Today's headlines: Daily news refresh for Czechia

The country's top news in brief for the week of Feb. 6–Feb. 10, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 06.02.2023 10:00:00 (updated on 11.02.2023) Reading time: 12 minutes

Feb. 10, 2023

SOCIETY Czech govt. advise caution when traveling to Sweden

Czechia’s government has told Czechs to exercise strong caution when traveling to Sweden, due to an increased risk of terrorist attacks. This is owing to the recent trend of burning the Quran in EU countries – something that has happened recently in Stockholm.

According to the ministry, church buildings and shopping centers are the most likely places to be attacked. 

The government has recommended travelers going abroad to register in the Drozd online system, which – among other things – helps Czech citizens in case of any emergency.

POLITICS Foreign minister – Czechia will not boycott 2024 Olympic Games

Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavský has dismissed calls for Czechia to boycott the 2024 Olympic Games even if Russian and Belarussian athletes compete.

Despite being opposed to athletes of the aforementioned nationalities competing in the Paris event next year, he said that a potential boycott would not be fair on Czech athletes who have dedicated their “entire careers” to competing in the Olympics. 

The Czech Olympic Committee and the National Sports Agency take the same view as Lipavský.

HEALTH Antibiotic usage in Czechia rises sharply in 2022

According to Minister of Health Vlastimil Válek, Czechia’s consumption of antibiotics rose by 47 percent year on year.

At a governmental press conference today, Válek said that the sharp rise in usage was part of the reason for the ongoing shortage of certain medicines in the country. 

Válek rejected speculations that the shortage of some medicines was in any way related to the supply of medicines to Ukraine, reports.

FOREIGN AID Czech rescue team continues to find earthquake survivors

Czech rescuers this morning rescued two more survivors under the rubble of a destroyed building in the Turkish city of Adiyaman after destructive earthquakes in the region.

During the night, Czech firefighters and first aiders – part of the national Urban Search and Rescue squad – found a further 12 people. A total of 20 people have been recovered by the Czech team, ČTK reports.

The total death toll crossed 22,000 this afternoon, according to The Washington Post.

INFLATION Inflation jumps to 17.5 percent in January

Consumer prices in Czechia rose by 17.5 percent year on year in January, according to a data release by the Czech Statistical Office (CZSO) this morning. This represents a rise from inflation of 15.8 percent in December.

According to the CZSO, electricity prices rose 36.4 percent year on year, natural gas went up by almost 90 percent, and heat and hot water rose by about 45 percent.

Inflation is estimated to ease only from the second half of 2023.

CRIME Prague police shoot axe-yielding man dead in Prague 9

Prague police have shot dead a man who had been aggressively wielding an axe, ČTK reports. 

The man is alleged to have burgled a building in Prague 9. Upon arriving at the scene, the man is said to have charged at police officers despite repeated instructions to give himself up.

"Unfortunately, the suspect succumbed to his wounds despite the immediate first aid provided to him by the intervening officers," the police stated on Twitter.

LAW Czech CEZ launches legal action against Russian Gazprom

Czech energy conglomerate CEZ announced Thursday that it would be seeking damages from Russian energy firm Gazprom for undersupply, Reuters reports.

The Czech firm aims to recover damages of about CZK 1 billion due to a lack of deliveries in 2022. CEZ and Gazprom had a contract that outlined a much-higher supply of gas.

According to Prime Minister Petr Fiala, the Czech Republic reduced its dependence on Russian gas by 93 percentage points.

Feb. 9, 2023

POLITICS Pavel attacked by Russian disinformation – security center

According to the Hybrid Threats Center in Czechia, external forces tried to harm President-elect Petr Pavel via means of disinformation, ČTK writes.

Russian propaganda outlet Sputink and its official Telegram account attempted to spread fake news about Pavel in the run-up to the January election. This was done via the dissemination of texts to Czech-based mobiles. 

A manipulated video also falsely showed Pavel asserting that Czechia had officially waged war against Russia.

Right before the second round of the presidential election, a bogus email was spread claiming that Pavel had died.

LAW Government plans to clamp down on illegal road billboards

The government is proposing a new law to tackle the issue of illegally placed billboards on Czech roads and highways, Seznam Zprávy writes today.

At present, if a billboard is thought to be illegitimately placed, a lengthy bureaucratic process stands in the way of immediate removal. An investigation into whether the owner has the relevant documents (such as a building permit or lease agreement) needs to take place before any action is taken.

If the government’s proposal is passed, the process of removing the illegal banners will be expedited.

EVENT Explosion at Czech plant seriously injures five

An explosion earlier today in northern Czechia (in Teplice, Ústí nad Labem) at a small energy plant injured three people “very seriously,” iRozhlas reports.

A propane-butane cylinder exploded – the cause is unknown. A total of five workers were hurt.

“All workers [from the affected area], which should be 15 people, were evacuated. Evacuation of the surrounding area is not necessary according to the firefighters,” said Teplice police spokeswoman Ilona Gazdošová.

