News in brief for May 5: Pavel gifted special gun to Zelenskiy

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Friday, May 5, 2023, updated regularly to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 05.05.2023 08:04:00 (updated on 05.05.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Czech president – 'I have a sentimental attachment to the UK'

Czech President Petr Pavel told journalists in London this afternoon that he was “really looking forward” to the coronation of King Charles III and expressed his very positive views of the UK. 

Pavel noted that he took everything about the country somewhat personally, as he has spent a large part of his life there. The Czech president studied at the UK’s Royal College of Defense Studies and also graduated from King's College London with a Master's degree in international relations.

SPORT Sparta Prague needs to move stadium, commercial director says

According to the director of football club Sparta Prague’s commercial department Tomáš Křivda, Sparta will need to leave their Letná stadium in the future and move to a new one in the capital. 

The club hopes to improve comfort and capacity for fans. Expanding the current stadium is out of the question due to space constraints. Strahov is considered the most favorable location of the next stadium, Křivda says, because the club already has a training center in the area. However, he noted that construction “is definitely not the horizon of the next few years.”

EVENT World War II liberation event gets underway in Pilsen

The four-day Celebration of Freedom that marks the end of World War II has this afternoon started in Pilsen, which was liberated in 1945 from the Nazis. Around 90,000 people are expected to attend the event, which will feature vehicles (including aircraft) used in the war, as well as equipment and army uniforms. 

The event marks the Czech and U.S. soldiers whose lives were taken during the war in Czechia. The highlight of the festival is the famous Convoy of Liberty parade, which features 280 historical military vehicles that will transport around 1,000 people.

DIPLOMACY Pavel handed Zelenskiy special gun, manufacturers say

Czech President Petr Pavel donated a special, hand-engraved CZ 75 pistol to his Ukrainian counterpart during his April visit to Ukraine, manufacturers of the weapon said this afternoon. 

The model of the gun was from the so-called Order of the White Lion edition, created to mark 100 years since the creation of Czechia’s highest state award. It was made by a company belonging to large arms supplier, Colt CZ Group. The company is also auctioning a non-fungible token (NFT) of the same gun model online, to help financially support Ukraine.

economy Retail sales continue slump in Czechia

According to a data release from the Czech Statistical Office today, retail sales in Czechia decreased by 8.1 percent year on year in March, accelerating from 6.8 percent in the previous month. This marks the 11th consecutive month of decline. 

Year-on-year sales for non-food goods fell by 9.7 percent, and food sales slumped by 8.7 percent. Fuel sales, however, increased by 2.4 percent.  Specialized stores with household products saw one of the biggest sales decreases year on year, at 18.4 percent.

EVENT Belarusian truck driver in Czechia caught with untaxed alcohol

Customs officers in Czechia have discovered about 12,000 liters of untaxed alcohol in the truck of a Belarusian truck driver during a random check on the D35 motorway.

The total value of the (attempted) tax evasion is estimated at CZK 2 million, according to the Customs Office for the Olomouc Region. The driver’s drinks and truck were seized, and he risks a fine of over CZK 1 million.

COMPANIES Czech Railway Administration reports big loss

The Czech Railway Administration reported a CZK 5.3 billion deficit last year, a year-on-year widening of CZK 3.6 billion. Total revenue decreased by CZK 6 billion. The main cause was spending on energy and material, which increased 40 percent.

 Last year, the Railway Administration reconstructed 68 station buildings and commissioned 30 kilometers of new track from České Budějovice to Prague. State rail company České dráhy lost control of the main rail line connecting Prague to Brno; RegioJet will take it over in 2026.

CORONATION Czech president and First Lady depart for coronation

President Petr Pavel and his wife Eva flew on a regular flight to London for the coronation of King Charles III, as the president will represent the Czech Republic at the British coronation for the first time ever. The president posted a photo of he and the First Lady on his Facebook account yesterday evening.

The coronation will take place at Westminster Abbey, and around 2,000 people have been invited, including British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron. The last time Czechoslovakia was represented at a coronation was in 1953, where an ambassador attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Politics Opposition wants to cancel pension valorization

The Czech opposition movement ANO plans to submit a proposal to the Constitutional Court to cancel part of the government's amendment to shorten the June valorization of pensions. The amendment reduces the average monthly pension increase from June to CZK 760 instead of the expected CZK 1,770, saving the state CZK 19.4 billion.

Party leaders argue that the law is retroactively invalid and was approved in a state of legislative emergency. The government maintains the reduction in valuation is necessary to stabilize public finances. The cabinet is preparing proposals for changes to the pension system in mid-May.

WWII Monument to Czechoslovak airmen unveiled in Holland

A monument to six Czechoslovak airmen who died when their British RAF bomber crashed in the Netherlands in the village of  Nieuwe Niedorp during World War II has been unveiled. The Vickers Wellington 1c T2990 aircraft, belonging to the 311th Czechoslovak Bomber Squadron RAF, was shot down in June 1941 on its return from a bombing raid. Vilém Bufka was the only survivor.

The six crew members' names are inscribed on the monument alongside the words "In memory of those who fought for our freedom". The discovery of the wreckage was part of a Dutch program to enable missing pilots and crew members to be buried and to give relatives certainty about their fate.

BUSINESS Sale of Czech logistics company may be year's largest transaction

The Packeta Group, which owns logistics company Zásilkovna, is reportedly up for sale in one of the biggest business transactions in the Czech Republic this year, HN reports. The company stated that it wanted to take advantage of high investor interest and use funds and know-how to further grow and strengthen its market position.

The sales process is being managed by two corporate and financial consulting companies, and the deal is expected to be completed by the end of the year, with a potential sale price in the higher billions of crowns. Packeta reported long-term operating and net profit and transported nearly 90 million shipments in 2021.

agriculture African swine fever detected in Liberec

The African swine fever has spread to the Liberec region in Czech Republic after a wild pig was confirmed to be infected in Ralsko. The state veterinary administration has implemented extraordinary veterinary measures in an area of over 230 square kilometers, which includes 14 cadastral territories of municipalities in the former Ralsko military area and extends beyond Mách lake.

The measures include prohibiting hunting of game and feeding of wild pigs, restricting movement of residents outside marked paths, and hunting for and collecting dead wild boars. The disease is not dangerous for humans or dogs but they can be carriers.

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