News in brief for Aug. 10: Top headlines for Czechia on Thursday

Police chief faces more backlash on rape statements, weak tornadoes hit Czechia and more headlines for Aug. 10, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 10.08.2023 08:00:00 (updated on 10.08.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

DOMESTIC AFFAIRS Czech interior minister: Police chief's apology is 'enough'

Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan affirmed this afternoon that Czech Police President Martin Vondrášek's apology for his comments on fictional rapes, published earlier this week, was acceptable and sufficient. The pair met today to discuss the matter among other things; Rakušan characterized the meeting as routine and normal. 

"I have read Vondrášek's statement in today's Právo, and it fully corresponds to what I said earlier," the Czech interior minister noted. Rakušan said the apology was “enough” for him and that no further action would be taken.

CYBERSECURITY Czech internet fraud almost doubles in second quarter

In the second quarter of this year, internet fraud surged by 81 percent in Czechia, according to new data from the Czech Avast cybersecurity firm. Fraud comprised over 75 percent of blocked threats on local computers. Globally, unique blocked attacks rose by 24 percent, marking the highest risk in three years. 

In Czechia, Avast observed a shift in cybercrime tactics, emphasizing psychological manipulation over traditional malware. Fraud and deception committed on dating sites saw a 39-percent rise, alongside increased fake donation sites, fake ads, and numerous phishing emails. Avast's Jakub Křoustek highlighted the importance of adjusting security measures and enhancing public awareness to fortify defense against cyber threats.

POLITICS Pavel signs into force stricter conflict-of-interest laws

Czech President Petr Pavel has signed into law stricter amendments to Czechia’s conflict-of-interest law, targeting media ownership and subsidies for top politicians. The changes prevent politicians from transferring media assets to close individuals or trust funds, imposing higher penalties for violations. The amendments, known as "lex Babiš," exclude online media due to regulatory gaps. 

The law refers to former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who transferred his Agrofert holding to trusts to comply with conflict of interest rules. The revision also reshapes the Office for Supervision of Political Parties' structure, with a new five-member board assuming some chairman powers next year. The opposition ANO movement has posed obstacles during the amendments' approval in the Chamber of Deputies.

ENERGY ČEZ head: Europe has enough gas for upcoming months

Amidst rising wholesale gas prices exceeding EUR 40 per megawatt hour on the European market, financial director of state energy company ČEZ Martin Novák has today assured that the EU has ample gas and processing capacities. He notes the price surge differs from last year's significant spike, attributing it to normal seasonal fluctuations.

Novák underlined also the addition of new liquefied natural-gas terminals in the EU. He did not rule out that some other unpredictable situation could change the market situation in the future, as was the case last year in the case of the consequences of the conflict in Ukraine. In such a case, according to him, any increase in the price of commodities would be reflected in prices for end customers with a lag.

incident Foreigner dies at Czech metal music festival

A deceased person was found in a tent at the Brutal Assault music festival held in the Náchod region of Hradec Králové. The deceased was a 42-year-old foreigner, and preliminary indications suggest that his passing was not the result of external factors. Authorities have initiated a forensic autopsy to ascertain the cause of death. The incident occurred after 4 p.m. on Wednesday. 

The festival, renowned as one of Europe's major metal music events, began on the same day, with more than 150 performances by both local and international bands across five stages. Its conclusion is slated for midnight on Sunday. The annual gathering attracts a substantial crowd, with roughly 20,000 participants.

economy Czechia's inflation falls to under 9 percent

According to new data from the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ), inflation decelerated to 8.8 percent year on year in July, down from June's 9.7 percent. The ČSÚ attributed this to lower food prices. On a month-on-month basis, consumer prices rose marginally – by 0.5 percent. Food prices, on the other hand, dropped by 0.8 percent on a monthly basis.

In terms of food and non-alcoholic beverages, most monitored items experienced a moderate price uptick. Notably, meat prices increased by 3.2 percent in contrast to June's 4.7 percent, while margarine and other vegetable fats rose 3.6 percent year on year, a decrease from June's 17.1 percent. Sugar prices followed suit, growing by 44.7 percent, slightly lower than June's 50 percent.


Politics Czech president to evaluate judge's nomination

Czech President Petr Pavel has requested information on judge Robert Fremr from the Security Forces Archive and the Prague City Archive, and will announce his decision on whether to appoint Fremr as Constitutional Court (US) judge after studying the information, he wrote on social network X today.

Fremr, whose Pavel-proposed nomination to the US was approved by the Senate last week, faces criticism for some sentences he imposed as a judge during the communist regime, including sentences against emigrants. Pavel said he selects each nominee for a US judge from among the Czech judiciary after careful consideration and after studying all available information.

society Human rights commissioner criticizes Czech police chief's rape statement

Czech Government Commissioner for Human Rights Klara Simackova Laurencikova considers it unfortunate that Police President Martin Vondrasek said women's reports on sexual violence were often fabricated, she told CTK Wednesday. Laurencikova said it is necessary to carefully listen to all victims of sexual violence and every reported incident should be investigated very thoroughly.

A planned redefinition of the crime of rape should help protect victims more effectively, Laurencikova said. According to Amnesty International, roughly 12,000 rapes are committed in the Czech Republic a year, but only about 5 percent of these cases are reported to the police.

Economy Czech hop growers anticipate improved harvest

Hop growers in Žatec anticipate an average harvest, a marked improvement over last year's worst yield in a decade. Recent rains have positively affected yields and quality. The Žateck semi-early red variety, widely cultivated, displays increased alpha bitter acids, enhancing its quality.

Harvesting will commence later than usual due to current field conditions. Last year's drought led to a paltry 4,452 tons of hops, compared to 8,306 tons two years prior. Growers emphasize securing contracts as demand persists. The rainy season has prompted the need for part-time workers, drawing labor from across Europe.

Weather Weak tornado hits Czech Republic again

A weak tornado appeared in the small town of Rychnov nad Kneznou Wednesday afternoon, the ninth in Czechia this year, the fourth in the last four days, which caused only minor damage, the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (CHMU) has announced.

According to firefighters, today's whirlwind hit the outskirts of the town and injured no one. The Czech Thunderstorm Research Association (CTRA), a non-profit organization, posted a video from witnesses of the event on Facebook.

Tragedy Body discovered at Czech heavy metal festival

A deceased individual was discovered at the Brutal Assault music festival in Josefov. Police are investigating the situation and have not released further details.

The festival, with a high number of visitors, is under police supervision for security and traffic control. Collaborative efforts with organizers and agencies are in place.

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