According to the regional fire department, there is no danger of another explosion.

tragedy Czech woman among Turkey earthquake victims

A Czech woman who was a permanent resident of Turkey, reported missing by the Czech government earlier this week, was among the fatalities of Monday's earthquake, the Czech Foreign Ministry told ČTK this morning.

The Czech embassy in Ankara is in touch with the woman's family and the Turkish authorities. Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský said on Wednesday that a Czech woman with permanent residence in Turkey had been reported missing.

EARTHQUAKE IN TURKEY Czech rescuers in Turkey find 10 people among ruins

Czech rescuers continuing to work in Turkey after the country’s deadly earthquakes have found ten people under rubble, with three reported deceased.

Earlier this week dozens of Czech firefighters and members of the country’s Urban Search and Rescue team departed for Turkey to assist the country’s rescue efforts.

Local authorities in Adiyaman, the city where the discovery of survivors was made, say that about 50 people could still be trapped. According to fire department spokesman Jakub Kozák, their survival chances are "very low."

MILITARY US donates helicopters, flight simulator to Czechia

The U.S. will this month provide Czechia with a flight simulator in preparation for the delivery of US Viper attack helicopters, ČTK reports.

Czechia has purchased 12 special-purpose combat helicopters from the U.S, and the North American country has also agreed to donate eight older helicopters.

A special hall has been created for the simulator: “we have fulfilled our plan to be prepared for the moment when the simulator delivery is announced," a Czech military representative said.

The helicopters are due to be delivered around the middle of this year.

POLITICS ANO deputy chairman resigns

Deputy Chairman of ANO movement Ivo Vondrák has announced that he will step down from his position. The senior member of the populist party, who is also governor of the Moravia-Silesia region, had gone against the grain during the presidential election by supporting eventual winner Petr Pavel rather than ANO leader and founder Andrej Babiš.

Vondrák, who has been deputy chairman for just 12 months, told journalists that he had reservations about the direction in which the party was headed. He also mentioned that a faction – largely against Babiš – may be created in the future.

Feb. 8, 2023

COVID Monday sees most Covid cases since mid December

The number of newly detected Covid-19 cases has been rising in Czechia again. Last week saw one-third more cases than the previous week, and Monday's almost 1,000 cases was the highest daily number since mid December, the Health Ministry's data shows. There are about currently about 300 Covid patients hospitalized in Czechia and 12 of them are in intensive care units.

Economy Mortgage rates in Czechia rose slightly in February

New data from Fincentrum Hypoindex shows that the average mortgage interest rate rose at the beginning of February to 6.37 percent, a slight increase over January's 6.34 percent. The index is based on the current average mortgage loan rate for 80 percent of the property's value. Some property prices have fallen including older apartments or more energy-intensive houses. Analysts expect the level of rates to stagnate in the coming period.

JOBS More unemployed people than vacancies in Czechia

Unemployment in the Czech Republic rose to 3.9 percent in January from 3.7 percent in December. In total, the Labor Office reported 283,059 people without work. For the first time since March 2018, there are more unemployed people than vacancies (281,141 reported at the end of the month). The jump is attributed to employers exhibiting more caution in the face of increased energy and raw material costs. The number of vacancies decreased by about 7,500 in January but is expected to decline with the arrival of spring. (ÚP ČR)

weather Czech village records temperature of minus 29 degrees Celsius

Meteorologists measured minus 29 degrees Celsius, the lowest temperature in the Czech Republic this morning, at Šumava Kvilda. With an altitude of 1,065 meters, the village is the highest municipality in the Czech Republic and one of the coldest in the country. Severe frosts began in Šumava on Monday. The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute forecasts temperatures to drop below -12 degrees celsius until Wednesday.

CURRENCY Czech National bank issues commemorative banknote today

From today, the Czech National Bank is issuing a special CZK 1,000 banknote to mark the 30th anniversary of the division of the Czechoslovak currency. Those interested can obtain up to five banknotes from 7:30 a.m. at the bank’s cash desks in Prague, České Budějovice, Pilsen, Ústí nad Labem, Hradec Králové, Brno and Ostrava. Queues are forming at some locations. Read the full story here.

TRAGEDY Czech firefighters search Turkish town hit by earthquake

The Czech USAR (urban search and rescue) team specialized in searching for people in debris arrived in the Turkish city of Adana Monday night, where they were transported by three military planes to Adiyaman. Read the full story here.

Police Body found in Polish hotel likely that of wanted Czech man

A body discovered by Polish police in a hotel in Wroclaw was "most likely" a Czech man wanted in connection with a murder committed in the Czech capital, according to the Czech police. Police have been searching for the 42-year-old man since the end of last week on suspicion of murdering a woman in a Prague hotel. (Twitter/Policie ČR).

Feb. 7, 2023

ECONOMY Retail sales drop in 2022

A data release from the Czech Statistical Office shows that retail sales in the country declined by 3.6 percent year on year in 2022. 

In 2021, retail sales had risen by 4.4 percent year on year.

Food sales dropped the most, declining by a yearly 5.1 percent, whereas non-food drops fell by almost 3 percent. Record-high inflation constrained household consumption last year, diminishing people’s spending ability.

Jakub Siedler of the Czech Banking Association forecasts that retail sales will decline by 1.5 percent in 2023, ČT24 writes.

