Regular siren tests restarting tomorrow across Czechia

Plus: Prague had a budget surplus last year, Moneta and Air Bank will not merge, and more. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 30.05.2022 17:17:00 (updated on 31.05.2022) Reading time: 7 minutes

May 31, 2022

Safety Regular siren tests to restart across Czechia

Regular siren testing will start on Wednesday, June 1. The siren will sound at noon for 140 seconds, preceded by an announcement in Czech explaining that it is only a test. This year, siren tests were canceled from March to May, mainly to prevent panic among Ukrainian refugees, according to the Czech Fire and Rescue Service. In the past, regular siren tests were canceled during the 2009 and 2013 floods, in 2010 at the US and Russian presidents' meeting in Prague, or four times in 2020 so as not to cause panic during the Covid lockdown.  

International relations Russian ambassador summoned over Czech real estate

Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Dvořák summoned Russian Ambassador to Prague Alexander Zmeyevsky this morning due to doubts over the use of Russian real estate in the Czech Republic, the Foreign Ministry has announced on its website. Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský says Russia is disrespecting the Vienna convention and local rules and laws. Lipavský recently formed a working group that is dealing with whether the real estate used by Russia in the Czech Republic still serves diplomatic activities. The ministry now records about 50 such real estate items.

Events Sting coming to O2 Arena

Sting will perform at the O2 Arena in Prague on Oct. 28 as part of his My Songs tour, concert organizer Live Nation announced. His son, singer Joe Sumner, will appear as a guest. The concert will feature songs from his days with the Police as well as solo material. Tickets go on sale on June 3. Sting appears relatively often in the Czech Republic. In 2017 he played at the Metronome Festival at Výstaviště in Prague's Holešovice, and a year later he and the Jamaican rapper Shaggy packed Prague Forum Karlín. He is also scheduled to finally play a long-delayed concert in the castle garden of Slavkov on July 31, 2022.

Phones ČTÚ makes another attempt to regulate market

The Czech Telecommunication Office (ČTÚ) has prepared a new proposal for regulating the wholesale mobile market. It wants to be able to directly regulate the prices of wholesale services for the three network operators T-Mobile, O2, and Vodafone. The proposal takes into account the European Commission’s comments. The public can now comment on the new proposal. The ČTÚ says retail prices of mobile services, especially data, are significantly higher in the Czech Republic than the European average and the wholesale prices the three companies offer to other operators are even higher than the retail ones, making it impossible for virtual operators to offer competitive tariffs.

Economy Prague spent the most on education and transport last year

Prague ended last year with a budget surplus of about CZK 15.99 billion, which is more year-on-year. Revenues reached approximately CZK 105.64 billion and expenditures CZK 89.65 billion. The city spent over CZK 14.7 billion on investments, which is also more year-on-year. Most revenue came from taxes, which reached CZK 70.72 billion, or about 13.5 billion CZK more than expected in the approved budget. Prague received the most money from value-added tax. The second highest amount was money from the state budget, amounting to almost CZK 28 billion. The highest spending was on education, at CZK 26.62 billion, and transportation, at CZK 22.5 billion.

Finance PPF announces cancelation of banking merger

The process to merge Moneta Money Bank and the Air Bank Group has ended due to the negative development of the economy. PPF and Moneta Money Bank announced the end of the merger in a press release. PPF spokesman Leoš Rousek said the preconditions under which the transaction was prepared have not been met. The plan to merge PPF's banking division, which includes Air Bank, Czech and Slovak Home Credit, and Benxy (Zonky), with Moneta Money Bank was approved by Moneta's shareholders in December 2021. The purchase price of Air Bank was set at CZK 25.9 billion acquisition value.

Culture Attendance dropped to half in first Covid year

The attendance of cultural events in the Czech Republic declined by almost 55 percent to some 45 million in the Czech Republic during 2020, the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ). The decline in the number of visitors affected primarily historical landmarks, libraries, cinemas, theaters, exhibitions, concerts, and festivals. Minus subsidies, the year ended in a deficit of CZK 6.6 billion in 2020, 2.2 billion more than in 2019. However, the sum was compensated by operational subsidies and sponsors' contributions of almost CZK 27 billion in total.

Defense Some 600 troops to join Ample Strike war games in Czechia

About 500 Czech and 100 foreign soldiers will take part in the international Ample Strike air training in the Czech Republic this year, the military said on its website. The ninth training will take place between Aug. 29 and Sept. 16. The main goal of the exercise is to harmonize the activities of forwarding air controllers with the crews of the aircraft and commanders on the ground. The training will be attended by troops from Estonia, Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the U.S. It will be held at the airports in Náměšť nad Oslavou in South Moravia, Čáslav in Central Bohemia, and Kbely near Prague, and in the training grounds Boletice and Libavá and near České Budějovice, South Bohemia. For the first time, the Air National Command Center in Stará Boleslav, Central Bohemia, will join the control of air operation.

