase in almost 12 months

Data released this morning by the Czech Statistical Office shows that inflation slowed to 15 percent year on year in March, a slight decline from the February level of 16.7 percent. This is the lowest figure since April 2022.

Goods and services continued to rise year on year, by 17 and 11.7 percent respectively. Prices in the transport sector managed to decline marginally on an annual basis. Cheaper fuel prices are said to be the main driver behind the slowdown in headline inflation.

CONSUMER NEWS Prague Zoo bumps up ticket prices from today

Prague Zoo will from today raise its entrance fees. Adult prices at the entrance will increase from CZK 250 to CZK 330, whereas those for children will jump from CZK 200 to CZK 250. Ticket purchases online will remain the same, at CZK 300 for adults and CZK 200 for children.

According to the zoo’s management, the change to entrance fees should mean an increase in the garden's income by about CZK 50 million this year. The zoo is among the best-rated in Europe, bringing in 1.42 million visitors in 2022.

WAR Pavel responds to Russian execution video

President Petr Pavel said Wednesday that Russian soldiers’ brutality would be directly comparable to members of the terrorist organization Islamic State, if the authenticity of a circulating beheading video is confirmed.

The video, which shows the graphic execution of a Ukrainian soldier in the hands of Russian troops, was addressed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Twitter. He also said that the world must see this footage, and called on world leaders to respond. Read more in our article here.

ECONOMY Czech currency strongest against euro in almost 15 years

The Czech koruna is currently at its strongest against the euro in almost 15 years and against the dollar in over a year, according to data from the Patria Online server. The exchange rate to the euro is at its lowest since July 2008, with the euro strengthening by 15 hellers to 23.34 CZK/EUR compared to the previous close. Against the dollar, the koruna has improved by 27 hellers to 21.26 CZK/USD, reaching its strongest exchange rate since February 2022.

The koruna has been gradually strengthening against both currencies since last fall, despite short-term weakening in March. Unemployment in the Czech Republic also dropped to 3.7 percent in March compared to February, which has contributed to the koruna's strength.

Environment Czechia using up its natural resources, says Greenpeace

Greenpeace stated in a news release that the demand for natural resources from the population in the Czech Republic has surpassed the country's capacity to renew them this year. Greenpeace called on the government to protect natural resources and emphasized the need to phase out coal burning, a major source of carbon emissions and environmental footprint.

The government has pledged to create conditions for coal exit by 2033, but Greenpeace expressed concern about a decision to extend the mining permit for the Bilina mine until 2035. According to the Industry and Trade Ministry, the government aims to stop coal burning, not mining. The Environment Ministry highlighted the importance of phasing out coal burning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is preparing major political documents to achieve emission reduction goals.

Corruption More politicians implicated in Dosimeter case

Former deputy Marek Šnajdr of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) has been accused in the Dosimeter corruption case related to the General Health Insurance Company (VZP), according to unnamed sources cited by Seznam Zprávy and Deník N. The police have reportedly started investigating five or four other individuals in connection with the case.

The main branch of the case involves an organized group led by businessman Michal Redl and former Prague deputy mayor Petr Hlubuček, who allegedly influenced tenders for bribes in the Prague Public Transport Company (DPP). Šnajdr, along with other accused individuals, has declined to comment on the matter. Over ten people, including Redl, have been previously prosecuted in the case.

politics Prosecutor appeals Babiš acquittal

Public prosecutor Jaroslav Šaroch appealed on Wednesday the acquittal of former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his former aide Jana Nagyová in a fraud case over the granting of an EU subsidy to the Čapí hnízdo farm and conference center in 2008, Prague Metropolitan Prosecutor's Office spokesman Ales Cimbala said.

Babiš and Nagyová were both cleared of all charges in January. The Čapí hnízdo case refers to Babiš, who is the head of the opposition ANO movement, being accused of illegally and purposefully claiming a EUR 2 million (roughly CZK 50 million) subsidy from the EU for the construction of a multi-purpose complex named Čapí hnízdo, situated south of Prague. 

Politics Czech govt. approves reduction in number of post branches

The Czech government has approved a regulation reducing the minimum number of branches that Czech Post must operate from 3,200 to 2,900, in an effort to cut losses and address declining client interest. Czech Post has already published a preliminary list of 300 branches to be cancelled, with the goal of saving around CZK 700 million per year.

However, postal unions criticize the move, citing concerns about job cuts, increased stress on employees, and potential deterioration in the quality and availability of postal services. The cancellation of branches is part of a planned transformation of Czech Post, with a government plan expected to be presented in the middle of the year.

military Czech army quells mobilization rumors

Spokesman of the General Staff Ivo Zelinka said the news about the draft exercises planned across the Czech Republic caused unnecessary emotions, Seznam Zprávy reports. “It's the most boring exercise the army holds every year,” Zelinka said, adding that the difference this year is that the exercise will happen at once in all the Czech regions, whereas in 2022 it happened gradually.

The Czech Republic can resort to military conscription if a state of national emergency or a state of war were declared. Zelinka said that 200 active reserve soldiers and doctors that would “realistically participate in the draft” will also be part of the exercise. 

international relations Czechia strengthens cooperation with Singapore

Marcel Bednar, president of the Czech-Singapore Chamber of Commerce, announced that Czech Transport Minister Martin Kupka, accompanied by a delegation of 60 Czech businessmen, attended the Czech-Singapore Business Forum on Wednesday. The forum also saw the participation of 160 Singaporean businesses, which made it the largest event of its kind in the history of Czech-Singaporean relations.

“We want to strengthen cooperation in transport, logistics, space activities, and modern technologies,” Kupka tweeted. Next week, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala will fly to Singapore next week to hold talks with his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong.

society LGBTQ+ couples can enter civil partnerships at any registry office

The government has given the green light to an amendment to the Act on Registers, which will enable same-sex couples to enter into a registered partnership at any Czech registry office. Until now, it has only been possible to do so at 14 selected offices. The parliament still needs to approve the amendment before it becomes law.

Minister of the Interior Vít Rakušan tweeted that this was a step forward in the digitization of state administration, and that, while registry books in paper form will continue to exist, the information they contain will also be part of a centralized information system.

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