News in brief for Sept. 17: Top headlines for Czechia on Sunday

Thousands take part in anti-government protest in Prague, Czech firefighters honored for Greek wildfire assistance, and more weekend headlines. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 17.09.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 18.09.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

Employment Czech President signs Labor Code amendment into law

President Petr Pavel signed an amendment to the Czech Labor Code into law before heading to New York this morning. Among other measures, the amendment introduces the controversial possibility of additional overtime work in the healthcare sector. The amendment aims to address the shortage of doctors, especially in small hospitals, where overtime is currently managed through contracts for work.

Critics argue that it could roughly double the number of overtime hours for doctors and paramedics, while Health Minister Vlastimil Válek emphasizes the need for a comprehensive reform to improve the functioning of the healthcare system. The changes outlined in the amendment will take effect in phases, with some coming into force from October and others from January.

Economy Czech mortgage rates to remain high, cautions economist

Mortgage rates won't get significantly lower by the end of the year, Jakub Seidler, Chief Economist for the Czech Banking Association, cautions in an interview with Although interest rates may drop slightly by the end of 2023, the Czech National Bank's rate reductions won't immediately translate directly to mortgage rates, and instead result in a gradual decline.

Real interest rates remain negative, but the high mortgage rates still restrict many households from borrowing despite inflation. Rising property prices, driven by low rates and investor interest, pose a challenge as household incomes lag behind, potentially intensifying housing issues.

Politics Pavel to decide on presidential pardons beginning in January

Czech President Petr Pavel will begin reviewing pardon applications from Jan.1, the Czech Justice Ministry announced today. This decision restores the president's constitutional power to grant pardons, following a regulation in 2013 that transferred the authority to the Justice Ministry during the tenure of former President Miloš Zeman.

Justice Minister Pavel Blažek stated that he welcomed the move. Staff handling pardon applications will transition from the ministry to the Presidential Office, although the specific individuals chosen for these roles will be at the president's discretion. Pavel has also hinted at revising pardon criteria to consider social reasons.

Sports Czech javelin thrower Vadlejch wins Diamond League in Eugene

In an impressive display of javelin throwing, Jakub Vadlejch claimed his third athletic Diamond League title, triumphing over reigning world and Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra. Vadlejch's formidable performance, with a throw of 84.24 meters in Eugene, Oregon, secured the coveted diamond trophy.

Vadlejch's victory marks his third Diamond League win, following his previous triumphs in 2016 and 2017. This achievement solidifies his status as an elite javelin thrower heading into next year's Olympic Games in Paris.

Culture Kralice Bible Memorial reopens after three-year restoration

The Kralice Bible Memorial in Kralice nad Oslavou in the Třebíč region has reopened to the public after a comprehensive three-year renovation. As part of the commemoration of Printers' Day, visitors were treated to the Art of Book Printing exhibition and a glimpse of the Unity of the Brethren printing house in Kralice.

The memorial features a rich collection of unique exhibits, including original examples of letterpress art from the late 15th and early 16th centuries, books from renowned Prague printers, and significant prints including parts of the Kralice Bible and Blahoslav's translation of the New Testament.

Sports Czech Republic tops Serbia in Davis Cup qualifiers

Jiří Lehečka topped Lasl Djer 7-6, 7-5 to give the Czech Republic a 3-0 victory over Serbia in Davis Cup qualifiers on Saturday. Both the Czech Republic and Serbia had already clinched an advance to the next round of the tournament, to be held in Spain in November, after defeating Spain and South Korea.

"It's something we certainly didn't expect at the beginning of the year or after the draw. It's a big surprise, but we deserved it. We played well here and showed that we have to beat such players," Lehečka told reporters after the match. "We showed that the Czech Republic is back and we can be very productive once again in the Davis Cup."

Protest Thousands take part in anti-government protest in Prague

Thousands gathered for an anti-government protest organized by the non-parliamentary party PRO (Právo Respekt Odbornost) at Prague's Wenceslas Square on Saturday. According to media reports, an estimated 10,000 people attended the protest; PRO claims that 101,000 people took part.

The protest began at 2 p.m. and included a march through Prague to the Ministry of the Interior's headquarters. Speakers criticized the Czech government under Prime Minister Petr Fiala, highlighting high energy prices and a perceived lack of economic recovery following the pandemic.

Aid Czech firefighters honored for Greek wildfire assistance

Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan awarded medals to firefighters and rescue workers who aided in extinguishing a massive wildfire in Greece at the NATO Days event in Mošnov on Saturday. Approximately 140 Czech team members participated in the firefighting effort in Greece, where the largest European wildfire in over two decades occurred, scorching 100,000 hectares.

Rakušan praised their professionalism and humanity in aiding affected individuals. Vladimír Vlček, director general of the Czech Fire and Rescue Service, commended the diverse personnel involved, including the Prague City Emergency Medical Service, highlighting their ability to assist during major emergencies abroad without compromising national safety.

Crime Man arrested at Prague protest for denying genocide

During the anti-government demonstration at Prague's Wenceslas Square on Saturday, police arrested a man suspected of crimes related to the denial of genocide. The police reported that the detained individual was wearing a symbol supporting Russian aggression on his T-shirt.

"Police officers from the extremism and terrorism department of the Prague police arrested a man suspected of denying, questioning, approving and justifying genocide on Wenceslas Square. He was wearing a symbol of support for Russian aggression," police noted on social media.

Economy Czech Post to lay off another 282 employees

Following similar moves earlier this year, Czech Post will be laying off an additional 282 employees by the end of the year, with the majority occupying managerial, administrative, and support roles across central post offices in the country. This move is part of cost-saving measures aimed at achieving savings of 200 million crowns in the coming year, according to Miroslav Štěpán, authorized deputy director general of Czech Post.

The reduction in workforce is a result of earlier systemic measures, including the closure of 300 branches and adjustments to delivery schedules. The company is undergoing a transformation into a state service provider and commercial delivery company, Balíkovna, following government approval earlier this year.

Culture 80+ Czech institutions to participate in Night of Scientists

The Night of Scientists in the Czech Republic will feature nearly 80 institutions opening their doors to visitors on Friday, Oct. 6, under this year's theme, "The Secret." The event, coordinated nationally by two Ostrava universities along with the University of Ostrava, is celebrating its sixth edition.

Typically held on the last Friday in September across Europe, this year's date was postponed by a week to avoid clashing with the Sept. 28 national holiday. An online program will be available on the original date, Sept. 29. The Night of Scientists offers over 1,300 activities, including lectures, demonstrations, workshops, and more, to engage visitors of all ages in scientific exploration.

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