News in brief for May 18: Czechia faces Slovenia in Ice Hockey World Championship, Bohemian Switzerland on fire

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Thursday, May 18, 2023, updated throughout the day to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 18.05.2023 08:58:00 (updated on 18.05.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

POLITICS Fiala – govt. will discuss Istanbul Convention in late May

Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced in the Chamber of Deputies this afternoon that the Czech government will debate the Istanbul Convention (a treaty seeking to protect women against violence) at the end of this month. 

The subject is to be reviewed by both houses of parliament – President Petr Pavel this week spoke in favor of ratifying the convention. Some conservative senators said the convention would force changes to the Civil Code or the asylum law.

sport Czechia beating Slovenia in Ice Hockey World Championship

Czechia is currently facing Slovenia in the 2023 men’s Ice Hockey World Championship and is winning 3:2 in the third and final period after having been 0:2 down. The national team beat Slovakia 3:2 on May 12 and then scored an impressive 5:1 victory over Kazakhstan two days later.

However, Czechia was upset by co-hosts Latvia on May 15, and looks headed for another defeat. It will play Norway on May 20 and Canada on May 23. The top four teams in Czechia’s group (B) progress to the quarterfinals – the team is currently third.

COMPANIES Czech Post plans to strengthen its remaining branches

Czech Post plans to bolster its remaining branches as it plans for its widescale restructuring, in which 300 stores of the state postal carrier will be closed from July 1st. Approximately one-third of the 900 people who will be made redundant at the soon-to-close offices will be transferred to the remaining branches. 

The company does not anticipate a shift in opening hours, but changes may be made depending on demand. At the beginning of June, Czech Post will launch a public campaign regarding closed branches; people will receive leaflets with information on the location of their new branch.

event Fire breaks out in Bohemian Switzerland

A fire has broken out in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park between Pravčická brána and the German border. Regional firefighters have declared a third-degree fire alert – nine fire units were on the scene this afternoon as well as a rescue helicopter.

According to the national park’s spokesman Tomáš Salov, the fire was probably started by pyrotechnics set off by German visitors, who are ostensibly in the hands of the Czech police. The main ascending path in the park has been closed. 

JOBS Czechia has large shortage of bus and truck drivers

According to the Česmad Institute of Road Transport in Czechia, there is a shortage of about 25,000 professional bus and truck drivers in Czechia. This is an especially worsening scenario, as about 8,000 people stop practicing the profession every year. The low interest of young people and long amount of time to takes to employ foreigners worsens the situation, according to the institute.

According to the institute’s director Tomáš Bicera, the situation would be improved if 18-year-old drivers were able to obtain a heavy-truck driving license after completing a basic 140-hour training course.

BUSINESS Czech business expectations at highest since autumn 2021

According to the Czech Business Expectations Index survey conducted by Czech bank ČSOB, business optimism is fast-increasing in Czechia. Compared to autumn 2022, the index has jumped by 19.4 points, posting a positive reading of 3.7 percent. This is the first time since autumn 2021 that the index is in positive digits.

Half of the survey respondents expect a growth in demand in the second quarter, and 44 percent of companies and entrepreneurs expect an increase in investments for this year.

LAW Senior Czech ex-football referees in corruption case

Former Czech football referee Tomáš Grímm, along with the former Czech Football Association (FAČR) vice-chairman Roman Berbr, are currently facing a court hearing on allegations of corruption. Grímm confessed to receiving a bribe in 2019 worth about CZK 40,000 to influence a match in Czechia’s third tier. 

Berbr is said to have been the head of an organized group that participated in the match-fixing of 10 games in Czechia’s second and third divisions. The court alleges that Bebr used his dominant position in the FAČR and influenced the deployment of referees in certain Czech league matches.

WAR Czech volunteer injured in Russia, but safe

According to Jan Zamrazil, the chairman of the Health Assurance Association, a Czech volunteer in Ukraine has recently been severely injured in an accident, but his life is not in danger.

The volunteer, who primarily assisted in orphanages and humanitarian efforts without partaking in conflict, suffered the loss of several toes on one foot and a broken hand. As he is not insured, he will need an estimated CZK 70,000 for medical expenses. Another Czech volunteer recently died while assisting in Ukraine.

CRIME Man given jail sentence for wearing 'Z' symbol to rally

A Prague court has today given a man a six-month suspended sentence for approving war crimes. He was caught in an anti-government protest earlier this year wearing the military “Z” symbol (denoting support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine) and a Wagner Group (a Russian paramilitary organization) logo.

The court also banned him from the capital for one year and handed him a fine of CZK 12,000. The man indicted, Jakub Jašek, protests his innocence by saying that – despite wearing the memorabilia – he did not approve of war crimes. According to Jasek's defense lawyer, the man made a political gesture commenting on the situation and Jašek did not want to endorse the crimes.

Politics Czech government rejects surrogacy amendment

The Czech government has rejected an amendment proposed by opposition MPs from the ANO movement, which aimed to ban surrogate motherhood and trade in newborns. Instead, the government plans to address the issue of surrogate motherhood by preparing a substantive bill within a year.

The amendment sought to remove the mention of surrogate motherhood from the Civil Code and impose penalties, including up to ten years in prison, for customers of surrogacy services. The government believes that a complete ban on surrogacy is not appropriate and that regulation is necessary, considering the interests of the child and the mother. Currently, surrogacy is not explicitly regulated in Czech law, leading to an unregulated market.

Tragedy Police discover body of Czech tourist in New Zealand

Police in New Zealand have discovered a body during their search for a missing Czech tourist, potentially identifying it as 46-year-old Petr Čech, the country's 1News server reported. However, formal identification is still pending, and the cause of death remains unknown. The body was found in the Richmond Ranges, and it is currently being examined by the coroner.

Petr Čech was last seen on May 4 at Hunter Hut on Te Araroa Road, and his family and the authorities had expressed concern about his well-being due to adverse weather conditions in the area. Further information will be released once formal identification is completed.

Culture Two Czech films to be shown at Cannes Film Festival

The Cannes Film Festival has long courted controversy, dating back to a director's protests in 1968 and, this year, the recent standing ovation for Johnny Depp despite the domestic violence allegations that have made him a polarizing figure on the festival circuit. This year, films from acclaimed directors Wes Anderson, Ken Loach, Martin Scorsese, James Mangold, and Todd Haynes will be presented.

Czech films are also represented, with animator Daria Kashcheeva, showcasing her diploma thesis inspired by Greek myths, and Petr Pylypčuk presenting "Osmý den," a drama about growing up in a religious sect. Ken Loach's "The Old Oak" is considered a favorite for the Palme d'Or, while Aki Kaurismäki returns with "Fallen Leaves."

weather Summer temps heading to Czechia this weekend

The rainy period is coming to an end in the Czech Republic, and temperatures are set to significantly rise. While Friday will still be around 15 degrees Celsius, the weekend will bring summer-like temperatures of up to 26 degrees Celsius. Meteorologists predict even higher temperatures for Monday.

Recent days have seen scattered showers, with the highest rainfall recorded in the Beskydy and Jeseníky regions. Thursday's weather will be mostly cloudy, and some rain is expected in the eastern and southeastern parts of the country. Overall, the outlook for the next few days indicates a mix of sun, clouds, and occasional showers or thunderstorms.

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