News in brief for Aug. 2: Top headlines in Czechia for Wednesday

Legislators discuss regulation of low-THC cannabis, former PM lashes out at current government and more top headlines for Aug. 2, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 02.08.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 03.08.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

MILITARY Video shows Czech rocket launcher in use in Ukraine

Ukrainian Chief of General Staff Valerii Zaluzhnyi has today shared a video exhibiting the Czech-made RM-70 Vampire rocket launcher in action, operated by Ukraine's 110th Independent Mechanised Brigade against Russian forces on Ukrainian soil. Ukrainian soldiers praised the launcher's agility and effectiveness.

The RM-70, introduced by the Czechoslovak army in 1971, remains potent according to Ukrainian sources. It resembles Russia's BM-21 launcher, with a 40-rocket capacity, but it also houses 40 additional rockets on a Tatra armored chassis for quicker successive firing. News site Ukrainska Pravda highlighted the launcher's impact, underscoring its significant role in current conflict dynamics.

education Average salary for Czech teachers at CZK 48K

Data released by the Czech Statistical Office shows that in 2022 teachers in Czech kindergartens, elementary, and secondary schools had an average gross monthly salary of around CZK 48,000, including bonuses. Although there was a nominal increase of CZK 900 compared to 2021, inflation caused a real-salary decline. Their earnings equated to 110 percent of the national average salary.

Different Ministry of Education data revealed that the country had 154,000 educators and 6,000 vocational trainers across these institutions. In a broader context, the Czech Republic's average wage was CZK 40,353 in 2022, indicating a 7.5-percent real wage reduction due to a 15.1-percent increase in consumer prices.

ENVIRONMENT Mass fish death caused by oxygen depletion

Around one ton of fish recently died in the Odra (Oder) River at the Czech-Polish border in Bohumin due to oxygen depletion, as confirmed today by water-sample analysis from the Czech Environmental Inspectorate. No conclusive evidence of human-caused harm has emerged. The lack of oxygen was caused by hot weather and fluctuations in temperature.

Tests are still in progress, with final results expected next week. Polish Environment Minister Anna Moskwa initially reported the issue, prompting collaborative measures, including managed water releases from dams, to alleviate the situation. It is estimated that about 2 percent of the fish population in this river died. 

aviation Česká Budějovice Airport resumes international flights

Česká Budějovice Airport will today operate its first international flight following its four-year modernization, with a plane scheduled to fly from the city to Antalya, Turkey. 

The Smartwings airline will run the connection, which is organized by the Čedok Czech travel agency. Subsequent flights are planned to Rhodes and Crete (thrice weekly) this summer. The airport will also serve domestic flights, with a plane arriving from Pardubice tonight. The reconstruction of the airport, in operation since 1937, cost billions of U.S. dollars.

MILITARY Pavel lets 14 Czech soldiers fight in Ukraine

President Petr Pavel has confirmed that he has allowed 14 Czechs to join Ukraine's armed forces, while eight requests have been denied. A total of 146 Czechs have been granted the president's consent to join Ukrainian forces, with 132 approvals granted by Pavel's predecessor, Miloš Zeman.

The decision to allow Czech citizens to enlist was made in early March when Pavel assumed the presidency. The reasons for the eight denials have not been specified by Pavel's spokesperson. If Czech citizens want to legally join the fighting on Kyiv's side, they must ask the president for permission to serve in foreign armed forces. If they go to Ukraine without obtaining this exemption, they risk criminal prosecution.

HISTORY Website for testimonies of Czech Roma in WW2 launches

The Czech Academy of Sciences has announced today that it has launched an online database,, commemorating International Roma Holocaust Memorial Day. The platform features accounts of Roma survivors from Czechia and Slovakia during World War II. The project, led by historian Kateřina Čapková, aims to shed light on the often-overlooked history of Roma and Sinti communities during the Holocaust. 

The website presently holds around 250 testimonies, with ongoing efforts to expand this collection. The initiative seeks to raise awareness about the wartime genocide's enduring impact on these communities and challenge perspectives derived from official wartime documents.

Politics Former PM calls current govt. 'incompetent comedians'

In an interview with CNN Prima news, former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš criticized the coalition government led by Prime Minister Petr Fiala, calling them "incompetent comedians." Babiš accused Fiala's cabinet of failing to withdraw money from European funds, abandoning the EET system, and lacking an understanding of the need for investments.

The former PM also expressed concerns about the government's position in Brussels, stating that it does not adequately promote Czech interests. Babiš further shared his plans for the future, including preparing for European elections and traveling in October after going on vacation to Santorini in early July.

Legislation Czech lawmakers want to regulate psychoactive substances

A proposal was presented by a group of eight MPs from different parties, except for the SPD, to regulate the handling of psychoactive substances like kratom and low-THC cannabis. The substances must not resemble food, cosmetics, or toys, and their producers and sellers will need to register with the Office of the Government. Advertising of such products will be banned.

The substances will be strictly regulated, with bans on sales to minors and in specific locations. The proposal aims to control the market and limit health risks, especially to children. The government will now review the proposal before parliamentary consideration.

Economy PPF Group selling telecoms assets in four countries

Emirates Telecommunication Group, operating under the e& brand, will acquire a 50 percent stake plus one share in telecom assets in Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia, and Slovakia from PPF Telecom Group for EUR 2.15 billion (CZK 52 billion). This significant deal excludes Czech Republic telecoms, O2 Czech Republic, and CETIN, which will be separated from PPF.

The purchase aims to create synergies and strengthen e&'s position in the Central and Eastern European telecommunications market. The partnership will allow PPF Telecom Group to benefit from e&'s experience in other markets and develop modern digital products like the Internet of Things.

HEALTH Czech-designed app detects heart failure

A new technology called HeartInsight, along with a mobile app, enables the early identification of heart failure risk and predicts the need for hospitalization. Cardiologists from Olomouc University Hospital in the Czech Republic introduced the system, which allows heart implant patients to record symptoms using the app.

The data is then analyzed to identify an increased risk of heart failure up to 42 days in advance, allowing doctors to intervene promptly. The technology offers a low rate of false alarms and provides clear data visualization for doctors, contributing to longer and safer lives for patients. Heart failure is a leading cause of hospitalization and death in the Czech Republic.

Culture Czech hunting lodge undergoes stunning transformation

After three years of restoration, the former Lány hunting lodge in the Lednice-Valtice area, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, has been transformed into a guesthouse by private owner Robert Nemcsics. The dilapidated buildings now offer two social halls, accommodations for passing cyclists, and a window with snacks.

The reconstruction required negotiations with preservationists and the use of materials from architect Josef Hardmuth's other projects to preserve the area's historical elements. The property was previously unused and surrounded by waste, but Nemcsics replaced the high fence with a low one. The lodge was built by Prince Jan I of Liechtenstein in the early 19th century.

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