Today's headlines: Daily news refresh for Czechia

The country's top news in brief for the week of Nov. 7-11, 2022.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 07.11.2022 09:03:00 (updated on 11.11.2022) Reading time: 18 minutes

Nov. 11, 2022

INCOME Government proposes increase to subsistence minimum

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has proposed today an increase in the national subsistence minimum, from CZK 4,620 to CZK 4,860. The subsistence minimum is defined by the Labor Ministry as “the minimum level of income…considered to be necessary to ensure sustenance and other basic personal needs.”

The planned increase of 5.2 percent corresponds to the rise in consumer prices for food and basic personal needs from May to September 2022, according to the government. It has been increased twice this year – from a substantially lower CZK 3,860 in April.

POLITICS Nine presidential candidates 'broke transparency rules'

The Office for the Supervision of the Management of Political Parties and Political Movements today declared that nine out of 21 presidential candidates violated transparency rules related to financing their campaigns. 

According to the supervisory office, candidates must set up a transparent account within five days of announcing to run for president. The names of the specific candidates have not yet been published, but the consequences are dear.

Candidates face a fine of up CZK 500 million for failing to report a transparent account, said office spokeswoman Luisa Divišová said, according to iRozhlas.cz.

CRIME Youth who planned Prague terror attacks sentenced

A young male who prepared a bomb attack on Prague has today been handed a suspended sentence by the Regional Court in Brno.

In custody since last December, the boy – who was aged 17 at the time of his attacks, but now 18 – confessed his plan to place, and detonate, car combs in front of the American, Israeli, and Chinese embassies. However, he states that there was zero intention of executing these plans.

The youth has been put on probation for 30 months with a three-year suspended period. He will be under strict surveillance and will need to undergo institutional treatment for mental-health-related reasons.

ENVRIONMENT Fiala wants more focus on renewable energy

At the European Nuclear Energy Forum hosted by Czechia today, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said that “the combination of nuclear energy and renewable sources is the only truly safe scenario” for the future of Czechia, ČTK reports.

Fiala declared that Europe is in an energy crisis linked to geopolitical pressure on a scale not seen for decades. He said at the conference that he wanted to diversify resources and invest more in renewable energy. In 2020, renewables contributed just 7 percent to total annual energy production, according to the International Trade Administration.

ENERGY Two largest energy firms in Czechia raise prices

The two largest electricity suppliers in Czechia, ČEZ and E.ON, announced yesterday an increase in energy prices from January 2023.

ČEZ, which serves about 2.7 million customers around the country, will raise its prices by about 60 percent for customers with a non-contract, non-price-fixed tariff.

The majority of customers will pay the government-capped maximum of 6,000 CZK for one megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity, and will not be grossly affected by the price increase. For customers with a price-fixed contract, this increase does not apply. ČEZ will not alter its gas prices.

E.ON, the second-largest energy firm, will act similarly from early 2023; ČTK reports that “most clients will be on the price ceiling.”

UKRAINE First donated trams to Kharkiv start running

The first trams donated by the Prague Transport Company (DPP) are operating in the war-torn city of Kharkiv, Ukraine, as of today, along with six buses from a transport company in Pilsen.

Prague said earlier that it would donate 20 trams to Kharkiv, eight of which had already been delivered there, said Kharkiv City Hall Transport Section head Ivan Kuznetsov, reported by ČTK.

AGENCY PROPERTIES

Apartment for rent, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 50m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 50m2

Molákova, Praha 8 - Karlín

Apartment for rent, 4+kk - 3 bedrooms, 117m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 4+kk - 3 bedrooms, 117m2

Kartónová, Plzeň - Východní Předměstí

Building plot for sale, 9181m<sup>2</sup>

Building plot for sale, 9181m2

Statenice - Černý Vůl

Villa for sale, 598m<sup>2</sup>, 5313m<sup>2</sup> of land

Villa for sale, 598m2, 5313m2 of land

Statenice - Černý Vůl

Pilsen and Brno also donated trolleybuses to help the damaged city in East Ukraine. Since the beginning of Russia’s February invasion, Czechia has donated over CZK 6 billion to help Ukraine.

IMMIGRATION Border controls with Slovakia to continue

Following a governmental meeting yesterday, Minister of the Interior Vít Rakušan stated Thursday that border controls with Slovakia will likely continue for the foreseeable future and into 2023. Border checks that had been due to expire Nov. 12 will now be definitely extended until Dec. 13, barring any intervention from the EU.

However, things are unlikely to normalize after Dec. 13. At the meeting between Prime Ministers Petr Fiala and Eduard Heger (of Slovakia), both countries agreed to greater cooperation on the issue and placing more personnel on the border. Strikes from Slovak truck drivers are planned in the coming weeks.

