News in brief for June 30: Karlovy Vary Film Festival red-carpet ceremony begins

Defense minister comments on global security, Fiala shows worry about Hungary and Poland's refugee attitude, and more headlines for Friday, June 30, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 30.06.2023 08:53:00 (updated on 30.06.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

Tragedy Woman jumps into Macocha Abyss with two children

South Moravian police are currently investigating the death of a woman and her two children who this afternoon jumped into the region’s Macocha Abyss, resulting in the death of all three individuals, reported. The Macocha Abyss, located within the Punkva Caves, is a well-known tourist attraction and has been a site for past suicides.

Emergency responders, including firefighters, rescuers, and a helicopter, promptly arrived at the scene but were unable to provide any assistance. Tours of the surrounding Punkva Caves were suspended after the incident today.

Festival Red carpet walk underway at KVIFF

The 57th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival commenced today with the eagerly anticipated red carpet event. Czech and foreign film stars, including Russell Crowe and Alicia Vikander, will grace the red carpet later this evening. The festival's traditional hosts, Marek Eben and Jiří Bartoška, were present for the opening.

Stars headed into the Thermal Hotel in Karlovy Vary this afternoon under umbrellas including American actress Patricia Clarkson, a member of the main jury, who is returning to the festival after four years. Crowe's band is slated to perform tonight. Vikander arrived on Friday morning.

ukraine UN will give Czechia CZK 37m for refugee help

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees announced today that it will donate more than CZK 37 million to Czechia for various integration projects. These initiatives, supported by the Interior Ministry, aim to assist refugees in adapting to life in the Czech Republic and becoming part of society.

The funding will be allocated to 19 projects in municipalities such as Brno, Bustehrad, Děčín, Litomysl, Ostrava, and Žatec. The activities will include Czech language courses, social and legal counseling, and recreational programs for both adults and children, including summer camps. According to statistics from the Interior Ministry, Czechia has about 347,750 refugees. Most of them (over 85,000) are reported in Prague, followed by the Central Bohemia region, with almost 50,000 refugees.

society Czechs more tolerant of cannabis than in 2019

According to a survey released today by the Centre for Public Opinion Research, 62 percent of Czechs now find the use of cannabis drugs morally acceptable, a 9-percentage-point increase since 2019. 

However, the overall public opinion on substance abuse remains unchanged in the past four years. The majority still condemns the use of drugs like ecstasy, methamphetamine, and heroin, while over 90 percent consider the use of painkillers and alcohol acceptable. Just 16 percent view ecstasy, methamphetamine, or heroin in a similar light. Around 76 percent of respondents also believe that drug addicts should be provided with free counseling, data from the survey shows.

TOURISM Prague City Tourism employees to start wearing uniforms

According to an announcement made today by Prague City Tourism (PCT), from July 1 PCT employees at Prague's towers, monuments, and tourist information centers will wear special uniforms. 

The goal of this new dress code, as stated by PCT spokesperson Klára Janderová, is to “cultivate the brand of the capital” and create a uniform visual style recognizable to the public. The design of the summer and winter versions of the new clothing incorporates individual Prague towers as its logos.

defense Czech defense minister – world is not a safe place

During a ceremony for Czech Armed Forces Day at Vítkov Hill today, Czech Defense Minister Jana Černochová noted that the world is currently “not a safe place.”  She emphasized the importance of readiness and preparation to protect public safety, health, and living standards.

Černochová commended the strong public trust in the professional army, and acknowledged the bravery as well as the resilience of both Czech and Ukrainian soldiers. She also highlighted the valuable assistance provided by Czech soldiers during times of crises, including floods, natural disasters, and Covid-19.

EU Fiala concerned about Hungary and Poland's refugee stance

During the ongoing EU summit, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala expressed today concern over the stance of Poland and Hungary that jeopardizes the inclusion of financial support for states accepting refugees from Ukraine. The leaders of the EU27 halted the migration policy debate without reaching a common position Thursday.

Media reports indicate that the Polish and Hungarian Prime Ministers, Mateusz Morawiecki and Viktor Orbán, objected to the majority agreement that aimed to distribute the responsibility of hosting migrants among all EU member states, insisting on unanimous decisions instead.

SERVICES Hundreds of Czech Post branches close today

Three hundred Czech Post branches will close permanently by the end of the business day, following cost-saving measures enacted by the state postal carrier earlier this year. 

The company is closing the most branches in the Moravian-Silesian region (47), followed by Prague, where 35 post offices will close, and 27 branches will cease operations in the Ústí nad Labem region. A maximum of 574 employees will leave Czech Post in connection with the closure of branches, which is one-third less than originally expected.

IMMIGRATION Czechia will not renew border checks with Slovakia

Czechia currently has no plans to reinstate border checks with Slovakia due to a decrease in the number of illegal migrants detected this year, according to Interior Minister Vít Rakušan. Germany also has no intentions of implementing checks on its border with Czechia. The minister said that as of June 28, police had detected 798 individuals during illegal migration, a 6 percent decrease compared to the same period last year.

Last year, Czechia experienced a surge in migrants, prompting the temporary introduction of border checks. The implementation of readmission agreements for refugee transfers has been more effective this year than in 2022.

Defense US approves sale of fighter jets to Czechia

The U.S. State Department has given approval for the potential sale of F-35 fighter jets to the Czech military, with an estimated cost of up to $5.62 billion, according to the Pentagon, according to Reuters. The Czech Defense Ministry has been in negotiations to purchase 24 F-35 jets, which would replace the currently leased Gripen fighters.

The estimated price includes the ten-year operation costs of the jets, with a sufficient reserve to accommodate potential future demands from the Czech Republic. The draft contract is expected to be submitted to the Czech government by Oct. 1, and the Pentagon believes Czechia will have no issues incorporating the F-35s into its armed forces.

Innovation First Czech-made electric moped unveiled

The first Czech electric moped, Mopedix, has been unveiled at the Technical University in Liberec. Developed with the university's expertise, the compact motorcycle has received certification and is ready to hit Czech roads. The moped, reminiscent of the well-known Babette, is available in different colors and configurations, with homologation for two people.

Mopedix, produced by start-up Goodped, has already launched an e-shop and offers the moped for CZK 134,444. The company aims to deliver hundreds of units per year, targeting the Czech Republic and neighboring countries. With a simple design and robust metal frame, the moped offers a comfortable means of transportation, with a top speed of 45 kilometers per hour.

Sports Czech NHL player takes home Golden Stick

Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrňák has won the 55th Golden Stick award for the best hockey player of the past season in the Czech Republic. This is Pastrňák's sixth time winning the poll, with Martin Nečas from the Carolina Hurricanes and David Krejčí also from the Boston Bruins, coming in second and third respectively.

Pastrňák had previously won the award five times in a row from 2017 to 2022. The poll organizers announced the results on TV. Among the top Czech ice hockey players, Roman Červenka, who played in the Swiss league, was the only one who did not play in the NHL last season.

Culture Karlovy Vary Film Festival begins today

The fifty-seventh Karlovy Vary Film Festival has begun in Czechia, featuring Hollywood guests Russell Crowe, Ewan McGregor, Alicia Vikander, and Robin Wright. The leading award is the Crystal Globe, with two Czech representatives vying for the prize. Winners will be announced on July 8, with the ceremony broadcast on Czech Television.

Russell Crowe will perform with his band, and the opening film is "The Queen's Gambit." Other highlights include screenings of contemporary Iranian films and a tribute to independent film producer Christine Vachonová. The festival also includes awards for actors and showcases Czech and international films.

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