News in brief for June 28: Actor Russell Crowe touches down in Karlovy Vary

The top headlines for Wednesday, June 28, updated throughout the day to keep you up to speed.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 28.06.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 28.06.2023) Reading time: 7 minutes

MILITARY Govt. passes US-Czech defense treaty in first reading

The Czech Chamber of Deputies this afternoon passed the Czech-U.S. defense cooperation agreement (DCA) in its first reading. The Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party failed to push through its rejection. SPD leader Tomio Okamura's proposal to halt the DCA received support from just 16 of the 152 members of parliament present. 

The DCA includes a list of military facilities and premises belonging to the Czech army that U.S. armed forces will be able to use under pre-agreed conditions. Coalition parties, which all support the treaty, say that it does not allow U.S. soldiers to set up a base in Czechia. The Senate will vote on the DCA on July 13.

LGBTQ+ Pavel: Nobody's rights should be infringed due to sexuality

President Petr Pavel at the Czech Senate today emphasized that it is unacceptable for any segment of society to be deprived of rights based on their sexual orientation. During a conference on marriage and parenting for same-sex couples, he regarded the marriage-for-all law as a just legal framework rather than a revolution. 

Senate President Miloš Vystrčil and Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Markéta Pekarová Adamová also supported the adoption of this law. The Czech government is currently debating whether same-sex marriage should be legalized: some coalition parties, such as Civic Democrats and Christian Democrats, are reluctant to make it legal.

UKRAINE Czech ombudsman warns against refugee-welfare change

According to Czech ombudsman Stanislav Křeček, changes in refugee-support rules in Czechia – due to take place from July 1 – will leave tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees uncertain about their future.

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The state will only cover accommodation costs for vulnerable individuals, while others will have to pay commercial rents and face reduced humanitarian benefits. Křeček warns that many refugees will struggle to afford basic necessities like housing and food, leading to potential exploitation. The new humanitarian benefit for adult temporary protection holders based in Czechia for over 150 days from CZK 4,860 to CZK 3,130, with varying amounts provided for housing based on residency.

film Russell Crowe arrives in Czechia, gears up for festival

New Zealand-born actor Russell Crowe arrived in Karlovy Vary this afternoon in preparation for the opening of the 57th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on June 30. Crowe landed at Karlovy Vary Airport at around 3:40 p.m. and checked into Grandhotel Pupp. 

He will attend the festival's opening ceremony on Friday and later perform with his band, Indoor Garden Party, near the Thermal Hotel. He is due to receive the Crystal Globe for his significant artistic contribution to world cinema.  The festival will also screen the acclaimed 2003 film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World in honor of Crowe's award, a movie that garnered two Oscars and ten nominations, with Crowe himself nominated for a Golden Globe.

sport Five Czech women's tennis players seeded at Wimbledon

Following an official announcement from the Wimbledon Championships, five Czech tennis players have been designated as seeded players for Wimbledon, with Petra Kvitová – Czechia’s number-one women’s tennis player – leading the pack as the tournament's ninth-ranked player. Barbora Krejčíková follows closely behind at number ten, while Karolína Muchová, Karolína Plíšková, and Marie Bouzková hold rankings of 16th, 18th, and 32nd respectively.

The official announcement was made on the tournament's website today. Additionally, Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková, last year's women's doubles champions, hold the top position in the doubles category and are aiming for their eighth Grand Slam title together, potentially securing their third Wimbledon victory. The event commences on July 3, with the draw set to take place on Friday.

health Czechs can now pick up prescriptions from Croatia

Czech patients can now obtain prescription drugs from over 1,300 pharmacies in Croatia, as announced by the State Institute for Drug Control (SÚKL) today. Patients can pay for the medication at a Croatian pharmacy and request reimbursement from their health insurance company based on the Czech price. 

Similar arrangements have been in place since mid-June for medicine dispensing in Poland. Patients can use their original paper prescriptions at any pharmacy within the EU. SÚKL director Irena Storová emphasized that a published table will help Czechs locate pharmacies in familiar Croatian cities such as Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik, and Zadar.

law Court hands man 10-year jail term for smuggling drugs to Australia

A man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Regional Court in České Budějovice for smuggling drugs to Australia as a courier. Seven defendants in the case were acquitted. 

