News in brief for April 26: Russian imperialism threatens national security, says Czech ForMin

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Wednesday, April 26, 2023, updated regularly to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 26.04.2023 08:03:00 (updated on 27.04.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

POLITICS Pavel criticizes govt. over Czech Post closures

During his trip to Liberec today, President Petr Pavel criticized the government’s handling of Czech Post's restructuring. According to Pavel, the state poorly communicated to other Czech regions the full details of the sweeping changes to the state postal company, which will see 300 of its branches closed nationwide this year.

He noted that the government had not consulted with Czechia’s mayors and governors about the closures, and said he would raise his grievances with Prime Minister Petr Fiala next week.

FOREIGN AID Czechia to train over 20 Ukranian pilots

Czechia will train around 25 Ukrainian transport pilots in Czechia this year, at a cost of CZK 22 million to the country, Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavský announced today. 

This project will help ensure the continuity of training for Ukrainian transport pilots who cannot undergo flight training in their home country at present. The pilots are currently part of the National Aviation University in Kyiv. Czechia is already training Ukrainian soldiers on domestic soil, and plans to do so next year too.

EMPLOYMENT Czech Labor Ministry plans change in definition of illegal work

The Czech government this afternoon approved a bill that changes the legal definition of illegal work in Czechia. According to Labor Minister Marian Jurečka, this planned change will increase the fines for employers who illegally hire workers and employees working without the required documents.

The bill also makes employment agencies have compulsory bankruptcy insurance and specifies a maximum amount of time that an employee can work for an agency – up to three years in a five-year period. The Labor Ministry also believes that agency workers should receive the same protection as employees of other companies that become insolvent.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Government approves U.S.-Czechia defense agreement

The Czech government has this afternoon approved a defense cooperation agreement with the U.S., allowing for troops from the country to be present in Czechia. The agreement outlines the conditions for cooperation with the U.S. armed forces, but does not address the specific stay of U.S. soldiers or the establishment of a U.S. base on Czech territory, which would require separate parliamentary approval. 

The arrangement must be approved by the Czech Senate and then signed by President Petr Pavel. The U.S. has already supported Czechia’s military via financial assistance.

CRIME Illegal immigration into Czechia rises 40 percent

Statistics from the Czech foreign police reveal a 40.6 percent year-on-year increase in illegal immigration into Czecha during the first three months of 2023, with 2,658 foreigners found staying or entering illegally.

The rise is mainly due to illegal stays by Ukrainians and Moldovans who wrongly believed they had temporary protection. There were also 207 cases of illegal transit migration detected, up by 8 percent annually. Aside from Ukrainians and Moldovans, Syrians, Turks, and Moroccans constituted the majority of illegal immigration into Czechia.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Czech president hits back in spat with Russian foreign minister

President Petr Pavel told journalists today that it “made no sense” to comment on Tuesday’s words of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who criticized Pavel’s prior comments on Russia and China. Lavrov told Pavel that he was not acting like a normal politician.

The Czech president said that many statements made by Russian representatives in recent years were either lies or distorted facts. He also retorted by saying that Russia in the past few years has not been behaving like a normal state at all.

AGRICULTURE University dean – banned substances don't make wheat poisonous

University dean at the Czech University of Life Sciences Josef Soukup has said that the presence of an unauthorized substance in an agricultural product does not necessarily mean it is poisonous or of lower quality.

This statement was made following the discovery of a prohibited pesticide in one of the shipments of grain from Ukraine to Slovakia, which has since banned many food imports from Ukraine. Czechia announced last week it would not ban imports from Ukraine, despite some farmers’ protestations.

LEGAL Family of comatose boy reach settlement with hospital

The Pardubice Region Hospital has agreed on an out-of-court settlement with the family of a comatose child, who fell into a coma due to the hospital’s negligence. 

In 2017, eight-year-old Adam underwent a routine tonsil operation at the hospital. Four days after the procedure, while still hospitalized, he suffered severe bleeding from the mouth. Preventable delays from nurses and doctors at Pardubice led the child to fall into a coma. The family had originally sought CZK 22 million in compensation, whereas the hospital offered CZK 15.5 million. The settlement – officially undisclosed – is thought to be between these sums.

CONTROVERSY Far-right Italian Senate member's visit sparks outrage

Ignazio La Russa, Chairman of the Italian Senate and member of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, visited Czechia on April 25, which is celebrated in Italy as the national holiday of liberation from Nazism and fascism. His visit has sparked outrage in Italy due to its timing, with historians, commentators, and members of the opposition criticizing La Russa's decision to visit on this particular day.

He toured the Small Fortress in Terezin, a former Gestapo prison, and paid tribute to Jan Palach, a Czech student who set himself on fire in 1969 in protest against the Soviet occupation. La Russa's statements ahead of Italy's Liberation Day, which were critical of the Resistance's actions and the absence of anti-fascism in the Italian constitution, also drew criticism.

POLITICS Czech ForMin says Russian imperialism a threat to Czech security

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský has stated that Russian imperialism must be eradicated because it poses a threat to the security of the Czech Republic. In an interview with Novaya Gazeta Europe, Lipavsky also said that Ukraine's freedom and sovereignty are closely linked to the freedom of the Czech Republic.

Lipavský noted that Russian propaganda has been making similar claims about Ukraine for years, and said that if Ukraine fell, the Czech Republic would be the next target. The Czech Republic has banned Russian tourists from entering the country and has a program to help the Russian opposition.

Sports Čech appointed to the UEFA Football Council

Former Czech national team goalkeeper Petr Čech has been appointed to the UEFA Football Council, along with 23 other former star players and coaches. The council will provide an independent voice on football topics such as rules, referees, the video referee project, the match calendar, and player behavior.

Other council members include Zinédine Zidane, Paolo Maldini, Luis Figo, Rio Ferdinand, and Philipp Lahm. Čech's appointment is seen as a success for Czech football, and the chairman of the Football Association of the Czech Republic hopes to coordinate with Čech to benefit Czech football.

GOVERNMENT Ministry of Education nomination confirmed

The STAN movement has proposed Mikuláš Bek, the current Minister for European Affairs, be appointed as the new Minister of Education in the Czech Republic, replacing Vladimír Balaš who resigned due to health reasons. Meanwhile, Martin Dvořák has been proposed to replace Bek in his current position.

This would make Bek the third Minister of Education in the current government led by Prime Minister Petr Fiala, which has been in power for 16 months. Bek, who is also a senator and former rector of Masaryk University, has stated that his priorities will include improving the availability of primary and secondary schools.

culture Two FAMU films selected for Cannes

Two short films from the Prague Film and Television Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts will compete at the Cannes Film Festival's La Cinef section. Electra, directed by Darja Kaščejevová, and Osmý den, directed by Petr Pylypčuk, represent the Czech Republic in the competition.

Electra is an intimate story about the relationship between a daughter and a father, while Osmý den is inspired by Pylypčuk's personal experience growing up in a strict religious sect. In addition to the two competitive films, FAMU will also present the non-competitive film Gone by Piotr Jasiński in the Cannes Focus Script program.

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