News in brief for July 29: Top headlines for Czechia on Saturday

Court says that Prague Castle courtyards are private, Czech consular team to come home from Rhodes, and more top stories for Saturday, July 29, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 29.07.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 29.07.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

Weather Areas of Bohemia hit by strong storms, high winds

Heavy rain and storms struck areas of the Czech Republic on Saturday afternoon, primarily affecting the western half of the country. The storm band is currently progressing eastwards. The amount of rainfall in the worst-hit areas reached around ten millimeters. Strong winds accompanying the storms have caused trees to break in various locations.

Authorities are advising residents to exercise caution and steer clear of areas with damaged trees. Meteorologists are closely monitoring the situation and will keep the public informed with weather updates.

Traffic Mass accident leads to traffic delays on D1 highway from Prague

A major traffic accident occurred on the D1 highway between Prague and Říkovice on Saturday afternoon, resulting in a collision between five cars. The incident, which occurred on the 19th kilometer, was likely caused by the inattention of one of the drivers. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries reported.

The D1 highway is a crucial route connecting Prague and Brno, and the accident caused significant traffic congestion, exacerbated by ongoing road reconstruction in the area. Although the highway was partially passable, drivers faced long delays due to narrowed lanes. The Czech Republic police urge all drivers to exercise caution, particularly in construction zones.

Politics V4 states differ mainly on foreign policy, says Czech minister

Czech European Affairs Minister Martin Dvořák stated in an interview this weekend that the Visegrad Four (V4) countries no longer hold uniform opinions on various foreign policy and EU-related matters. The V4 bloc, comprised of Czechia, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary, is no longer a cohesive force capable of pushing its agenda through the EU based on unity, says Dvořák.

Despite this, Dvořák emphasized that cooperation among V4 members is still feasible for joint actions, plans, and projects, even though the bloc lacks institutional anchorage. Recent examples of divergence include disagreements on EU migration rule reform, with Poland and Hungary opposing the proposal, while the Czech Republic supported it.

Politics Former Deputy Minister being investigated for assault

Former Deputy Interior Minister Lukáš Kolářík is being investigated for allegedly assaulting his former assistant, as reported by Seznam Zpravy. Kolářík resigned from the Interior Ministry a few weeks ago, citing personal reasons, but later admitted it was related to an altercation involving his wife and assistant.

The assistant has claimed that Kolářík physically attacked her. The police are investigating the matter, which occurred at an Interior Ministry accommodation facility. Interior Minister Vít Rakušan stated his office would address the situation. Kolářík suspended his party membership due to ongoing media attention, and the Pirate party is treating the matter seriously.

History Czech Republic will not reopen 120-year-old murder case

Czech Minister of Justice Pavel Blažek has decided that the case of Leopold Hilsner, who was accused of murdering a young woman in 1900, will not be reopened, a Ministry spokesperson tells Hilsner, a Jewish resident of Polná, was accused of murder and convicted on the basis of circumstantial evidence, which sparked violent displays of anti-Semitism. 

Although Hilsner was later pardoned, his name was never fully cleared, and efforts to reopen the case have been made for over a hundred years. The Hilsner case is considered one of the most controversial trials in the history of the Czech lands.

Crime Prague police detain three for violent city center assault

Prague police responded to a fight that broke out on Dlouhá street on Thursday evening following a prior altercation in a local club. During the violent confrontation, a 33-year-old foreigner was severely cut and stabbed. Prompt action by the police's intervention unit led to the detention of three other foreigners suspected of the attack.

Two of the detainees were charged with grievous bodily harm for their alleged involvement in the assault. The third individual attempted to break up the altercation, but was later found to be in possession of a significant amount of cocaine and ecstasy. As a result, he faces charges related to illegal drug production and handling.

PRAGUE NEWS Deputy Mayor suggests canceling Russian concert in Prague

Prague Deputy Mayor Jiří Pospíšil Friady asked Prague’s Municipal House to cancel the planned concert (on Oct. 16) of Russian opera singer Anna Netrebko, due to her being on Ukraine’s sanctions list. After meeting with representatives of the Ukrainian embassy, Pospíšil made clear that Netrebko had previously expressed support for Russian President Vladimir Putin's rule and has in the past been close to the Russian leader.

The final decision ultimately rests with the management of Prague Municipal House, led by its director Vlastimil Ježek, who previously expressed the need for convincing reasons to cancel the performance. According to Pospíšil, Netrebko has denounced the war but has not publicly distanced herself from Putin.

IMMIGRATION German states demand new border controls with Czechia

The interior ministers of Saxony and Brandenburg announced Friday that they urge the reintroduction of border controls with Czechia and Poland due to concerns about illegal migration. They believe these controls should complement the existing random checks conducted by the federal police in the border area. 

The migration route through Czechia is a key concern, as illegal immigrants tend to use the country as a transit route. In the first half of 2023, Czechia detected around 800 illegal immigrants in transit. In late June, Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan rejected calls for border controls on the German or Slovak borders. He called such controls an "extreme measure."

PRAGUE CASTLE Court: Prague Castle courtyards are private property

The Prague Municipal Court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the watchdog organization, which had aimed to have the courtyards of Prague Castle recognized as a public space. The court has definitively ruled that they are private. This means that nothing will change with regard to tourist and public access.

As a consequence of this verdict, gatherings in these areas will continue to be subject to permission issued by the Prague Castle Administration. The court's decision was based on the belief that the disputed area does not meet the legal requirements to be considered public space, as there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate public usage for social benefit over an extended period. has been advocating for unlimited access to the Prague Castle area since the presidency of Miloš Zeman (in office from 2013 to 2023).

education Czechia may get new, digitized secondary school application process

The Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports has announced that it plans to propose an amendment to allow secondary school applicants to submit three electronic applications, increasing their chances of acceptance after the first round. Currently, applicants can only submit two paper applications. 

Schoolchildren will also have the flexibility to prioritize their preferred fields and schools. The proposed changes to the Education Act and enrollment regulations will be presented in September and may apply from 2024. The move aims to accommodate more applicants – amid surging demand and low school space – and enhance the efficiency of the admissions process by utilizing electronic submissions. 

GREEK FIRES Consular team to return home from Rhodes

The Czech Foreign Ministry has announced that its special consular team, which assisted Czech tourists on the fire-hit Greek island Rhodes, will soon return to Prague. The dedicated telephone line set up for providing information and aid has been deactivated, as the situation on the island has stabilized. The phone line received 349 calls, with 52 from Czech citizens facing critical situations. 

The team of two consular officers and two fire officers helped citizens board planes, issued replacement travel documents, and offered psychological support. They also assessed the affected areas outside the epicenter of the blazes and provided advise on whether or not to travel. All fires in Greece are now under control, as reported by Greek media.

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