Czech police revealed that around 60 couriers transported over 780 kilograms of heroin and cocaine worth CZK 2.1 billion to Australia. The court has been handling the case since last spring, charging a total of 57 people, one of whom passed away. Six defendants had already reached a plea bargain. The group, which was uncovered in 2018, was also transporting drugs to New Zealand. The couriers smuggled heroin and cocaine exclusively in pairs and no more than twice, with long time intervals in between.

foreign affairs Czech ForMin responds to Russian attacks

The Czech Foreign Ministry via Twitter denounced Russia as a country that “has long ceased to be a civilized country” due to spreading evil, violence, hatred, and brutality. 

The statement came in response to the recent Russian attack on Kramatorsk, Ukraine, where a pizzeria was struck by missiles, resulting in the death of eight civilians – including three children –  and leaving dozens injured. The Czech Foreign Minister called on Russia to cease its killings of innocent people and emphasized that Russia’s actions constitute terrorism.

Diplomacy US Ambassador praises Czech-American relations

The U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Bijan Sabet, highlighted the strong relations between the two countries during a ceremony commemorating the 247th anniversary of US Independence Day. Sabet praised the Czech Republic's assistance to Ukraine in its conflict with Russia and acknowledged the shared challenges faced by both nations, including Russia and China.

Emphasizing the importance of freedom, Sabet commended the Czech Republic for being the first country to provide weapons to Ukraine and for accepting a significant number of refugees per capita. President Petr Pavel also underscored the historical ties between the two countries and stressed the significance of democratic values.

tragedy Czech tourist dies in Greece after ambulance delay

A Czech tourist died in Greece after waiting for an ambulance for almost an hour. The incident occurred on the island of Thasos, where the woman collapsed shortly after coming out of the sea. Greek website Kawala News reports that it took 51 minutes for the rescue service to arrive. Onlookers performed CPR on the beach and say they managed to resuscitate the middle-aged woman.

The delay has sparked local outrage, with concerns raised about the inadequate number of ambulances on the tourist-popular island. The exact cause of death is yet to be determined through an autopsy. Two weeks ago, a Czech tourist died in southeastern Tunisia in the Zarzís resort due to heart failure.

Society A third of Czech parents use physical punishment

A third of parents in the Czech Republic use physical punishment as a regular part of child-rearing, according to a recent study. The research involved 1,013 parents with children under the age of 18. It found that younger parents, those with more children, and individuals who themselves experienced physical punishment in childhood were more likely to resort to physical discipline.

While 25 percent of parents supported the notion of "a missed blow causing regret," 36 percent considered physical punishment an important aspect of upbringing. However, a quarter of respondents believed that physical punishment should be prohibited by law. Calls for a legal ban on physical punishment have been made by various organizations in the country, including the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Culuture Innovations from Dubai expo on display at National Technical Museum

Vistors to the National Technical Museum in Prague can see the SAWER system, which produces water from the air, or a container ship that can process plastic waste from the oceans among other innovations in a new exhibition highlighting Czech projects from the World Expo 2020 in Dubai.

The exhibition will open June 28 and run until Sunday, March 31, 2024. The exhibits were presented to journalists today by representatives of companies and schools. On display are 20 Czech innovations that could facilitate food availability, clean energy, the environment, nature conservation, and the use of 3D printers.

politics Deliberations over Czech-US defense continue today

The Czech Chamber of Deputies was unable to discuss the Czech-American Defense Cooperation Agreement on Tuesday due to obstruction by the opposition party. The SPD has been actively opposing the approval of the agreement and deliberately prolonged the session with lengthy speeches. The debate on the agreement commenced almost eight hours after the session's start, and, after nearly ten hours, the MPs agreed to suspend the discussion until Wednesday afternoon.

The SPD is advocating for a referendum to determine the approval of the agreement, claiming that it permits the presence of U.S. troops and the construction of embassy-like buildings without Czech oversight. The deliberations are set to resume on Wednesday.

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