News in brief for Sept. 30: Top headlines for Czechia on Saturday

Over 20,000 Czechia-based Slovaks vote in general election, university academics announce October strikes, and more headlines for Sept. 30, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 30.09.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 30.09.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

History Czech Senate remembers 1938 Munich Agreement

The Munich Agreement, which compelled Czechoslovakia to cede borderland to Nazi Germany 85 years ago, was showcased today at the premise of the Czech Senate in Prague. In the very room where the agreement was presented to Czechoslovak officials, historian Eduard Stehlík provided insights into the historical events.

The Munich Agreement's historical echoes have resurfaced amid Russian aggression in Ukraine. The 1938 pact, which saw Czechoslovakia relinquish the Sudetenland to Hitler's Germany, serves as a somber reminder of appeasement policies. A copy of the agreement has been on permanent display since 2008, underscoring its enduring significance.

Sports Czechia's volleyball team kicks off Olympic qualifiers

In Rio de Janeiro, Czech volleyball players are gearing up for an Olympic Games qualification match against reigning world champions Italy later today from 6:00 p.m. Prague time. This Group A match is a crucial step towards securing a spot in the Paris Olympics next year.

The Czech team ranks seventh on paper and faces higher-ranked opponents like Brazil, Iran, Cuba, Ukraine, Germany, and Qatar in upcoming matches. Success in these games not only means a shot at the Olympics but also a brighter future for Czech volleyball. The last Czech volleyball team to compete in the Olympic Games was in Moscow in 1980.

Crime Czech police arrest people smuggler transporting 33 migrants

A 33-year-old Belarusian has been arrested in the Czech Republic after being apprehended with 33 migrants, including a woman and three children, crammed into a VW Crafter van. Police officers from the Foreign Police Service Directorate stopped the vehicle during a roadside inspection on September 26. The incident occurred on the D1 highway towards Prague.

The migrants were taken into custody and issued exit orders since they lacked the necessary documents to stay in the Czech Republic. The driver, facing charges of organizing and enabling illegal border crossing, has been detained. Given the inhumane conditions, the smuggler could face up to eight years in prison.

Sports Czech hockey star Pastrňák scores twice in NHL preseason opener

In his first NHL preseason appearance this year, David Pastrňák of the Boston Bruins shone with a two-goal performance, earning him the first star of the game. However, despite his efforts, Boston fell to Philadelphia 3-4 in a shootout. Pastrňák, assisted by Pavel Zacha on one goal, couldn't find the net in the penalty shootout.

Meanwhile, Czech goalkeeper Daniel Vladař of the Calgary Flames showcased his skills, maintaining a clean sheet until the 59th minute. Nevertheless, Calgary eventually succumbed to Edmonton 1-2 in overtime. Vladař, who made 26 saves, was named the second star of the game.

Road Safety Czechia sees surge in traffic accidents in September

September witnessed a tragic surge in accidents on Czech roads, with 46 fatalities, five more than the previous year. This year's total road deaths have reached 356, up by 17 from last year. Notably, motorcyclists had a tragic month, with 14 fatalities, ten more than last year. Car drivers followed with 13 casualties, a five-death decrease from last year.

Pedestrians, cyclists, truck drivers, and car passengers also suffered losses. While overall accidents decreased by seven percent, fatalities rose, underscoring the need for enhanced road safety measures. Car drivers have accounted for 139 deaths this year, up by 12, while motorcycle rider fatalities increased by ten to 61 cases. Conversely, car passenger fatalities dropped by 18 to 35 deaths so far this year.

SLOVAK ELECTION Record number of Slovaks vote from abroad for 2023 election

A record-breaking 58,779 Slovaks have so far participated in their country’s early parliamentary elections that begin today through mail-in voting from abroad, with the highest number of envelopes – 23,486 – coming from the Czech Republic. This represents only a small portion of the estimated 4.3 million voters, of which 73,000 initially registered for postal voting. 

Unlike the Czech Republic, Slovakia doesn't permit voting at embassies. In Slovakia itself, polling stations will open on Saturday morning, with voting ending two hours before midnight. Those in Slovakia who registered for postal voting but didn't receive or send their envelopes can vote domestically.

ECONOMY Govt. submits 2024 state budget to Chamber of Deputies

On Friday, the government submitted next year's state budget draft to the Chamber of Deputies. The proposal outlines revenues of CZK 1.94 trillion and expenditures of CZK 2.192 trillion, resulting in a planned deficit of CZK 252 billion. Budget discussions commence in late October, needing approval by year-end to prevent a budget crisis. 

Although total state budget expenses are to decrease by 1.4 percent compared to this year, mandatory costs rise by 16.3 percent to CZK 1.39 trillion. Quasi-mandatory expenses – primarily state unit salaries – are set to decline to CZK 330.6 billion. Servicing the national debt sees a significant cost increase to CZK 94.97 billion, mainly in interest.

CZECH ROADS Czech highway modernization sees drop in noise

The recent modernization of the Czech D1 highway connecting Prague and Brno has exceeded expectations in reducing noise levels, the Ministry of Transport has reported. Measurements conducted by the Transport Research Center showed a noise intensity reduction of 3 to 6 decibels, surpassing the initial estimate of 2 decibels. 

Before the upgrade, noise levels ranged from 101 to 104 decibels, whereas post-reconstruction measurements indicate around 98 decibels. This 3-decibel reduction is equivalent to halving traffic intensity while maintaining the same passenger and freight traffic ratio. The project also produced a highway noise map for tracking noise development and behavior on different road surfaces.

COMPANIES Czech Post calls off Prague 4 branch sale

Czech Post has decided to cancel an auction for the sale of a property located in Prague 4. This move comes after facing criticism from representatives of the city of Prague, who argued that the auction's terms were discriminatory towards the city. While the Czech Post did not provide specific reasons for the cancellation, it is now actively seeking alternative solutions for dealing with the property.

Under the terms of the auction, the Czech Post had the authority to cancel the sale without the requirement to provide an explanation. In response to the cancellation, the state-owned enterprise is evaluating various options to address the situation and potentially generate revenue from the property's sale within the current year, as stated by Matyáš Vitík, the company's spokesperson.

education University lecturers announce strike over pay issues

Academics from Charles University and Palacký University in Olomouc, along with others from various Czech faculties, have announced Friday their plans to strike on Oct. 17 over insufficient wages and poor working conditions. The Hour of Truth initiative, representing humanities and social science teachers and students, reveals that the strike aims to highlight their inability to work under current conditions due to low earnings.

Their protest follows spring demonstrations in some cities due to inadequate salaries. The group demands adequate funding in the 2024 state budget to ensure decent wages and working conditions and urges a medium-term outlook aligning higher education expenses with GDP levels in line with OECD averages.

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