Nov. 10, 2022

CRIME One of Czechia's most-wanted men finally back in country

Stanislav Seidl, who had been on the run from Czech authorities for 11 years after hiding in Senegal, landed back in Czechia earlier today, Seznam Zprávy reports.

He had been handed a six-year prison sentence in 2010 for multiple robberies. Before starting his time in prison, though, he illegally fled Czechia to Senegal, via the Canary Islands. Authorities arrested Seidl after he finally turned himself in at the Czech embassy in Senegal, citing ill health and zero funds.

He had been included in the list of Europe's most-wanted criminals, which is published by the European Police Office Europol.

SOCIETY Politician leaps to defense of Polish 'shaman' couple

Following the charge of a Polish couple in Czechia for selling a banned hallucinogenic substance, Pirates Parliamentary Club Chairman Jakub Michálek has requested the sentence to be reduced, Seznam Zprávy reports.

Jarosław Kordys and his wife were given prison sentences of eight years for making and distributing a prohibited Peruvian substance in Moravia.

"In a country where corrupt people walk away from court with at best a fine and rapists often get off with probation, this injustice is glaring,” Michálek said. 

He has asked President Miloš Zeman to reduce the couple’s incarceration or pardon them.

CLIMATE 'Fourth-warmest' October recorded, experts say

According to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute’s report today, last month was the fourth-warmest October since 1961 (when monthly averages began to be calculated). October saw average temperatures of 10.6 degrees Celsius, with highs reaching above 25 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country.

The second half of the month raised considerably the monthly average; for example, temperatures on Oct. 16 broke tens of regional records and were 6 degrees Celsius above average.

It was also only the fifth October without any snowfall whatsoever since the beginning of the 20th century.

POLITICS Fiala rules out retirement-age increase

Prime Minister Petr Fiala in an interview today stated that there would be no increase in the state retirement age during his premiership, ČTK reports. He proposed a pension reform, because – in his words – “it is necessary for people under 40  to have a chance of a decent pension.”

The current retirement age is indexed to a person’s year of birth and, for women, the number of children she has. For example, a man born in 1950 can retire aged 62 years and 6 months. A woman born in the same year can retire about three years earlier, if she has a child. Being born later implies an older retirement age.

ECONOMY Inflation in Czechia falls slightly

Data from the Czech Statistical Office (CZSO) released today reveals inflation of 15.1 percent year on year in October. This is a decline from the 18 percent annual inflation registered in the previous month. 

The pace of year-on-year growth in consumer prices in October reached the lowest point since April this year, when inflation was 14.2 percent. The last time annual inflation had slowed was in August, to 17.2 percent. Before this, it had been accelerating for 13 months in a row.

POLITICS President calls for cancelation of Prague Castle security checks

President Miloš Zeman has asked Interior Minister Vít Rakušan to cancel or adjust the security checks at Prague Castle. He made the request in an open letter published Wednesday.

According to the president, the checks are no longer valid and conflict with “citizens’ interests.” The checks had been introduced in the summer of 2016 owing to security concerns. 

“It is impossible to tolerate any longer the depreciation of the historically valuable areas of the Prague Castle by checkpoints and barriers," Zeman asserted.

ENERGY Military simulates attack on nuclear plant

The military and police tested the Dukovany nuclear power plant Wednesday to assess how it would withstand any foreign attacks, ČTK reports. It was the first such exercise after four years and the goal was to check the external protection of the power plant. 

The Dukovany power plant produced 14.87 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity last year. It is one of the most important suppliers of Czech energy and one of just two nuclear plants in the whole country.

ENERGY Czechia's largest energy firm records huge profit increase

ČEZ Group, Czechia’s largest energy conglomerate, has announced a net profit of CZK 52.3 billion for the first three quarters of this year, it announced online today.

This represents a seismic, 88 percent year-on-year increase, which was caused by “enormous growth in commodity prices on wholesale markets, record profit from commodity trading on foreign markets, and the high operational reliability of power plants this year,” ČTK reports.

ČEZ is one of the companies that the government wants to impose a tax on for excess profit. The so-called windfall tax is currently under discussion.

Nov. 9, 2022

LEGISLATION Czechia to cut over 10,000 redundant regulations

Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced today his intention to revoke more than 10,000 regulations following a government meeting. 

The laws that Fiala wants to cancel are valid in practice, but virtually never applied. Others, which go as far back as 1918, are simply no longer applicable today.

His overall aim is the simplification of the legal system and to reduce unnecessary clutter on the upcoming online search tool for laws, “eSbírka”.

COVID-19 Covid wave expected in second half of November

A new wave of coronavirus infections can be expected in the second half of November according to Health Minister Vlastimil Válek, written in iDnes.cz today.

