News in brief for Sept. 19: Top headlines for Czechia on Tuesday

Czech govt. won't sanction cars with Russian plates, critical shortage of pediatricians ongoing, and more top headlines for Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 19.09.2023 08:41:00 (updated on 19.09.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

economy Czech inflation rate second-highest in EU

The inflation rate in the European Union fell to 5.9 percent in August, with Hungary and the Czech Republic having the highest rates at 14.2 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively, according to EU statistical office Eurostat. In the eurozone, the inflation rate dropped to 5.2 percent, and Denmark had the lowest inflation at 2.3 percent in August.

Prices of services contributed the most to overall inflation, followed by the food, alcohol, and tobacco categories. Compared to July, prices in the EU rose by half a percent. In August 2022, the inflation in the Czech Republic stood at 17.1 percent.

Accident Student falls from second floor of Czech school

A pupil fell from a second-floor window at Boskovice grammar school, with details being withheld due to the student's age. Emergency services, including a helicopter, responded, and the student was airlifted to Brno Children's Hospital. Initially described as having suffered moderate injuries, the hospital later clarified the student had severe polytrauma.

The incident occurred at the end of a lesson, raising questions about prevention. Parents and students at the school remained largely uninformed about the event. The Gymnázium Boskovice is the oldest school in the Blansko district, offering four- or eight-year programs and is subsidized by the South Moravian region.

International Adding new EU languages could impact budget

The Spanish EU presidency's proposal to add Catalan, Basque, and Galician as official EU languages was met with concern by Czech Minister Martin Dvořák, who deemed it surprising and added it may impact EU countries and their budget. Dvořák anticipates discussions among European affairs ministers and emphasizes the need for further documentation to make an informed decision, particularly concerning countries using non-official languages.

Currently, the EU recognizes 24 official languages. Additionally, EU ministers will explore a reform proposal from Germany and France addressing potential expansion to include the Western Balkans, Ukraine, and Moldova, introducing the concept of a "two-speed Europe."

Catalan, Basque, and Galician flags

science New government commissioner to oversee quantum technologies

New Czech government commissioner Petr Kavalir will coordinate and support the development of quantum technologies in the Czech Republic. The position, created by Deputy Prime Minister for Digitisation Ivan Bartoš and Minister for Science and Research Helena Langšádlová, aims to prepare the National Quantum Strategy.

Kavalir, currently the director of the New Technologies - Research Centre Institute at the University of West Bohemia, has experience in leading research projects and strategic partnerships. Quantum technologies are seen as a key element for the country's technological development and security.

CRIME Police apprehend 10 in MoD investigation

Today, the Prague police apprehended ten individuals as part of an ongoing investigation into Ministry of Defense procurement contracts related to servicing the microwave network. The Prague High Prosecutor's Office will decide on potential custody motions for the accused by Wednesday. Nine individuals initially faced charges, with the tenth detainee added later.

The exact nature of the alleged crimes has not been disclosed. The National Center Against Organized Crime (NCOZ) is conducting interventions at various army facilities in connection with this case. Businessman Jindřich Špringle, also involved in the Dosimeter case, is reportedly among those of interest in this investigation.

justice Czechia sent 8,403 people to prison in 2022

District and regional courts in the Czech Republic sent 8,403 people to prison last year, with theft being the most common crime leading to incarceration. The average length of an unconditional prison sentence in district courts was 13.6 months.

Drug manufacturers and distributors, tax delinquents, and murderers received the highest unconditional sentences from regional courts. The state currently spends CZK 1,850 per day on each prisoner. The Ministry of Justice plans to introduce amendments to the Criminal Code to reduce the prison population and promote alternative punishments, such as probation houses.

international Czech President meets South Korean counterpart

Czech President Petr Pavel and Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol discussed potential Korean investments in Czechia, including a gigafactory, nuclear energy, and high-speed lines. South Korean company KHNP is one of the bidders for a new unit at the Dukovany nuclear power plant.

