News in brief for Oct. 5: Top headlines in Czechia for Thursday

Forbes reveals list of richest Czechs, govt. approves a new defense strategy, and more top headlines for Oct. 5, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 05.10.2023 08:41:00 (updated on 05.10.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

Consumers Lidl launches discounts for seniors

In response to rising food prices and inflation concerns, Lidl is offering a special discount for seniors over the age of 65. From Oct. 9 to Oct. 15, Lidl stores will provide a 10 percent discount to seniors on frequently purchased items like fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, and unpackaged pastries.

Lidl has already reduced prices on over 400 products in its range compared to the previous year. This initiative, marking the International Day of Senior Citizens, aims to alleviate the financial burden on elderly customers, ensuring essential items remain affordable. The discount can be combined with other promotions and used multiple times during the offer period.

Border controls 69 migrants detained on first day of border checks

In response to an uptick in refugee arrivals, the Czech Republic initiated random border checks with Slovakia on Wednesday, resulting in the arrest of 69 migrants and the detention of four smugglers on the first day. The detained individuals are under investigation for their involvement in organizing illegal border crossings. Similar measures have been implemented by Poland and Austria along the Slovak border, aimed at curbing illegal entries, particularly by those seeking to move further west.

Germany has also initiated border checks with the Czech Republic and Poland due to concerns about unauthorized migrant arrivals. The Czech Republic last imposed such controls in February following an influx of migrants, but the current numbers are lower, thanks to enhanced cooperation with neighboring countries.

ANIMALS Police find giant boa constrictor coiled near bins in Brno

Police officers in Brno have reported discovering a massive 1.5-meter-long snake, believed to be a boa constrictor, coiled on the ground near some bins. A specialist from the trapping service, along with a dog handler patrol, placed the snake in a bag and handed it over to animal control.

It remains unclear how the snake ended up there, whether it was intentionally abandoned or escaped from someone's home.

INDUSTRY Passenger-car sales accelerate to 17 percent year on year

According to new data from the Association of Automobile Importers, sales of new passenger cars in the Czech Republic have shown significant growth. In the first three quarters of this year, car sales increased by almost 16.5 percent compared to the same period last year, reaching a total of 167,564 vehicles. 

Notably, sales have grown in all calendar months, with September witnessing a rise of over 15.5 percent in registrations. Škoda Auto remains the leading manufacturer, with a 35.2 percent increase in sales, followed by Hyundai and Volkswagen. The most popular car models are Škoda Octavia, Škoda Fabia, and Škoda Scala. 

ENVIRONMENT Energy consumptions falls 9 percent in Q3 due to photovoltaics

According to meteorological services firm Amper Meteo, the implementation of energy-saving measures and the rapid growth of solar power contributed to a 9.1-percent reduction in electricity consumption during the third quarter of this year, taking into account weather adjustments. This marks the largest savings since last year.

Solar power plants, on the other hand, produced 44 percent more electricity than the long-term average. The connection of new solar power sources with a capacity of 300 megawatt-hours contributed to this increase. The rise in energy costs during the summer months is mainly attributed to air conditioning, although many households use electricity from their rooftop solar panels to cover these costs. Larger businesses benefit from installed rooftop solar panels to reduce cooling expenses and maintain a comfortable work environment.

POLITICS ANO collects enough votes for no-confidence motion against govt

The opposition ANO movement has gathered the required signatures for a vote of no confidence in the government. However, it has decided not to submit them yet. ANO intends to call a vote on whether Prime Minister Petr Fiala should retain Interior Minister Vít Rakušan, whom they accuse of downplaying reports of possessing an encrypted phone.

All 71 ANO members have signed the petition. Former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has written a letter to President Petr Pavel to explain the situation. According to ANO, the president lacks sufficient information about the encrypted phone issue.

Politics Czech govt. approves defense strategy

The Czech government has approved a new Defense Strategy that responds to deteriorating security in Europe following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The 10-year strategy, a basic guideline for Czech defense policy and capabilities, highlights membership in NATO as key to security.

It calls for sufficient investment in the Army to develop capabilities while also stressing the need for cooperation across government, with society as a whole, and the defense industry for effective defense. The strategy defines goals and tools for Czech defense amid the largest military conflict in Europe since WWII on its borders.

Int'l relations Israeli PM to visit Prague on Monday

The Israeli cabinet will visit Prague on Monday for intergovernmental consultations with the Czech government, the first such talks since 2016. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Czech officials including Prime Minister Petr Fiala to discuss political, economic, security, and technology cooperation.

Netanyahu is also slated to meet with leaders of both houses of Parliament and opposition representatives. The visit comes as Netanyahu faces criticism at home over judicial and coalition issues. It marks the fifth intergovernmental forum between the Czech Republic and Israel.

Economy Forbes release list of richest Czechs

Czech billionaire Renáta Kellnerová and her family top the latest Forbes list of the richest people in the Czech Republic with CZK 378 billion in assets. Energy investor Daniel Křetínský rises to second worth CZK 211 billion, overtaking Karel Komárek of KKCG Group in third at CZK 186 billion. Coal and power tycoon Pavel Tykač ranks fourth with CZK 183 billion, while former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš places fifth with CZK 170 billion.

Overall, the 100 richest Czechs are worth around CZK 2.5 trillion, up from last year. Four newcomers joined the ranking led by FTMO trading company founders worth CZK 8.8 billion. Real estate, technology, and energy figures fill out the top ranks.

Enivronment Activists call for protection of Czech forests

Greenpeace activists brought replicas of tree stumps and crosses with ancient forest names to the headquarters of state forest agency Lesy ČR in Hradec Králové Wednesday, calling for stronger protection of forests over 120 years old. Activists say the 4.5 percent of Czech forests in that age group under Lesy ČR management, totaling some 54,000 hectares, are rich in biodiversity and home to protected species.

While praising past efforts, Greenpeace campaign head Nikol Krejčová said meeting demands to preserve those at-risk woods "is an easy requirement" for the agency overseeing 1.2 million forest hectares.

Science 'Megabugs' exhibit opens in Brno

An exhibition featuring enlarged sculptures of insects and other invertebrates opened Oct. 5 at the Brno exhibition center. The exhibit, called Megabugs (Megabrouci), includes 20 oversized sculptures ranging from one to five meters long created by sculptor Michal Olšiak over the past 10 years.

Olšiak was inspired to begin the project after enlarging images of everyday objects for his sons and being amazed by the intricate details visible. Each sculpture in the exhibit took hundreds of hours to faithfully replicate every detail observed under macro lenses. The exhibition also includes recorded sounds of the creatures and photos.

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