Válek noted that vaccination is the only way to prevent a substantial increase in the number of infected people in hospitals. He wants between 1 million and 1.5 million elderly people to be vaccinated by the end of the year. This figure currently stands at 700,000. 

Covid-19 cases have been on a broad decline in the past four weeks.

EDUCATION Government to increase spending on elementary schools

The government will allocate CZK 500 million for the construction of elementary schools following a cabinet meeting today, according to ČTK.

An increasing inflationary environment – particularly in the cost of construction – has prompted the move. The total annual expenditure on school construction will now total CZK 7.3 billion. The government is attempting to address school shortages in Prague and other major cities.

According to the Ministry of Education and Culture, over 964,000 pupils studied in elementary schools in the most recently completed academic year. This is 169,000 more than a decade ago.

INFLATION One-third more people in Czechia using food banks

So far in 2022, one-third more people are using food banks compared with last year, iDnes.cz reports. Around 270,000 people used food banks in Czechia since January – an increase of 70,000 from 2021. 

National inflation hit 18 percent in September, with food prices going up by 21 percent year on year in the same month, Czech Statistical Office data shows. Prices of semi-skimmed milk and butter, for example, have recently grown by 50 percent annually. Poultry has increased by almost 37 percent from the year-earlier period. There are currently 15 food banks in the country.

ENERGY Heating plants to raise prices next year

Several heating plants will raise their prices from 2023, ČTK reports. One of the country’s largest heating networks, Pražská teplárenská, has announced that it will increase heat prices in the country by between 12 and 15 percent. As expected, an increase in fuel is the driver behind the decision.

ČEZ Teplárenská, another major provider, also announced a price change for next year, which will see prices grow by an average of 20 percent. 

This news comes amid Pražská energetika, an energy supplier, announcing this week plans to raise its prices from January 2023.

POLITICS Slovak PM against further Czechia-Slovakia border controls

Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger told reporters today that current border controls between Czechia and Slovakia – imposed by the former – are not sustainable, ČTK reports. He is due to discuss the situation with Prime Minister Petr Fiala Thursday.

Checks at the border were introduced by Czechia’s Interior Ministry to stem the flow of immigrants (mainly from the Middle East) passing through Czechia. Truck drivers protested by blocking a key motorway Sunday night, citing financial and time losses.

Czechia hopes to get the EU’s permission to extend border checks beyond their Nov. 12 expiration.

BUSINESS Prices of Czech post to further rise next year

Česká pošta, the national postal service, plans to increase the prices of all basic services from the beginning of 2023. General Director Roman Knap said that rising national costs of energy are behind the increase, as written in Lidové noviny today.

The company already increased prices this month. Standard delivery of an ordinary letter went up by CZK 2, to CZK 21. Priority postage rose by the same amount, to CZK 28. Similar-level increases are expected in 2023.

POLITICS Fake news on Interior Minister quote spreads on Facebook

A false quote attributed to Interior Minister Vít Rakušan regarding Czechia’s intake of Ukrainian refugees has been spreading on Facebook, fact-checking site demagog.cz reports. The fictitious post was Rakušan’s alleged announcement that he had discussed with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy about accepting over 1 million more refugees in the months ahead.

There is no evidence anywhere that Rakušan divulged this information. On the contrary, following a governmental visit to Kyiv in early November, Rakušan said Czechia would have a problem accepting more than 500,000 refugees in total.

POLITICS Prague mayor calls for resignation of city transport company director

Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib called on Prague Transport Company (DPP) Director Petr Witowski to resign in a Twitter post Tuesday. The mayor is aggrieved about the purchase of information boards for stations around Prague, which he deems too expensive.

The price of one of the 38 total screens purchased was CZK 290,000 – almost double the amount of previously purchased screens that also included built-in software. The mayor further noted that DPP was previously warned against buying the screens.

BUSINESS Crunch talks over Pilsen gigafactory to take place today

Government and business representatives in Pilsen will today discuss the creation of a new Volkswagen gigafactory – a plant that mass produces electric-vehicle batteries – in the place of a military airport. The meeting comes amid protests yesterday outside the German embassy in Prague from 30 people (mostly pilots) demonstrating against the factory.

Potential construction would begin towards the end of 2024 and would create over 4,000 jobs. Prime Minister Fiala has stated that the project is of “fundamental importance” for the competitiveness of the country, ČTK reports.

Nov. 8, 2022

Elections Twenty-one candidates for Czech president submit their bids

The deadline for submitting a bid for Czech president ended at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, with 21 candidates making a run for the Castle, roughly the same number as prior to the previous presidential elections five years ago an Interior Ministry spokeswoman told ČTK. The ministry is now tasked with checking whether the applications for registration meet all legal criteria and will officially register qualifying bids on Nov. 25 when it will also release the names of the candidates.

