Europe is 'close to war,' says Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala

Plus: Czech Foreign Ministry to hold emergency meeting on Ukraine, start to 2022 is Czech Republic's windiest on record, and more weekend headlines. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 19.02.2022 11:57:00 (updated on 21.02.2022) Reading time: 6 minutes

2:45 Europe is "close to war," says Czech PM Fiala

The situation in Ukraine has become more and more serious every day and it is no exaggeration to say that Europe is close to war, Czech PM Petr Fiala said in a televised interview today on Czech Television. Fiala added that the probability of a peaceful solution has been shrinking.

The Russian troops along the Ukraine's borders are at a stage of readiness that will allow them to immediately attack, from both a technical and organizational point of view, Fiala said. The Czech PM praised the unity of the Allies and said he believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not expect the West's position to be so united. He also emphasized the Western states' readiness to impose sanctions on Russia in case of increased aggression.

History Czech town marks 78 years since downing of American bomber

Dozens of people attended a ceremony in Nepomuk, West Bohemia yesterday that marked the 78th anniversary of the downing of a U.S. Liberator bomber aircraft by Nazi forces in the nearby Dubce area on February 22, 1944. Ten of the eleven U.S. soldiers aboard the bomber died; it was one of the first U.S. planes to be shot down over the Czech Republic during WWII. The identity of the crew members was confirmed only in the 1990s, when historians uncovered dog tags belonging to the pilots.

The ceremony in Nepomuk is held annually, but was not held last year due to the coronavirus epidemic. Yesterday, 30 historic U.S. military vehicles led a procession from the town to the site of the crash in Dubce, four kilometers away. Officials laid wreaths at a memorial to the bomber by Czech sculptor Vaclav Fiala that includes ten granite cubes in remembrance of the crew members who died.

Politics Czech Foreign Ministry to hold emergency meeting on Ukraine today

The crisis staff of the Czech Republic's Foreign Ministry will hold an emergency meeting today to discuss escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský will chair the meeting, and hold a press conference afterwards to announce any potential steps to be taken by Czech diplomacy.

The Czech Republic continues to condemn actions taken by Russia at the Ukrainian border, and push for a peaceful resolution. "We are calling on Russia to solve the situation using diplomatic and peace means," the Czech Foreign Ministry wrote yesterday. "The crisis staff will also discuss recent developments in advance of the upcoming meeting of the EU's Foreign Affairs Council on Monday."

Weather Start to 2022 is Czech Republic's windiest on record

The start of 2022 has been unusually windy in the Czech Republic. The Czech mountain Sněžka, the highest peak in Bohemia, saw winds higher than 103 km per hour on 20 days in January. Winds above 103 kilometers per hour are considered a "violent storm" on the Beaufort scale.

Sněžka's number of days with violent storms in January set a new record, and is twice as many as the average January, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute. February has also been unusually windy, with high winds measured at both mountaintop summits and meteorological stations in lower altitudes, including Prague. A warning for strong winds is in effect for most of the Czech Republic through Tuesday.

Sports Czech Olympic heads have high hopes for future games

Speaking to journalists in Beijing at the close of the Olympic Games, Czech Olympic Committee chair Jiří Kejval and mission head Martin Doktor praised the success of Czech Olympic athletes and particularly medal winners Ester Ledecká and Martina Sáblíková. Kejval praised the way Czech athletes presented themselves in China, while Doktor said he did not consider two medals, the fewest for the Czech team since 1994, to be a failure.

Both Olympic leaders expressed high hopes for the Czech team at the next Winter Olympic Games, which will take place in Italy in 2026. Doktor, a former sprint canoeist, won two gold medals at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. His mother famously brought Czech flour to the United States so she could make him proper dumplings during the Olympic Games.

Tech Poll: one-quarter of Czechs over 55 don't use the internet

Around 25 percent of Czechs over the age of 55 don't use the internet at all, according to a new poll released by Czech antivirus company Avast. Another 40 percent of Czech over this age are only occasional users, while 35 percent of Czechs over this age consider themselves regular internet users.

According to the poll, conducted by the YouGov Research Institute in September 2021, around 70 percent of Czechs over 55 said the internet was too complex, and about the same percentage expressed fear of cyber threats. Among those who don't use the internet at all, 85 percent expressed no need to use it.

Saturday, February 20

ZOO Prague Zoo closed due to high winds; plans to reopen Sunday

Prague Zoo has closed for the second straight day due to high winds and the danger of falling trees on Saturday. The zoo informed members of the public about the closure earlier this morning. According to officials, staff members will work on maintenance during the day today and plan to re-open the popular destination from Sunday.

"The damage [caused by winds] around ​​the zoo is not significant, it is mostly fallen branches and trees. I assume [the zoo] will be open tomorrow. It is closed mainly for the safety of visitors," Prague Zoo Director Miroslav Bobek told local media. "During strong winds, some dangerous species of animals are kept indoors due to possible damage to their enclosures," he added.

Weather Czech capital warns citizens to avoid parks and forests

Prague has warned its residents to avoid going into parks, forests, and other areas due to the risk of falling trees under high winds during the day on Saturday. The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has issued a warning of high winds across the entire Czech Republic through 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.

"We want to draw attention to the strong winds that have hit Prague!" the City of Prague wrote on social media late Friday evening. "Please do not go into forests, parks and other similar places if possible. At the same time, we recommend that you exercise caution while traveling around Prague."

World "We stand with Ukraine," says Czech Foreign Ministry

The Czech Foreign Ministry has condemned Russia's actions in the territory of Ukraine and has called on Moscow to stop escalating the situation and spreading disinformation about developments in Donbas. "We #StandWithUkraine," the ministry tweeted on Friday evening.

Increasing tensions at the border between Ukrainian and Russian border continue into the weekend. Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council head Oleksiy Danilov has accused Russia of provoking a reaction from the Ukrainian military. He added that Kiev will continue attempts to end the crisis in the relations between Ukraine and Russia only by peaceful means.

Entertainment British studios buy film rights to Czech-produced video game

The post-apocalyptic video game DayZ, produced by Czech company Bohemia Interactive, has sold film production rights to a pair of British companies at the recent European Film Market event in Berlin. Face Fictions Productions and Infinitive Wisdom Studios tentatively plan to begin production on an adaptation of DayZ in early 2023.

"Excited to begin development on the DayZ movie with the visionary team at Face Fictions Productions and the brains behind the game at Bohemia Interactive," Infinitive Wisdom Studios tweeted last week. The survival game DayZ is set in the fictional post-Soviet republic of Chernarus following a zombie-like apocalypse.

Transport Prague trams to open front doors as of Monday

The front doors of Prague trams and buses have been closed since January 17 in efforts to protect drivers against the transmission of Covid-19, but they will reopen as of Monday, Prague's public transportation authority DPP has announced. The move has been coordinated after discussions with local hygienists.

In addition, Prague's metro will resume normal operation as of February 26. The metro is currently operating at reduced intervals due to a lower amount of traffic resulting from the pandemic, but will resume normal operation as of next weekend. "The city expects a complete resumption of full operation from March 21," DPP spkesperson Aneta Řehková added.

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