News in brief for July 19: Top headlines for Wednesday in Czechia

A Wimbledon winner returns home, Prague Castle receives bomb threat, historic flight takes off from Havel airport, and more top stories for July 19, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 19.07.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 19.07.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

LAW Prague court sentences Covid-19 disinformer

Disinformation spreader Tomáš Čermák has this afternoon been sentenced to five and a half years in prison for inciting violence during the lockdown imposed for the Covid-19 pandemic. The 36-year-old man had expressed his anti-lockdown views on Facebook, urging resistance and advocating for Czechia’s exit from the EU and NATO.

He specifically targeted senators, parliamentarians, and government officials as potential victims of violence. He also urged people to burn the Czech Senate down. The High Court in Prague today confirmed that he had been promoting terrorism. Around 100 of Čermák’s supporters attended the court session and accused the Czech legal system of fascism. 

music Colours of Ostrava festival begins today

The Colours of Ostrava festival, which started today, will feature various international artists in the coming days, including U.S. band OneRepublic and former One Direction member Niall Horan, as well as rapper Macklemore. The event will run until July 22. This year, the festival will also allow card payments for the first time.

Colours of Ostrava, which previously attracted about 40,000 attendees, boasts 110 performers this year, with 70 coming from 30 different countries. On Friday, President Petr Pavel will participate as a guest in the Meltingpot discussion forum. 

Society Sixty percent of Czechs fear poverty

According to a survey conducted by the STEM polling agency in May and published today, most Czechs (58 percent) fear poverty or reduced living standards due to inflation. However, this is a year-on-year decline of 7 percentage points.

Four-fifths of respondents believe that the government's efforts to prevent a significant increase in poverty in the Czech Republic are insufficient, though this number has dropped by 3 percent compared to the previous year. Inflation in May 2022 had been 16 percent year on year, and in May 2023 it was (a still-high, considering the base) 11.1 percent year on year.

Intelligence Ukraine reclaimed huge area of territory, MI6 head says

In a speech at the British Embassy in Prague, MI6 (the UK’s main foreign intelligence service) Chief Richard Moore revealed that Ukraine has reclaimed a significant portion of its territory in the last month, exceeding the land Russia occupied in the past year. He expressed concern over the distressing actions of Russian armed forces, such as demolishing Ukrainian cities, displacing innocent families, and abducting numerous children.

Moore emphasized that true resolution can only be achieved when Ukraine regains its sovereignty and lives in freedom. He also commended Ukraine's armed forces for their impressive ability to adopt new technologies, demonstrated in their counteroffensive efforts.

crime Police arrest suspect in Prague Castle bomb threat

Police have apprehended a man from the north of Bohemia for sending an anonymous e-mail to the Presidential Office, threatening the presence of explosives in President Petr Pavel's place of work. The incident occurred on July 17, and the suspect – a 41-year-old with a history of property crimes – was tracked down and arrested swiftly.

If convicted, the perpetrator could face up to three years in prison for inciting fear. The case was taken over by criminal investigators specializing in extremism and terrorism.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Czech and Polish ministers to meet Thursday

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, along with approximately nine ministers, will meet with representatives of the Polish government in Katowice on Thursday. The discussions will cover topics such as Ukraine, cooperation in energy and transport infrastructure, and the EU’s current refugee- and migrant-related agenda. 

This will be the eighth time that the Czech-Polish intergovernmental consultations are taking place this year. The last meeting in Prague focused on issues related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the refugee situation, energy cooperation, and the Stork II gas pipeline project.

Sport Czech Wimbledon champion returns home

Prague tennis venue Štvanice witnessed grand celebrations as Wimbledon champion Markéta Vondroušová returned to her home club, I.ČLTK, with the trophy. The victory marked a fitting gift for the club's 130th anniversary. Vondroušová became the first unseeded player since 1968 to win a grass-court Grand Slam.

She defeated five seeded opponents, including Tunisia's Ons Jabeur in the final. The achievement elevated her to the 10th position in the world rankings and secured a place in the year-end WTA Finals in China, alongside Karolína Muchová and Petra Kvitová.

Crime Prague Castle receives bomb threat

During a briefing Tuesday in Kleť, South Bohemia, Czech President Petr Pavel confirmed that an anonymous bomb threat was received at the Castle office Monday night. Prague police spokesman Richard Hrdina stated that the person responsible for the threatening email has been identified and detained.

The man is suspected of spreading an alarmist message and faces up to three years behind bars, Hrdina added. During the briefing, the president also expressed support for the simultaneous construction of a small modular reactor at Temelín alongside the new block in Dukovany during his visit to the region.

protests 500 Roma rally to demand better security

Around 500 Roma people gathered in Krupka, North Bohemia, demanding improved security following a Sunday conflict at a local housing estate. A 30-year-old Moldovan man was charged with rioting and will be deported. While police dismissed rumors of Ukrainian involvement in the incident, some demonstrators expressed opposition to Ukrainians.

The group marched to the police station seeking information about the housing estate incident. The speakers called for increased security and protection of the Roma community. Police monitored the rally but did not interfere. Previous tensions between Roma and Ukrainians in other Czech cities have also been reported. The situation remains under investigation.

business Czech kitchen goods company fined for price fixing

Tescoma, a Czech kitchen utensils manufacturer and seller, has been fined nearly CZK 64 million by the Office for the Protection of Economic Competition (ÚOHS) for enforcing minimum retail prices for over five years. The ÚOHS found that Tescoma set fixed minimum prices for its goods, restricting competition among retailers.

The company was guilty of prohibited agreements with customers and distorting economic competition in the household kitchen utensils market. Though the fine could have been higher, it was reduced due to Tescoma's cooperation and compliance program. The fine is final, and Tescoma must pay it. The company's CEO declined to comment on the penalty.

travel First direct flight from Prague to Taiwan takes off

Tuesday saw the launch of the first direct air link between the Czech Republic and Taiwan. China Airlines will operate twice a week between Prague and Taipei. Prices for round-trip tickets start at approximately CZK 17,800. Czech ticket sellers report increasing interest in travel to Taiwan. The direct link is expected to expand travel possibilities to other destinations in Asia.

The inaugural flight will arrive in Prague on Wednesday morning. The route will operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays from Taiwan and on Wednesdays and Sundays from the Czech Republic. China Airlines will use an Airbus A350-900 with 306 seats.

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