Covid Industry Minister Síkela tests positive for Covid

Industry and Trade Minister Jozef Síkela has tested positive for Covid and has been in isolation since Friday, working from his home office, Síkela tweeted. He is one of many Czech elected officials who have contracted the novel coronavirus, including President Miloš Zeman and members of the previous and current governments. Out of the present cabinet, PM Petr Fiala as well as Finance Minister Zbyněk Stanjura, Culture Minister Martin Baxa, and Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Lipavský had Covid. Agriculture Minister Zdeněk Nekula got infected before his appointment, which had to be consequently postponed.

May 30, 2022

politics Fiala criticizes EU's approach to sanctions

The debate on sanctions against Russia and further financial or military aid to Ukraine awaits the leaders of the European Union, including Prime Minister Petr Fiala in Brussels. On the opening day of the extraordinary two-day summit, they should also discuss replacing energy imported from Russia, while avoiding further price increases or delays in the EU's climate goals. Fiala criticized the EU for not taking into account the high dependence of some countries on supplies from Russia in the case of the sixth package before leaving for Brussels.

Vrbětice New developments emerge in Vrbětice case

New facts have emerged in the case of the explosions of ammunition depots in Vrbětice, which, according to the police, the Russian secret service GRU was behind. Criminalists suspect Nikolai Shaposhnikov, a businessman and former Russian soldier with a Czech passport, and his wife Elena of espionage, confirmed to sources familiar with the investigation to Radiožurnál and Respekt.

Shaposhnikov and his wife are suspected of writing e-mails about sensitive arms deals with the Major General of the Russian GRU, Andrei V. Averyanov, whose unit allegedly planned and carried out the 2014 explosions in Vrbětice. In addition, the Shaposhnikovs met with Averjan in Portugal shortly before the explosion. 

refugees Another tent town for refugees being set up in Prague

On Monday, the Prague fire brigade began building a tent town for Ukrainian refugees on the Czech Post site in Malešice. 150 people will find accommodation in it, especially those who now live at the Main Train Station. The tent camp will also have a dining tent and showers, said Martin Kavka, a spokesman for firefighters, and Matyáš Vitík, a spokesman for the Czech Post. The fire brigade started the construction at 8:00, and around noon eight tents were already standing on the site. 

pROTEST Activists condemn abusive animal treatment at Czech slaughterhouse

Protesters arrived at the slaughterhouse in Hrabětice in the Znojmo region today to express their disagreement with the cruel behavior of local employees towards animals. Czech activist group Zvířata nejíme (We don't eat animals) recently published footage of the brutal treatment of cows or pigs, showing employees kicking, beating, pulling the tails or ears of animals, and cursing animals. Slow or injured animals are pushed by an electric drive or pulled by a winch while lying down. The video contains sensitive content that some people may find disturbing.

art Virtual Museum of Endangered Art opens in support of Ukraine's heritage

A virtual Museum of Endangered Art with a display of Ukrainian artists' works has been launched by the VCCP Prague communications agency to highlight the need to protect Ukraine's cultural heritage amid the current Russian military aggression, said the organizers. Through the web, which presents the works of artists such as Roman Selskiy and Mykola Hlushchenko, the visitors can also financially contribute to the reconstruction of museums in Ukraine.

The drawings and paintings on display are mainly those with Ukrainian town and rural landscape motifs. The originals are in the Borys Voznytskiy National Gallery in Lviv. On the new website, the visitors can open the pictures in modified variants showing how the war has changed people, towns, and nature.

history New Stolpersteine installed in remembrance of Jews in Bohumín

Twelve Stolpersteine, or stumbling stones, have been installed in the pavements of Bohumín today in remembrance of the tragic fates of local Jews in WW2, each with a brass plaque with a victim's name and the date of birth and death. The stones commemorate the family of almost 93-year-old Arnošt Smetana and another three befriended families. While Smetana escaped the death, his relatives fell victims to the Nazi regime.

A strong Jewish community lived in Bohumín in the past, and there is a Jewish cemetery with gravestones. From now on, the town also commemorates its Jewish inhabitants through Stolpersteine, joining the project that was launched in Germany in the 1990s and acceded by the first towns in Czechia in 2008.

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