News in brief for May 3: Czech goalkeeper enters exclusive list of Premier League's greatest players

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Wednesday, May 3, 2023, updated regularly to keep you up to speed.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 03.05.2023 07:55:00 (updated on 03.05.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

EMERGENCY WWII bomb discovered in Brno, evacuations taking place

An aerial bomb was discovered by an excavator during excavation work in Brno-Juliánov, Czechia. The police are evacuating residents in the area, with an estimated hundreds of people affected. Dozens of police officers and pyrotechnicians are heading to the scene.

The evacuation perimeter will cover around 400 meters, including family and apartment buildings, as well as smaller panel houses. The duration of the evacuation is uncertain, with the police unable to estimate how long it will take.

banking ČNB maintains interest rate at 7 percent

The Banking Council of the Czech National Bank (ČNB) decided at a meeting this afternoon the keep its base interest rate at 7 percent – a level it has been at since June 2022.

The ČNB also confirmed today that it would continue to intervene in exchange markets to prevent excessive fluctuations in the Czech crown. Higher interest rates create more expensive loans for investments and operations to businesses, and increase the costs of housing loans to households. The central bank is aiming for single-digit inflation in the second half of this year.

SPORT Petr Čech inducted into football Hall of Fame

Famous Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech was today inducted into the English football Premier League’s so-called Hall of Fame, becoming the 20th recipient of the award. 

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Čech holds the record for most clean sheets in the Premier League, keeping 202 clean sheets in 443 appearances for Chelsea and Arsenal. He is best remembered for his time at Chelsea, where he became a Premier League champion four times, and also won one European Champions League. Čech also represented Czechia 124 times.

SOCIETY Czech rights groups submit petition to change rape definition

The Czech branch of human rights organization Amnesty International and the Konsent women’s-rights group this afternoon have officially submitted a petition to the Czech government to change the legal definition of rape. Some will this afternoon march fro Prague's Rudolfinum to the Chamber of Deputies building in Prague's center to symbolically show the petition's submission.

Signed by over 16,500 people, the petition points out to the government that the current definition does not explicitly include the absence of consent. The state is planning two new draft versions of the law: one that is based on the absence of consent, and the other on the expression of the victim’s disapproval. 

LAW Czech anti-competitive unit gets access to wiretapped recordings

The Czech Office for the Protection of Competition will in specific cases be able to utilize access to police wiretapping recordings of telecommunication operations for the purposes of its work, the Chamber of Deputies announced today. It will only be possible to use the records if a legal case has already been launched. Only records made after the law officially comes into force can be accessed.

The purpose of this is to incriminate companies and individuals accused of anti-competitive behavior. The government proposal was approved by Czech members of parliament and Prime Minister Petr Fiala. 

TRANSPORT RegioJet signs contract to take over Prague-Brno rail line

Rail carrier RegioJet has today confirmed that it has signed a contract with the Ministry of Transport to take over the R9 train line that connects Prague and Brno. RegioJet – a Czech firm founded in 2009 – beat state rail company České dráhy in a tender process held in 2022. 

RegioJet will operate on the line from December 2026 and will have control over R9 for 15 years. The Czech firm promises passengers newer and faster trains, with more frequent connections.

banking Czech division of UniCredit makes 20 percent profit

The Czech and Slovak division of UniCredit Bank has announced that it made a net profit of CZK 2.2 billion in the first quarter of 2023 – a year-on-year increase of 19 percent.

The volume of UniCredit Bank's deposits rose by 12.1 percent annually, to CZK 522 billion in January-March. The volume of loans granted increased by 11.6 percent. The bank's net operating profit rose by 10.6 percent, to CZK 3.5 billion. Another major Czech bank,  Česká spořitelna, also recently published its financial results for the first quarter, revealing a CZK 3.3 billion yearly profit.

CRIME Prague train delays caused by shots in security device

Yesterday, railway traffic on the Prague-Lysá nad Labem line was disrupted due to a damaged cable on the security device between the Prague-Vysočany and Prague-Horní Počernice stops. The Railway Administration reported on Twitter that the security equipment was damaged by gunfire, and is dealing with the matter with the police.

Several regional connections were canceled, and express trains were diverted. There were no further details available, and ČTK is investigating the statement of the police.

PENSIONS Czech govt. to discuss introduction of referendum

The Czech government will discuss today the possibility of introducing a general referendum that will only be used if there is broad public support. The cabinet is expected to send a negative opinion on the draft constitutional law proposed by the opposition movement ANO, citing concerns that the petition threshold of 450,000 signatures is too low.

The government will also assess the use of funds for the Czech presidency of the EU in the second half of 2022, as well as ten investment incentives. Additionally, ministers will evaluate a proposal to introduce the Building Information Modelling method when awarding public contracts for construction works.

Ukraine EC will introduce act to support ammunition production

The European Commission will propose a law on ammunition production in the EU, which should speed up production on the continent, President Ursula von der Leyen announced in Prague. She also thanked Czech citizens for their solidarity with Ukrainian refugees. Von der Leyen has been supporting Ukraine in terms of material supplies, especially ammunition, which is currently essential for the defense of Ukraine and its possible counter-offensive.

The EU states must create a counterbalance in strategic competition with China that does not share common values with democratic states. The draft legislation will also include financing of about EUR 500 million, with co-financing from member states, it will be EUR 1 billion.

Prague Firefighters contain minor fire in National Theatre

On Tuesday evening after 8 p.m., a capacitor in the electrical substation of the National Theatre in Prague caught fire, leading to the deployment of professional firefighting units to the scene. The fire was contained by the firefighters, who used portable fire extinguishers and ventilated part of the technical room.

There was no need for volunteer firefighters to intervene, and the cause of the fire was determined to be a technical fault. The damage caused by the fire was estimated at CZK 50,000.

Politics President Pavel weighs in on pension reform

President Petr Pavel has praised a draft pension reform presented to him by the Czech Republic's Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Marian Jurečka. He said the plan, which is expected to be made public in mid-May, was well thought-out and could help stabilize the country's pension system.

The reform seeks to moderate the growth of pensions, as expenditure in the area has risen quickly in recent years, with a deficit of around CZK 60 billon (USD 2.6 billion) forecast for this year. Pavel urged the government to try and gain the support of the opposition for the plan.

Int'l relations Czech ForMin meets Blinken in Washington D.C.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a meeting to discuss the strengthening of bilateral relations, support for Ukraine, cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, energy security, and defense cooperation. The two officials agreed on the need to deliver ammunition to Ukraine, which has been facing Russian aggression for 15 months.

The talks also touched on the possibility of a visit to the White House by the Czech prime minister or president, and the issue of China, which has closely followed the development of the Russian war against Ukraine. The Czech Republic recently approved the Defence Cooperation Agreement between the United States and the Czech Republic, which would make the possible deployment of American troops in Czech territory easier.

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