News in brief for May 26: Government increases 'green subsidies' for low-income households

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Friday, May 26, 2023, updated throughout the day to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 26.05.2023 08:00:00 (updated on 26.05.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

CRIME Police charge student fraudster gang in capital

Police in Prague have charged 10 foreign university students for extorting a total of CZK 1.5 million from Czech women by assuming false identities and asking for money. 

The accused are said to have pretended to be doctors on UN missions, soldiers, or miners, that needed funding from the victims. The group of students then sent the money abroad in an attempt to cover their tracks. If found guilty, they individually face up to eight years in jail.

digitization Deputy PM: Birth numbers will not be abolished

Minister of Regional Development Ivan Bartoš has announced that so-called birth numbers (rodné čísla) will not be canceled, following a recent study suggesting it would cost approximately CZK 56 billion to get rid of them. 

Bartoš clarified that birth certificate numbers will still be used in new passports and driving licenses issued after 2025, but there are long-standing plans to gradually reduce their use and replace them with numbers that do not reveal the holder's date of birth and gender for privacy reasons.

crime Event company owner charged with nightclub crush

A 29-year-old man and a company based in Zlín have been charged by detectives with general negligent endangerment following an accident at a music club in Slušovice, South Moravia. Five underage individuals were injured in a crowd on a staircase during the incident, which occurred in October last year. 

The regional police’s spokesperson, Monika Kozumplíková, stated that if found guilty, the man could face a prison sentence of up to eight years. She added that the man held multiple roles as the sole managing director of the company and organizer, and failed to implement adequate security measures while allowing more visitors than the venue's maximum capacity.

EU Czech interior minister: Schengen border controls are 'extreme'

Following Germany’s decision Thursday to increase controls on the Czech-German border, Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan said that he believes internal Schengen area border checks are “an extreme measure,” that do not yet need to be taken.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said that illegal immigrants transiting through Czechia onto Germany were the reason for the new checks. According to German Police, April alone saw 900 detected illegal immigrants crossing the border from Czechia to Poland.

religion Czechia to open 1,000 churches for Night of Churches

The Prague archdiocese has announced today that the upcoming Night of Churches will see over 1,700 Christian churches – managed by various denominations, associations, and volunteers – open their doors on June 2. In Prague alone, people will be able to enter 155 churches, prayer rooms, temples, and chapels. 

The event, themed around baptism, aims to highlight not only the ritual itself but also the significance of the locations, objects, texts, and traditions related to baptism. Organizers intend to provide a comprehensive experience that explores various aspects of this important sacrament.

crime Man charged with starting huge Bohemian Switzerland fire

Police have charged a 36-year-old man for starting last summer’s widescale fire in Czechia’s Bohemian Switzerland National Park that lasted several days. 

The man, who is a former volunteer park ranger, allegedly planned to start other fires. He confessed to his crime at the end of April. The damage he caused is an estimated CZK 270 million. He faces 15 years in jail. 

ARCHEOLOGY Czech archeologists find vessel from 500 BC

Czech archaeologists have announced that they discovered fragments of an ancient vessel adorned with designs dating back to the 5th century BC. The find took place near Milovice village in the Jicin (to the northeast of the country) along the planned route of the upcoming D35 motorway. 

Archaeologist Daniel Stolz, representing the Archaia company that confirmed the discovery, stated that the vessel was likely imported from the Mediterranean, making this discovery exceptional for the country. Stolz said that the vessel was found within a newly discovered settlement that was likely used during the Celtic period.

ENVIRONMENT Czechia changes subsidy system for 'green' construction

The government has announced its plans to increase subsidies for the environmentally friendly renovation and insulation of houses for low-income and disadvantaged people. 

As part of its New Green Savings programme, homeowners’ associations will be able to receive a bonus of CZK 150,000 for each low-income household that wishes to renovate their homes via “green” methods, such as by installing photovoltaics, solar panels, or installing appropriate insulation. When applying for a grant to renovate a house or apartment, households in economically and socially disadvantaged municipalities scope will receive an extra 10 percent bonus.

Education Increase in classroom capacity necessary to tackle overcrowding

The Czech government plans to utilize the maximum capacity of 34 students per class in secondary schools to address the shortage of places for the upcoming academic year, according to Prime Minister Petr Fiala. However, the Grammar Schools Principals' Association and the Union of School Associations expressed concerns about the potential decline in teaching quality with larger class sizes.

Additionally, spatial constraints in school buildings may limit the ability to accommodate more students. Education Minister Mikuláš Bek mentioned the future digitalization of the admissions process and discussions on subject offerings to aid in managing the situation. The Ministry is considering adjustments to the admission procedure, including prioritizing applications.

AID Czech companies to help rebuild Iraq

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský expressed the Czech Republic's interest in having Czech companies participate in the reconstruction of Iraq during his visit to Baghdad. Lipavský met with Iraqi officials, including the Prime Minister and President, and opened a Czech-Iraqi business forum. He highlighted the Czech arms industry's good reputation in Iraq and introduced representatives of Czech companies specializing in defense, construction, power grids, and water filtration.

Lipavský emphasized the Czech government's support for these companies. The Iraqi government aims to achieve energy self-sufficiency and seeks long-term partnerships. Lipavský also discussed regional security, migration, and trade cooperation, as well as Russian aggression in Ukraine and the recent reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

economy Prague Airport experiencing slower recovery than counterparts

Prague Airport is experiencing a slower recovery in passenger numbers compared to its European counterparts, such as Vienna and Warsaw airports, according to data from the Association of European Airports. The slower recovery is attributed to factors including limited state support during the Covid-19 pandemic, a higher dependence on the Ukrainian and Russian markets, and the decline of the previously dominant carrier, ČSA.

Prague Airport has seen a decrease in passengers by about 40 percent compared to 2019, while Vienna and Warsaw airports have experienced a decline of about 25 percent. Prague Airport aims to handle 13.5 million passengers this year, and a full recovery is expected to be achieved later than other European airports.

ENERGY ČEZ announces major tender for new generator

ČEZ, the Czech energy company, has announced a major tender for the installation of a new generator at the Temelín Nuclear Power Plant. The investment, estimated to be worth billions of Czech crowns, will take place between 2028 and 2030. The current generators have been in operation since the plant's inception in 2000.

Companies have until June 9 to submit their bids, and the selected winner will provide two complete generators, including accessories, installation, and subsequent service. The aim is to select the supplier by next spring. The new generators will ensure the power plant's operation for at least another forty years.

architecture Czech students' design of Congo orphanage wins world prize

A student project by the Czech Technical University in Prague (ČVUT) has won the World Architecture Award in the student projects category, the school said in a news release. The winning design is an orphanage in Congo, and the students are now raising funds to bring the project to life in collaboration with the Our Children in Congo organization.

Despite being thousands of kilometers away, the students impressed the director of the orphanage with their dedicated work. The project was developed during the CVUT International Center for World Development's Project Marathon, which focuses on creating projects for developing areas. The World Architecture Award has been recognizing outstanding designs since 2006.

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