News in brief for May 25: Czechia loses to US in Ice Hockey World Championship quarterfinal

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Thursday, May 25, 2023, updated throughout the day to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 25.05.2023 06:18:00 (updated on 25.05.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

defense PM quells rumors of rift between defense minister and army head

Prime Minister Petr Fiala met Czechia’s Defense Minister Jana Černochová and the Chief of General Staff Karel Řehka this afternoon. Fiala addressed talks of discord between the Defense Ministry and Řehka. Fiala said that, despite any behind-the-scenes issues, the country’s common goal is a strong army.

Media rumors swirled last week describing that Řehka was considering resigning because Černochová was encroaching upon his powers too much. She is also said to have rejected Řehka’s proposal for some people to the rank of army general.

TECHNOLOGY Average Czech spends 150 minutes daily on social networks

A study by the AMI Digital agency in cooperation with research firm STEM/MARK has found that the average Czech spends almost two and a half hours – 147 minutes in total – on social networks. Although a high figure, this is 17 minutes less year on year.

About 95 percent of the entire Czech population uses social networks; YouTube and Facebook are the most popular, although Instagram and TikTok are surging in popularity. A separate study found that Czech teenagers spend over four hours daily on their phones. Statistics site DataReportal found that there are about 5 million Facebook accounts that were created in Czechia.

DIPLOMACY UK's Prince Edward visits Prague church

British Prince Edward – the brother of King Charles III – this afternoon visited the Orthodox Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Prague. Prince Edward honored the memory of seven Czechoslovak paratroopers who trained in Scotland. Minister of Defense Jana Černochová joined the British prince and laid a wreath at a memorial plaque near the church. 

Prince Edward met with President Petr Pavel earlier this week and also gave gold medals to the most successful participants of the Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) award.

sport Czechia falls to US in Ice Hockey World Championship showdown

The Czech men’s ice hockey team this afternoon lost against the U.S. in a huge quarterfinal showdown in the 2023 Ice Hockey World Championship in Finland. The U.S. team took an early lead in the first period, before doubling its advantage in the second. The final score was 3:0 to the U.S. 

The winner of today’s match will play either Switzerland or Germany in the semifinal. The Czech squad, which came fourth in its eight-country group, beat the U.S. last May in the 2022 world championship. Czechia finished third in 2022.

law Prague court sentences Czech CEO for oil mismanagement

The Prague Municipal Court has today imposed an eight-year prison sentence on the manager of the bankrupt German company Viktoriagruppe Petar Malý, due to the theft or loss of Czech diesel fuel that was entrusted by the Czech state to Malý.

According to the verdict, he defrauded the State Material Reserves Administration of at least CZK 108 million. Viktoriagruppe itself also faced charges; the court imposed a 10-year ban on its activities in the protection of state reserves. 

politics Opposition condemns govt. over pension reform

The ANO movement has repeated its criticism of the government for “quietly” approving an amendment to the country’s pension law, which will reduce the amount that the pensions are increased. According to ANO vice president Alena Schillerová, the new law will cause the “impoverishment” of pensioners. 

According to Schillerová, the cabinet did not have the pension amendment on the official agenda on Wednesday, but later announced its official approval in a press release. She said that ANO will not allow any shortening of deadlines for the bill’s passage or other deviations from the standard legislative process (the pension reform has not yet been made into a law).

LAW Russian who lived in Czechia faces retrial over criminal gang

The Prague High Court has annulled the original acquittal of Russian citizen Alexander Franchetti (who had been living in Czechia), who was charged with being involved in the detention of at least 11 Ukrainians during the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. The Prague Metropolitan Court will therefore need to organize a retrial.

Franchetti, who denies the charges, originally faced up to 15 years in prison for establishing an organized crime group if found guilty. After his acquittal last October, the court released Franchetti from custody.

economy Fiala meets with Czech National Bank heads

Prime Minister Petr Fiala met with the Governor of the Czech National Bank (CNB) Aleš Michl this morning – both agreed that the fight against inflation needs to continue. 

Fiala also discussed a special “recovery package” with Michl. The CNB has signaled that it will keep interest rates unchanged, at 7.25 percent. A cut, however, is expected in the third quarter of this year. In April, consumer prices in Czechia rose by 12.7 percent year on year, slowing from 15 percent in March

defense Czechia buys combat vehicles from Sweden

The Czech government has approved the purchase of 246 CV90 tracked infantry fighting vehicles from Sweden for CZK 59.7 billion ($2.7 billion). The initial plan was to acquire 210 vehicles, but due to rising prices, the ministry decided to exercise the option and purchase an additional 36 units.

The purchase is the largest in the modern history of the Czech Republic. The intergovernmental agreement with Sweden includes provisions for at least 40 percent of the contract value to be sourced from Czech companies. The first vehicles are expected to arrive in 2026, with full delivery by 2030.

diplomacy Exhibit devoted to Havel opens in Washington D.C.

Markéta Pekarová Adamová, the chairwoman of the Czech Chamber of Deputies, inaugurated an exhibition in Washington dedicated to the legacy of former Czech President Václav Havel. The exhibition, titled "From Dissident to President," is on display t the Museum of the Victims of Communism and highlights Havel's journey from dissident to leading figure in the fight for democracy.

Pekarová Adamová praised Havel's commitment to truth and his refusal to compromise on principles, emphasizing the importance of his courage and honesty. She also discussed potential collaborations between Czech and American institutions in the field of quantum technologies during her visit to the United States.

health Pharmacies to face high fines for unregistered drugs

The Czech government has approved an amendment to impose higher fines on pharmacies for not registering their medicines in an effort to prevent re-exports of drugs. Pharmacies will now face a fine of CZK 20 million, ten times higher than the current penalty, and may also face a ban on business activities.

The amendment aims to address the issue of medicines disappearing due to systematic failure in registration. Additionally, the government has approved a regulation on medical devices based on an EU directive to improve coordination and availability of medical devices at the European level. The bills will now be debated by the Chamber of Deputies.

economy Six million liters of spirits are produced illegally in Czechia yearly

The Union of Producers and Importers of Spirits (UVDL) in the Czech Republic has revealed that approximately six million liters of illegal spirits are produced and consumed in the country each year, equivalent to the entire domestic production. The UVDL opposes the government's planned increase in consumption tax, arguing that it will only drive up demand for cheap untaxed alcohol.

The union estimates the consumption of untaxed and illegally sold alcohol based on the amount produced in unlicensed distilleries. The government intends to raise the consumption tax on spirits, but the UVDL believes the tax increase is unfair compared to still wines.

culture Morcheeba to open Karlovy Vary film festival with free concert

The 57th edition of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival will take place from June 30 to July 8. The festival's opening ceremony on June 30 will feature a free concert by Morcheeba in front of the Thermal Hotel, showcasing the group's unique blend of trip hop, rock, and blues, the festival said in a press release. Russell Crowe and Indoor Garden Party will also perform on the opening day, followed by a performance by singer Vojtěch Dyk in the Mattoni Life Bar area.

The festival organizers have announced that Russell Crowe will receive the Crystal Globe for his outstanding artistic contribution, and Czech actress Daniela Kolářová will receive the President's Award. The theme song of the festival was recorded by director Ivan Zachariaš and will feature Johnny Depp.

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