Czech PM Fiala also spoke with South Korean PM Han Duck-soo about investment opportunities. South Korea is one of the Czech Republic's top non-European trading partners, offering opportunities in information and telecommunications technology.

energy ČEZ energy company extends Dukovany deadline

Czech energy company ČEZ has extended the deadline for final bids for the construction of a new nuclear unit in Dukovany until Oct. 31, after requests from interested parties. The initial bids were submitted by French company EDF, South Korean company KHNP, and North American Westinghouse last fall.

The bids have not been made public, but ČEZ will evaluate them and submit a report to the government for final approval. The project, estimated to cost around CZK 160 billion, is considered the largest investment in the Czech Republic's modern history.

CRIME Police raid Czech army headquarters

Police officers from the National Center Against Organized Crime (NCOZ) have conducted raids on the General Staff of the Czech Army and other locations, focusing on army contracts. The operation, overseen by the Prague High Prosecutor's Office, is shrouded in secrecy, with NCOZ spokesman Jaroslav Ibehej declining to disclose specific details about the locations involved. 

He stated that the NCOZ is conducting criminal proceedings, but further information is restricted and deferred to the High Prosecutor's Office in Prague. The nature and scope of the investigation remain undisclosed as authorities continue their actions.

Sanctions Czechia won't yet seize cars with Russian plates

The Czech Republic will not yet confiscate cars with Russian license plates, according to customs administration spokeswoman Hana Prudičová. The country does not want to impound vehicles that have already entered the Schengen zone.

Neighboring countries like Poland and the Baltic states have banned Russian-plated cars, but the Czech Republic says it has no external EU border to enact such a policy. Ministers are discussing potential legal changes to redistribute frozen Russian assets within the country to aid Ukraine's reconstruction.

society Hundreds of thousands of Czech children have no doctor

The Czech healthcare system is facing a crisis with 200,000 children lacking access to pediatricians, and a looming shortage as hundreds of pediatricians near retirement, reports Lidovky. Hospitals are struggling to meet demand, with vaccination supplies running low. Experts warn that the situation will worsen as an additional 700 to 900 doctors are expected to retire in the next decade.

The Health Information and Statistics Institute reported Monday that Czechia will soon face a critical shortage of nurses with 14 percent of general nurses working in Czechia over 60 and many needed due to the aging population.

ECONOMY Česká spořitelna to lay off hundreds of employees

Česká spořitelna (ČS), the largest bank in the Czech Republic, is set to lay off several hundred employees over the next nine months, reports E15. The bank's decision primarily targets managers and support and service personnel due to changing client preferences favoring online services. While downsizing, ČS plans to hire approximately 100 new employees in information technology and client care to adapt to evolving customer needs.

Despite the staff reduction, the bank does not intend to close branches. ČS currently has around 10,000 employees in the Czech Republic, and its move reflects a shift towards digital and personalized financial services amid a 16 percent year-on-year drop in net profit during the first half of this year.

culture Children's opera to be performed in Terezín after 80 years

German high school students will perform the children's opera Brundibár on the grounds of the Magdeburg barracks, 80 years after its premiere in the Terezín ghetto. The ensemble and orchestra from Wülfrath, Germany, rehearsed the opera and performed it in several countries, including Latvia and Israel.

The composer, Hans Krása, wrote the opera in 1938 but it didn't receive its premiere until 1942. Krása was transported to the Terezín ghetto and became involved in the cultural and musical program there. The original performance of Brundibár also took place in Terezín, and the show became popular despite the tragic fate of the child actors, who in many cases were sent to extermination camps after their performances.

education Prague faces shortage of school and kindergarten places

Prague is facing a shortage of kindergarten and primary school places, according to a forecast released today by the Institute of Planning and Development. The worst affected areas are Prague 5, 6, 9, and 10. Last year, there was a deficit of 106 kindergarten places, which is projected to increase to around 12,300 by 2050.

In primary schools, there were 9,744 vacant places last year, but the capacity is lower than the official register suggests. Prague is preparing an investment plan to address the shortage, including negotiations for state subsidies.

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