News in brief for Aug. 13: Top headlines for Czechia on Sunday

Pilsen Zoo celebrates first red panda birth after 13 years of efforts, and more top headlines for the Czech Republic on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 13.08.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 22.08.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

Culture Normally-inaccessible Jewish sights open to the public

Fifty-five lesser-known Jewish heritage sites across the Czech Republic are accessible to the public as part of the sixth Day of Jewish Heritage event. Locations such as the Čáslav synagogue, where a phase of reconstruction has recently been completed, and various synagogues and cemeteries across the country are open for exploration.

The event aims to spotlight Jewish history and culture while increasing awareness about the preservation of these sites, which have often been abandoned or fallen into disrepair. The event includes guided tours, lectures, and free or symbolic entrance fees.

Crime Crime rate among foreigners in Czechia stable

Despite the increasing number of foreigners residing in the Czech Republic, Interior Minister Vít Rakušan has emphasized that the crime rate among foreign-born residents has remained stable. He assured the public that all crimes would be properly investigated and perpetrators punished, and rejected placing collective guilt on specific groups.

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In 2019, foreigners accounted for 8.2 percent of total crimes when they constituted about 6 percent of the population. Currently, foreigners make up 10-11 percent of the population, but the crime rate stands at 11.5 percent. Recent violent acts involving Ukrainians garnered media attention, but Rakušan underlined individual responsibility, asserting that fear and hatred are wielded by populists.

Police Hundreds of kilos of cocaine found in Prague banana shipment

A staggering 646 kilograms of cocaine, concealed within a shipment of bananas en route from Ecuador to Amsterdam, was discovered by Czech police at an Albert distribution center near Prague. The drug, with a street value of approximately two billion crowns, marks one of the largest hard drug seizures in the history of the country.

An investigation is underway to trace the origin and intended recipient of the drug, with international cooperation from Interpol and Europol in progress. The discovery arose from a logistics error, as the shipment failed to be unloaded in Amsterdam, arriving instead in central Bohemia.

Culture Number of Russian residents in Czechia declining

The number of Russians residing in the Czech Republic has declined by approximately 3,600 since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year, with 42,500 Russian residents holding permits at the end of June, according to data from the Czech Statistical Office. This shift contrasts with previous years of steady growth.

While there are fewer Russian students at Czech universities, the count of Russian employees in the Czech labor market increased by around 1,300 since the prior spring, reaching roughly 20,200 by mid-2023. Evolving sentiments and political dynamics also factor in, with a study showing over half of Czech citizens advocate for complete political and economic isolation of Russia post-invasion.

Real Estate Loans from building savings banks down by 50 percent

Building savings banks in the Czech Republic issued loans amounting to 20.3 billion crowns from January to July, a 52.9 percent decrease compared to the same period last year. The decline is primarily attributed to a drop in loans secured by mortgages on real estate, with the number of such loans decreasing by 72 percent and the volume by three-quarters.

The number of newly concluded construction savings contracts also dropped by 17.3 percent, reaching 258,519 contracts. The decrease is partly attributed to uncertainty around changes in state support for building savings, which led the government to reduce maximum support amounts.

Education Prices for school supplies on the rise

With the new school year approaching on September 1, parents in the Czech Republic are facing a more than ten percent increase in the price of school supplies compared to last year. The cost of equipping a first-grader can now exceed CZK 3,000. Both backpacks and writing materials have seen price hikes.

While backpack prices range from CZK 750 to CZK 2,500 crowns, writing and art supplies will cost around CZK 1,000 for first-graders. Retailers expect peak demand in late August and early September, with parents more likely to consider discount offers this year. Some also buy tablets or laptops for older schoolchildren, often using installment plans.

ZOO Plzeň Zoo celebrates first red panda birth after 13-Year effort

Plzeň Zoo is celebrating a significant milestone as it proudly announces the birth of its first female red panda cub on June 12. This achievement comes after 13 years of dedicated work towards breeding and conserving the endangered red panda species. Zoo spokesperson, Martin Vobruba, shared that the journey began in 2010 with the arrival of the first male red panda from Vienna.

Throughout the years, the zoo has carefully managed the care of two males and three different females as part of their conservation program. The newborn cub's parents, Nepal and Lavinia, now represent a major success in the zoo's commitment to the protection and propagation of red pandas.

Culture Festival of Chod culture kicks off in Domažlice

Domažlice is alive with the vibrant spirit of the 69th Chod Festival, an emblematic cultural event in the Pilsen region. The festivities, lasting until Sunday, highlight Chod traditions with embroidered costumes, delectable Chod pies, and the resounding melodies of bagpipe bands. Thousands of attendees are expected, not only from across the Czech Republic but also from neighboring Bavaria and beyond.

The event features hours of folk music, craft markets, open-air services, and an energetic rock festival, Chodrockfest. Amid the revelry, traffic restrictions and alternative transportation have been arranged to ensure seamless participation. The Chod Festival is a cornerstone of Domažlice's cultural calendar, uniting locals and visitors alike.

Tech Czech Cyber Security authority warns of fake bank calls

Czechia's National Office for Cyber Security (NÚKIB) has issued a warning about fraudulent phone calls seeking to manipulate individuals into transferring money. The caller, posing as a bank representative with apparent NÚKIB information, persuades recipients to move funds to a "reserve account" to avoid theft risks.

The scammer impersonates real NÚKIB employees or banking personnel, stressing the need for urgent action. The fraudsters even use real employee names sourced from public data. NÚKIB advises the public not to make hasty decisions based on such calls and to verify with official bank contacts before sharing sensitive information or initiating transactions.

Family Opposition parties push for increase in parental allowance

The ANO and SPD opposition parties are advocating for a more substantial rise in the parental allowance during discussions within the Chamber of Deputies, proposing an increase of up to CZK 100,000. The Czech cabinet under PM Petr Fiala previously proposed raising the parental benefit from the current CZK 300,000 to CZK 350,000, effective for children born from January next year.

ANO's Aleš Juchelka stated they'll propose CZK 400,000 and an alternative of CZK 375,000. SPD MP Lucie Šafránková will propose an even broader range, from CZK 360,000 to CZK 400,000. Both opposition parties also aim to extend the benefits for families with small children.

Science Optimal conditions for Perseid meteor shower tonight

Tonight night marks the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, with nearly ideal conditions for observation over the Czech Republic, say experts. Visible since July 17, meteor frequency has been gradually rising. Between midnight and 4 a.m., away from urban areas, sky gazers can witness up to 80 meteors per hour in a moonless sky.

The crescent moon's minimal interference enhances visibility, allowing even faint meteors to be seen. Bright meteors will also be visible during the peak, ranging from ten to twenty within an hour. Though an annual event, moonlight impacts visibility. Experts predict unfavorable conditions in the next two years, with optimal viewing anticipated in 2026.

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