DIPLOMACY Czech-Slovak relations as healthy as ever - Slovak president

Czechia and Slovakia are as “close to one another as ever,” Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová said while meeting outgoing Czech President Miloš Zeman this afternoon.

"I believe that very good Czech-Slovak cooperation will continue under my successor," Čaputová noted. She also said that the countries’ healthy relationship “appears in various types of cooperation, be it economy or culture, and in human relations.”

Both presidents disagreed, however, on environmental activism – with Zeman taking a more skeptical viewpoint. Čaputová before entering politics was an environmental activist.

SPORT Former Slavia Prague captain and manager dies

Well-known former football player and coach František Cipro, who served as the captain of the Slavia Prague football team and was later the team’s coach, has passed away at the age of 75.

He played as a midfielder for Slavia Prague between 1971 and 1980, during which he made 234 appearances and scored 11 league goals. He then had two separate stints as the team’s coach – between 1995 and 1997 and then from 1999 to 2000.

Cipro led his team to the semi-finals of the European UEFA Cup tournament, and also claimed one domestic league title.

“Thank you for everything, captain and coach…honor to your memory,” said the club in a tweet this afternoon.

CRIME Police find car of murder suspect on the loose

Czech police have today announced they found the car of a man on the run and suspected of murder.

The Škoda Scala was discovered in Brno Monday – the man is wanted for the alleged murder of a woman, thought to be his girlfriend or wife, that took place at an undisclosed Prague hotel Saturday.

Police are still searching for the man, 42, who is about 190 centimeters in height. He originates from Liberec. "The wanted man is armed and dangerous, so please do not try to arrest him or contact him in any other way," Prague police spokesman Jan Rybanský says.

TURKEY EARTHQUAKE Six Czechs in earthquake-struck Turkish region

Six Czechs were present and affected in the area hit by multiple earthquakes in Turkey Monday, ČTK cites Prime Minister Petr Fiala as saying.

He has told the Foreign Ministry that the Czech embassy in Ankara is currently assisting them – there is no information available as to whether they are injured. The embassy is offering free assistance on travel back to Czechia, if needed. 

The current official death toll as reported by The Washington Post is approaching 5,000.

DIPLOMACY Zeman starts last-ever foreign trip as president

Outgoing President Miloš Zeman began late afternoon Monday the final foreign visit of his tenure, reports

He traveled to Slovakia to meet counterpart Zuzana Čaputová in the High Tatras. It is a recent Czech-Slovak tradition for both countries’ presidents to make their first and last foreign diplomatic visits to each other’s countries.

Speaking of her happiness that Zeman chose the Tatras to make his final visit, Čaputová said: “It is a beautiful and exceptional place that is loved by both Czechs and Slovaks.”

Zeman is to meet Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger tomorrow to discuss Czech-Slovak relations.

WEATHER Freezing temperatures hit Czechia

Temperatures in the Czech Republic dropped to as low as -28.3 degrees Celsius overnight as the country woke up to a freezing morning, data from the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute shows.

Šumava, to the southwest of the country, and the Jizerské mountains both recorded temperatures colder than minus 25 degrees Celsius. Temperatures in Prague were at about minus 9 degrees Celsius in the early morning, and are expected to remain below zero for the entirety of the day.

Temperatures in the capital will rise as the week goes on, reaching a maximum daily temperature of 4 degrees Celcius on Friday.

Feb. 6, 2023

EVENT Senior Czech ministers react to Turkey earthquake tragedy

Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan and Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský have expressed their condolences after an earthquake struck the southeast of Turkey, near the border with Syria. Over 500 people are reported to have died and many are missing following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale.

Czechia will send a form of aid to Turkey. “We are able to send a rescue team [the so-called USAR]” said Rakušan. 

There is currently no information on whether any Czechs were injured in the quake.

SOCIETY Multiple bomb reports cause Brno evacuations

Multiple reports this morning of bombs at railway stations, inside trains, and at the main post office in Brno have led to several evacuations, Brno police report.

“We are carrying out standard measures and investigations,” said police spokesperson Pavel Šváb. No explosive device has yet been discovered, however, to ensure safety ambulance services are at the scene. This is a developing situation.

POLITICS Zeman will not appoint Constitutional Court head

Current President Miloš Zeman will not appoint a new head of Czechia’s Constitutional Court, ČTK reports today.

Following a meeting between the current Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Zeman Sunday, Fiala asked Zeman to abstain from appointing a new Constitutional Court head. 

Zeman had recently announced he was open to the idea of the appointment – this is within his remit, but would be controversial, given that he will leave his post in March. The head of the Constitutional Court serves a 10-year term.

CRIME Police across Czechia search for man after Prague hotel murder

There is currently a manhunt underway in Czechia for a 42-year-old man who is alleged to have murdered his wife in an unnamed Prague hotel Saturday.

A press release from Czech police notes that the man, who is named as Petr K, is “armed and dangerous.” He is said to have driven off in a Škoda Scala with a registration number of 5L7-9685. From Liberec, he is about 190 centimeters tall with a slim build and dark hair. 

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