News in brief for Sept. 1: Top headlines for Czechia on Friday

Czech president expresses reservations about pension amendment, Czech women dies is New Zealand, and more headlines for Friday, Sept. 1. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 01.09.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 01.09.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

society Prague allocates CZK 65M to help Ukrainian child refugees

Prague City Hall has allocated CZK 65 million to support 64 projects helping Ukrainian child refugees. The funding, previously provided by UNICEF, will be used for community centers, language courses, psychological counseling, and other integration measures.

The support aims to address the social cohesion and mental well-being challenges faced by young Ukrainians in Czech society. Officials confirm that the assistance will persist in the future, even if UNICEF redirects its funding. The organization is currently determining new priorities for future support.

UKRAINE Czech sniper fighting with Ukrainian separatists sentenced

Alojz Polák, a fugitive who fought with Ukrainian separatists, has been sentenced to 21 years in prison by a Czech court. Polák, a 51-year-old man from Brno, was found guilty of killing at least four Ukrainian government unit members as a sniper between 2016 and 2020. The prosecutor had sought a 25-year sentence.

The defense immediately appealed, claiming Polák was deceased. The court's decision came after multiple trials, with previous convictions not including the killings. Polák's Facebook status, claiming four kills, was initially deemed insufficient evidence but later supported by an expert military statement. The conflict in Eastern Ukraine began in 2014.

BUSINESS Agrofert sells media firm Mafra

Agrofert, formerly owned by ex-Prime Minister Andrej Babiš's trust funds, has finalized the sale of Synthesia, a chemical company, along with media firm Mafra and Londa to entrepreneur Karel Pražák's Kaprain group. Pavel Heřmanský, Agrofert's spokesperson, announced the deal, pending assessment by antimonopoly authorities. Agrofert's chairman, Zbyněk Průša, highlighted the move's strategic importance, allowing them to concentrate on core business sectors.

Pražák sees the acquisition of Synthesia as a significant boost to Europe's specialty chemicals market, while the purchase of Mafra and Londa marks his group's entry into a new industry, including radio stations Impuls and RockZone. The sale aligns with new regulations barring top politicians, including MPs like Babiš, from owning media companies starting next year.

TRAVEL Prague to New York flight makes emergency landing

A Delta Airlines Boeing 767 departing from Prague Airport en route to New York experienced engine trouble shortly after takeoff on Friday. The aircraft had to return to Prague Airport after only a few minutes in the air.

According to Fire Department spokesman Daniel Fík, the incident was due to an engine problem, with black smoke visible but no fire reported. The plane took off 20 minutes behind schedule at 12:30 p.m., and the return occurred after another 20 minutes. Firefighters are on the scene, and further details about the incident are pending.

politics Nerudová to lead STAN in European elections

Danuše Nerudová, economist and former presidential candidate, and Jan Farský, former MP, have been named as the leaders of the Mayors and Independents movement (STAN) for the European elections. STAN plans to present its full candidate list, including other pro-European personalities, in January 2024.

The movement aims to establish itself as a liberal force focused on security, self-sufficiency, climate protection, euro adoption, and regional cooperation. STAN hopes to secure at least three seats in the European Parliament and expects the campaign to cost around CZK 15 million.

economy PPF's property structure changes after share sale

PPF reported a change in the property structure, Forbes reports. Ladislav Bartoníček and Jean-Pascal Duvieusart, minority shareholders of PPF, sold their shares, making Renáta Kellnerová and her daughters Anna Kellnerová, Lara Kellnerová, Maria Kellnerová and son Petr Kellner the younger the sole owners. The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

The former shareholders are expected to receive billion-dollar payouts. Kellnerová expressed gratitude to Bartoníček and Duvieusart for their contributions. Although both managers remain active in the group in other capacities, the transaction signifies the end of an era for PPF.

politics President to veto or sign pension amendment in coming days

President Petr Pavel will decide whether to veto or sign the pension amendment in the coming days, according to presidential spokeswoman Markéta Řeháková. As such, the cabinet's desire for measures to take effect from Sept. 1 will not be possible. The Senate approved the bill, which is meant to reduce state debt, on Aug. 23.

