News in brief for April 19: Police investigate tragic fall at Prague's National Theatre

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, updated daily to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 19.04.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 19.04.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

HEALTH Czechia unveils plans to battle drug addiction

The Czech government this afternoon detailed its Addiction Policy Action Plan 2023-25,  which includes investing up to CZK 40 million in addiction-treatment research. The focus of the plan will mainly be on substitution treatment for addiction to stimulants like methamphetamine, as well as using psychedelics as a form of psychotherapy.

Additionally, the National Institute of Mental Health has published research on using a substance derived from psilocybin mushrooms to treat depression. A control group of patients in Czechia who suffer from depression is currently taking microdoses of psychedelics as a form of alternative treatment.

SECURITY Govt. recommends promotion of Czech counter-intelligence head

The Czech government approved today a proposal that recommends President Petr Pavel promote civilian counter-intelligence service (BIS) chief Michal Koudelka to the rank of brigadier general, Labor Minister Marian Jurečka told reporters this afternoon.

Former President Milos Zeman rejected such a proposal seven times in the past, but his successor Pavel reiterated on Monday that he would promote Koudelka if the cabinet proposed it. He is therefore likely to promote the BIS head in May.

diplomacy Fiala ends Indonesia visit, arrives in Singapore

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala arrived in Singapore this afternoon, where he will meet his counterpart Lee Hsien Loong and Halimah Yacob on Thursday. According to Fiala, the Czech Republic wants to develop cooperation with Singapore in cyber technology, cybersecurity, digitalization, and artificial intelligence. 

Fiala aims to "politically advance the economic relations between the Czech Republic and Singapore,” he said today. He finished up his Indonesia trip earlier today, where he saw a presentation of Indonesia’s planned new capital.

ECONOMY Czech inflation rate almost double that of EU average

Inflation in the EU fell to 8.3 percent in March, dropping substantially from 9.9 percent in February, according to a Eurostat data release today.

At 16.5 percent, Czechia’s rate of inflation is thus much higher than the EU average. Only Hungary (25.6 percent) and Latvia (17.2 percent) have higher inflation rates in the EU than Czechia.

The lowest rate of inflation is registered by Luxembourg, where it was 2.9 percent in March, followed by Spain (3.1 percent) and the Netherlands (4.5 percent). EU inflation is still higher year on year – in March 2022 it was 7.8 percent.

POLITICS Zeman starts work in new Prague office

Former President Miloš Zeman today began working in his new office in Bubeneč, Prague 6. He has said he intends to work in the office one day a week, meeting visitors and conducting interviews there in a more relaxes life after mainstream politics.

By law, the former president is entitled to the running of an office and an assistant's salary of CZK 50,000 per month. His wife, Ivana, will be his assistant. The Friens of Miloš Zeman association will cover the office rent.

PRAGUE Protesters continue demonstration outside govt. building

Dozens of demonstrators against the government of Prime Minister Petr Fiala have gathered outside the Chamber of Deputies building in central Prague since this morning. They are voicing their anger at the high cost of living in Czechia and the state’s role in the Russia-Ukraine war.

According to police, the situation is calm and no violence has been reported. The protest has been organized by the Law, Respect, Expertise (PRO) party, which has also set up petition stands outside the Chamber of Deputies building. Some of the demonstrators spent Monday, and also Sunday, nights camped outside the building.

diplomacy President Pavel to meet Stoltenberg at NATO today

The former Czech Chief of Staff, Petr Pavel, will return to NATO headquarters to discuss strengthening the defense capabilities of the military bloc during Russian aggression in Ukraine. He will meet with NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, who is preparing for the NATO summit in Vilnius in July.

The summit will discuss further increases in defense spending, with the Czech Republic promising to reach the threshold of 2 percent of GDP earmarked for defense in 2024. Pavel will also meet with leaders of EU institutions in Brussels, including Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel, and Roberta Metsola, and visit the Czech section of the European School.

CRIME Fatal fall from New Stage walkway being investigated by police

A 48-year-old man, who was later identified as an employee of the National Theater, died after a fall from a height on Divadelní Street in the center of Prague yesterday. Police tried to resuscitate the man but were unsuccessful. The circumstances surrounding the death are still being investigated by criminal investigators, with the possibility of the incident being a murder, suicide, or unfortunate accident.

An autopsy has been ordered, and traffic was diverted to Masaryk's embankment during the investigation. Social media comments suggest that the man was a stage technician with two children at home. The man apparently fell from the Nové scéna walkway. The tragedy occurred following the Magnesia Litera awards party, which took place on Monday, April 17.

event Fire breaks out by Brno station

Several stationary train wagons suddenly caught fire at Brno's Dolní nádraží (Lower Railway Station) Tuesday evening, causing an estimated CZK 750,000 worth of damage. The fire broke out around 7 p.m. and was extinguished within an hour. 

No people were injured, and the South Moravia fire department has said that the cause of the fire is unknown. It is likely, however, that the wagons were set on fire intentionally by a third party, or due to negligence. The fire affected the Brno-Jihlava and Brno-Židlochovice connections, where trains were delayed for about two hours. Normal service has now been resumed.

DIPLOMACY Czech MP caught smoking on plane

Reports surfacing Tuesday night reveal that a Czech member of parliament (MP) was prohibitively smoking on board a plane that carried a Czech government delegation. This had prompted the captain of the plane to demand the MP in question – named as Marek Benda – to stop, otherwise the plane would have needed to make an emergency landing. The incident occurred during a governmental trip to Taiwan in late March.

Benda has said that he was smoking an electronic cigarette on board the plane – these are also prohibited on aircraft.

government Parties unable to reach consensus on parental-allowance rise

The parties in Czechia’s ruling coalition have been unable to reach full agreement about increasing the size of the country’s financial allowance for parents.

During a meeting of the parties’ representatives Tuesday, the Pirate Party called for a CZK 50,000 increase in the amount parents could claim from the state in the first four years of their child’s life – from CZK 300,000 to CZK 350,000. Minister of Labor Marian Jurečka of the Christian Democrats has recently stated that he wants to push for an increase in the parental allowance this year.

MILITARY Czech volunteer seriously hurt while fighting in Ukraine

Another Czech volunteer has been severely injured while fighting in Ukraine, reported Tuesday. According to information published so far, a Czech man almost lost one leg, although this was saved and his life is presently not in danger. The victim has been unofficially identified as somebody with the alias of “Cohen The Barbarian” on Twitter.

According to information from the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, two Czech volunteers have so far died in Ukraine fighting against the Russian army, with one of the men killed last month.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more