News in brief for July 26: Top headlines for Czechia on Wednesday

Czechia fails to submit carbon-neutrality plan, man sentenced for wife's brutal murder, and more top headlines for July 26, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 26.07.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 26.07.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

politics Senate committee opposes Istanbul Convention ratification

The Czech Senate’s Constitutional and Legal Committee has this afternoon advised against ratifying the Istanbul Convention for protecting women from violence, calling it an ideological document. Five out of eight senators voted against its ratification. The convention, signed in 2016, requires ratification from the Czech Chamber of Deputies, the Senate, and the president to take effect. The former recently agreed to ratify it.

Czechia is among the minority of EU countries that has not yet adopted the convention. In its decision today, the committee said that it still supports the efforts of the Department of Justice to legislatively strengthen the protection of victims of domestic violence and criminal activity. It also raised concerns about the financing of non-profit organizations that are a part of the treaty. 

ENVIRONMENT Mysterious fish deaths reported at Czech-Polish border

The Czech and Polish ministers of environment have confirmed today that fish are dying at the confluence of the Odra and Olše rivers on the Czech-Polish border. Workers found a mass of dead fish in the Polish village of Chałupki, which were said to have come from the Czech side.

The Czech Environmental Inspectorate, alongside the Bohumín Water Management Authority, is currently at the site, taking samples to ascertain the root cause; a lack of oxygen or rapidly changing water levels are some of the suspected reasons for the death of the fish.

military Czechia receives two new US combat helicopters

The Náměšť nad Oslavou helicopter base received this afternoon two new combat helicopters from the U.S. The shipment, which included UH-1Y Venom multirole aircraft and AH-1Z Viper fighters, marks the beginning of Czechia’s replacement of its outdated Soviet helicopters. 

Czechia has ordered a total of 12 new helicopters from the U.S. for CZK 14.6 billion. Additionally, eight older choppers will be received for free, with Czechia covering the transfer and modernization costs using compensation received from the U.S. for equipment provided to Ukraine. Four more helicopters are expected to arrive by mid-September.

economy Survey: Two-thirds of Czechs only use cashless payment

A recent survey conducted by KB SmartPay, a subsidiary of Komerční banka, revealed that over two-thirds of Czechs now exclusively use cashless payment methods, with smartphones being the preferred mode of payment.

If a seller doesn't accept cards, 57 percent of customers would abandon the transaction, up from 48 percent just a few months earlier. Only 40 percent would withdraw cash from an ATM to return for the purchase. Furthermore, 20 percent of respondents reported not carrying cash regularly, and Czechs, in general, carry less money with them compared to the previous year.

international Drozd online system alerts Czechs in fire-hit countries

On Tuesday, Czechs using the Drozd travel system received warnings about wildfires in Sicily, Sardinia, Calabria (Italy), and Kemer (Turkey), in addition to regular updates about the situation in Greece. 

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that 5,910 Czechs registered in Greece, 1,149 for Italy, 1,320 for Turkey, 1,046 for Croatia, and 175 for Portugal received the warnings. The fires continue to pose a significant threat, especially in Rhodes, where flames have been raging for nine days.

banking UniCredit bank announces huge profits for Jan-June

Czech and Slovak UniCredit Bank has announced today that it recorded a net profit of CZK 5.3 billion (EUR 221 million) in the first half of this year, marking a 23-percent year-on-year increase. The bank's deposits surged by 20 percent, to CZK 564 billion, and the loans granted rose by 10.8 percent to CZK 545 billion.

Net income from fees and commissions saw a slight rise of 1.9 percent, reaching CZK 7.65 billion, while net interest income decreased by 2.5 percent to CZK 3.12 billion. Overall, the bank's net operating profit climbed by 14.2 percent, reaching CZK 7 billion.

EU Czechia fails to submit energy-climate plan

The Czech Republic has failed to submit its new energy-climate plan to the European Commission by the end of June. The plan is meant to outline the country's transition to carbon-free energy. Half of the EU member states, including the Czech Republic, missed the deadline for submitting plans for greening their economies. The delay is attributed to late approvals of certain parts of the Fit for 55 package of EU legislation. The Czech plan, which falls under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, is now expected to be sent to the Commission in September.

The plan is dependent on two other key energy documents to be completed later this year, the State Energy Concept and the Climate Protection Policy. The scenarios for energy and climate policy development are being debated, and they include options for constructing two or three new nuclear reactors in the Czech Republic. Environmentalists criticize the preference for nuclear energy and the lack of a scenario without reactor construction.

Environment Turów mine agreement best solution for Czechia, says PM

The Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Petr Fiala, said that Poland has fulfilled the agreement on the Turów mine, which he believes is the best solution for both the Czech Republic and its citizens residing near the mine. This statement comes in response to the Czech Geological Survey's announcement that the positive effects of the underground wall, intended to protect groundwater from draining to the Polish mine, have not yet been observed on the Czech side of the border.

Environmentalists have opposed the wall from the beginning, claiming it is ineffective in preventing water outflow. However, Fiala maintains that the agreement will be verified with an updated hydrogeological model by June 2024. The agreement also includes other measures to mitigate the impact of mining in the Turów mine. Last spring, Poland compensated the Czech Republic with EUR 45 million for mining damage, part of which is allocated to the Turów Fund for water mains construction to support affected areas on the border.

Society More Czechs oppose the death penalty than support it

For the first time in the Czech Republic, opponents of the death penalty outnumber its supporters, according to the Center for Public Opinion Research (CVVM). The latest CVVM spring survey reveals that 51 percent of respondents are against the death penalty, while 42 percent support it.

The number of opponents has increased nearly fourfold since 1992 when 75 percent of respondents supported the death penalty. The death penalty was abolished in Czechoslovakia in 1990 after the fall of communism. Among the reasons cited against the punishment is the risk of abuse and miscarriage of justice. The survey involved over 800 participants aged 15 and above.

Crime Czech man sentenced for brutally murdering wife

Prague High Court upheld a 27-year prison sentence for a 45-year-old Czech man convicted of brutally murdering his wife in October 2021. The man used a stun gun to paralyze his 41-year-old wife in their car, which he then pushed down a steep slope to crash into a tree. He subsequently set the car on fire, resulting in her death.

The court found the act to be a particularly agonizing murder, as the woman was conscious and unable to move during the attack. The exceptional sentence falls within the range of 20 to 30 years up to life imprisonment in the Czech Republic.

History Prehistoric artifacts discovered in South Moravian cave

Czech archaeologists have discovered prehistoric settlement remains in Kateřinská Cave, South Moravia. The findings include chipped stone tools and engraved slate fragments. The exact age of the artifacts is yet to be determined, but the tools are thought to date back to the Younger Paleolithic period, around 50,000 to 10,000 years ago. Additionally, bones of Pleistocene animals, such as bears, and prehistoric and medieval ceramics were found in the cave.

Notably, a large number of half-finished coins suggests the existence of a medieval illegal coin counterfeiting workshop from the late 14th or 15th century. This marks the second such discovery in Moravia, with the cave having previously yielded ancient drawings estimated to be 7,200 years old.

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