The president, however, voiced some concerns about the proposed pension changes. In addition to discussing pensions, during a meeting on Thursday Pavel and Prime Minister Petr Fiala also talked about next year's budget, the consolidation package, nuclear energy, and ambassador proposals.

education Ukrainian children drive increase in Czech school enrollment

The number of children in schools in the Czech Republic increased during the 2022-2023 school year, primarily due to the enrollment of Ukrainian children. The total number of pupils in primary schools rose by 4.5 percent to 1,007,778, while kindergartens saw a 2.4 percent increase to 369,000 children.

There was also a 3.8 percent increase in secondary school students, reaching a total of 463,200. The number of Ukrainian schoolchildren increased fivefold compared to the previous year, with 50,849 enrolled in primary schools. Foreign nationals made up 7.2 percent of primary school children, with Ukrainians being the most prevalent.

Tragedy Czech woman dies in New Zealand car crash

A 32-year-old Czech woman has died in a car accident in New Zealand. The incident occurred while the woman was hiking Lake Waikaremoana on the North Island. New Zealand police are currently investigating the events surrounding the accident and have expressed condolences to the woman's family.

Her car is also being searched for, as she went on a one-day trip on Aug. 27. The woman's body was found after a single vehicle accident, and local community members aided in the search. The cause of the accident remains unclear. The news was confirmed by New Zealand police on Sept. 1.

Economy Industry leaders, company heads to meet in Prague

Industry leaders and major companies in the Czech Republic are convening in Prague today to outline their 30-year economic strategies. The Czech Republic at the Crossroads conference, organized by the Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with industry groups, will cover energy, transport, data infrastructure, and more. Prime Minister Petr Fiala will open the event.

Participants aim to address hindrances to economic growth while capitalizing on the nation's European centrality, industrial heritage, and thriving businesses. A survey revealing domestic entrepreneurs' satisfaction with strategic investments will be unveiled. Despite an initial economic dip, recent GDP data suggests the nation is emerging from recession.

cars Toyota factory shutdown extended due to missing parts

The unplanned shutdown at the Toyota car factory in Kolín will continue until at least Friday, Sept. 8. The factory stopped production due to missing plastic parts supplied by Novares CZ Zebrak, whose production and storage facilities were destroyed in a fire. Production resumption is uncertain.

Employees affected by the stoppages will receive 80 percent of their average salary, but most continue to go to work. Earlier this year, the carmaker also had production stoppages due to a lack of parts, resulting in an estimated 25,000 cars not being produced. The company produces about 1,000 cars a day.

football Sparta, Slavia, Pilsen score winning goals

Sparta Praha's footballers emerged victorious yesterday with a score of 4:1 in the European League (EL) play-off rematch against GNK Dinamo Zagreb, securing their spot in the basic group of this prestigious competition. In the first duel, Sparta suffered a 1:3 defeat, but Victor Olatunji's go-ahead goal near the end turned the tide in their favor.

Meanwhile, despite a 1:2 loss to Ukraine's FC Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League playoff rematch, Slavia sealed their place in the EL group yesterday thanks to their 2:0 home victory. Last but not least, Viktoria Pilsen secured a resounding 3:0 victory against FC Tobol at home, guaranteeing their participation in the Conference League group during the fall.

international Czech vandalism suspect flees Taiwan

Two men suspected of graffiti vandalism fled Taiwan for Japan, despite a nationwide manhunt in Taiwan involving over 200 officers, according to CNA. The suspects, a Czech and a German arrived in Taiwan on Aug. 22 and left for Tokyo on Aug. 25, flying from Taoyuan International Airport. Despite the police's efforts to track them down using CCTV footage and personal information left at a bank, the duo evaded arrest.

They are prime suspects in the vandalism of train carriages in Taichung, as well as other incidents in Kaohsiung, Taipei, and New Taipei. Both of them have been added to a wanted list and could face fines.

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