News in brief for July 31: Top headlines in Czechia for Monday

Czech govt. goes on holiday, Depeche Mode performs in Prague, and more top stories for July 31, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 31.07.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 31.07.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

BORDERS Police: Russian tennis players at Czech event won't be expelled

Two Russian tennis players participating in a challenger event in Liberec this week will not be expelled from the tournament, according to a statement released by Czech police today, as authorities found no issues with their residency and compliance with immigration laws. This is despite the fact that last week, Prague Airport border control denied entry to one Russian player scheduled to compete in a women's tournament in Prague. 

The Czech government has banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in the country due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. According to the National Sports Agency's interpretation, the government regulation applies only to the athletes representing their countries, which tennis players are not, as they play under a neutral flag and without state symbols in tennis tournaments.

education Czech universities announce September protest over poor funding

The Czech Rectors' Conference and the Council of Higher Education Institutions, along with education employees' trade unions, have announced today that they are planning a protest in September due to dissatisfaction with domestic university funding.

Charles University Rector Milena Králíčková informed the media about the upcoming protest, likely to be held on Sept. 12, 2023, in Prague's Bethlehem Chapel. The academics and rectors complain that higher education is underfunded, and the Finance Ministry's draft 2024 state budget proposes further budget reductions for the education sector. University teachers point out that the share of spending on higher education from the state budget has reached an all-time low. It has fallen from 0.66 percent of GDP in 2009 to 0.42 percent this year.

LEGAL Pavel signs law to repeals tens of thousands of outdated laws

President Petr Pavel this afternoon signed legislation to eliminate over 10,000 formally valid but obsolete pieces of legislation from the start of 2024. The law aims to clean up and clarify the legal system by repealing more than 6,600 inactive regulations and 3,600 provisions that still exist in the system, although are disregarded and irrelevant. The removal will ease the burden on the web-based “eCollection” system that displays the country’s laws. 


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Among the repealed regulations are laws from as early as 1919, such as the abolition of teacher celibacy, and a 1920 law that forbade inappropriate first names.

FINANCE Czech household debt increases by CZK 8bn in one month

Data published today by the Czech National Bank shows that, in June, Czech household debt rose by CZK 8 billion month on month, to nearly CZK 2.21 trillion. Corporate debt increased by CZK 9 billion, to CZK 1.3 trillion. The debts of households and companies were also higher on a year-on-year basis – for households, it was about CZK 107 billion, and for companies CZK 69 billion.

Home loans make up almost four-fifths of the total household debt. The indebtedness of Czech households exceeded CZK 1 trillion crowns for the first time in June 2010, surpassed CZK 1.5 trillion in September 2017, and in October 2021 it breached the CZK 2 trillion mark.

ECONOMY Czech GDP declines year on year in April-June

According to newly published preliminary statistics by the Czech Statistical Office, in the second quarter of 2023, the Czech economy experienced a 0.6 percent year-on-year decline, marking the second consecutive quarter of negative growth.

However, compared to the previous quarter, GDP showed a slight improvement of 0.1 percent. The decrease in household final consumption and gross capital formation contributed to the annual GDP decline, while foreign demand had a positive impact. Domestic demand supported the quarter-on-quarter growth. Industries such as information and communication had a positive influence on gross value added, whereas the construction and trade sectors had a negative impact.

politics Former deputy minister resigns from all posts after assault

Lukáš Kolářík, former Deputy Interior Minister of Czechia, has today officially resigned from all his remaining posts in the Pirate Party, which is part of the current government coalition.

The decision comes after an investigation into allegations of physical assault made by his former assistant. Kolářík acknowledged his inappropriate behavior, particularly towards his wife, and views it as a personal failure. He requested his party membership be suspended to avoid any association with the ongoing media case. Consequently, Kolářík is no longer politically active and has no plans for future involvement in the party. Previously, he held the position of deputy chairman in a Pirate regional branch.

Politics Czech govt. goes on holiday for two weeks

Prague's Straka Academy will be closed for a two-week vacation, with government ministers also taking a two-week break starting today. Prime Minister Petr Fiala will be absent, and Deputy Prime Ministers Vít Rakušan and Marian Jurečka will represent him if needed. The Prime Minister plans to spend part of his vacation in Croatia.

Unlike previous years, this government holiday will be shorter, lasting two weeks. Upon their return, the government will resume work on the budget and defend the tax and spending measures in the House of Representatives, with the first meeting scheduled for Sept. 4.

weather Storms with 4-cm hail sweep through North Bohemia

The Czech Republic experienced strong storms on Sunday, with storm waves moving across the country from the west. The Pilsen and South Bohemian regions were hit in the morning. The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute issued a warning for severe storms covering the entire country, with hail up to four centimeters in size reported in northern Bohemia.

Supercells were observed in the region, causing damage in Mělník and Litoměřice. Train services were affected by fallen trees, but no injuries were reported. The storm warning was in effect until 10 p.m., with heavy rainfall and wind gusts up to 20 meters per second expected.

culture Depeche Mode plays to 60,000 fans in Prague

British band Depeche Mode thrilled over 60,000 fans at their Prague concert on Sunday evening, part of the Memento Mori album tour. The show concluded with the classic hit Personal Jesus and featured favorites like Walking in My Shoes, Everything Counts, and Never Let Me Down Again.

Despite heavy rain causing a delayed start, the enthusiastic audience enjoyed hits from various albums, including Enjoy the Silence from Violator. The band honored late keyboardist Andrew Fletcher by dedicating World in My Eyes to him. Depeche Mode's successful tour, which sold over two million tickets worldwide, prompted the announcement of new European dates in 2024.

sports Two Russian tennis players face expulsion in Liberec

Two Russian tennis players participating in a men's challenger tournament in Liberec may face expulsion, while a WTA women's tennis event in Prague commenced without any Russian players. The Liberec organizers are cooperating with immigration police after informing the National Sports Agency about the Russian players in the draw. The players may be required to submit the necessary documents to continue in the tournament or face deportation.

The women's tournament in Prague does not feature any originally registered Russian or Belarusian players due to a government decree banning their participation in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The WTA expressed concerns, as these players usually compete under a neutral flag.

Science Czech researcher to study Icelandic volcano

Czech scientist Lukáš Krmíček, part of the Technical University's Institute of Geotechnics, joined an international team to study the birth of a new volcano in Iceland. The research was conducted in July, when two lithospheric plates separated, forming a new volcano in the Litli-Hrutur area. The lava samples collected will aid in understanding the Earth's interior, providing valuable information about the mantle.

Despite the risks associated with exploring volcanoes, the team used gas detectors and fireproof suits under the supervision of rescue workers. After leaving the site, the volcanic cone collapsed, highlighting the unpredictability and dangers of studying volcanoes.

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