CONTROVERSY Communist leaders faces charges for denying Katyn massacre

Communist party presidential candidate Josef Skála faces up to 3 years in prison for statements about the World War II Katyn massacre, Seznam Zprávy reports. Skála said that Katyn, the location of a mass murder of Polish war prisoners orchestrated by the Soviet Union, was a "Nazi-constructed story."

DEATH Famous Czech film director dies aged 81

Marie Poledňáková, a renowned director in Czechia, passed away earlier today. She was one of the most famous minds behind Czech comedy. She had directed classics such as “How to get dad into a mental institution”, which was released in the 1970s, and the more modern “You kiss like God.”

She was the winner of one of the Golden Nymph Awards at the Monte Carlo Television Festival in 1979 for best screenplay. A 1998 public survey ranked her work “I enjoy the world with you” as the Czech comedy of the century.

ECONOMY Retail sales register another decline in Czechia

Data from the Czech Statistical Office shows that sales in retail trade decreased by 5.6 percent in September year on year. Although a significant drop, this is a smaller rate compared with the 8.1 percent decline recorded in August.

Reflecting higher purchase prices and lower real disposable income amid high inflation, food sales decreased by 5.3 percent annually. Fuel sales declined by 6.1 percent, and household-product sales fell by 10 percent. Internet sales also declined year on year, by 3.6 percent. 

INTERNET Czechia to battle increasing online child porn

Czechia aims to crack down on rising cases of child pornography found on the internet, the government says. Currently holding the presidency of the EU, the country has made it a priority to fight against sexual abuse of children on the internet in the bloc. 

Last year, Czech police received information about 16,000 cases of online child pornography. Increased age verification, monitoring of social media posts, and closer IP-address monitoring are on the agenda, although critics (such as the leader of Czechia’s Pirate party) point out the risks to online security and breaches of sensitive data, Aktualne.cz reports.

ENERGY Hundreds of thousands at risk of energy poverty in Czechia

According to a study by investment company Wood & Company, hundreds of thousands of people in Czechia are “at risk of energy poverty," ČTK reports. This is caused by energy-related expenses being higher than 40 percent of people’s disposable income, which is presently the case for about 650,000 people in Czechia.

It was reported by Novinky.cz today that one in three Czechs plans to take out a loan for rising energy bills, which recorded the highest price increase in Europe in the first half of this year.

ECONOMY Czech koruna at strongest level against euro since February

The Czech koruna is at its strongest level against the euro since February, when Russia invaded Ukraine. As of Tuesday morning the exchange rate was CZK 24.29/EUR. On Mar. 8 the Czech currency was markedly weaker, at CZK 25.8/EUR. The koruna is now at similar levels registered in early February and is near a ten-year high.

Better-than-expected industrial production and a narrower trade deficit than had been forecast partly explain the koruna’s strong performance, according to finance analyst Tomáš Vlk, as written in ČTK.

EMPLOYMENT Job vacancies, applications fall in Czechia

Data from Czechia’s Labor Office released today shows that the number of job applicants in October decreased by 588 from the September level, to a total of 255,792, as reported in Novinky.cz. Vacancy numbers also declined to 297,360; a drop of 8,700. The unemployment level stayed at 3.5 percent.

According to the Labor Office, unemployment is likely to increase in the coming months due to a reduction in seasonal work. Almost 150,000 refugees from Ukraine found work in Czechia between end-February and end-October, 75 percent of whom are women.

POLITICS Interior Minister calls for one-day election

Interior Minister Vít Rakušan is calling for the introduction of a one-day election instead of the current two days, according to ČTK.

As is normal in other European countries, Rakušan wants to limit voting to just one day; from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on a Friday. This would total 15 hours – one hour longer than currently. The change would come into force in 2026.

No concrete plans have yet been made for the introduction of electronic voting, though this is a feature the government eventually wants to implement.

ENERGY Czech town begins fourth day without heat or hot water

A town in Orlické hory, in the north of the country, is entering its fourth day without heat and hot water. The lack of supply stems from a price-related disagreement between the council of Rokytnica (the affected town) and the supplying energy company.

A primary school, a social care institution, and about 300 apartments are affected. The energy-providing company Ekoenergy Moravia demands retroactive payments for the increased energy costs. Monday night talks reached no settlement.

Nov. 7, 2022

IMMIGRATION Czech Interior Minister wants to continue Slovak border controls

Following a protest by Slovak truck drivers last night over Czechia's decision to introduce border checks on the Czech-Slovak border, Interior Minister Vít Rakušan has asserted that the border controls will not be canceled in the immediate future.

Owing to an increased amount of migrants – mainly from the Middle East – traveling through Slovakia into the west of Europe, Czechia introduced border controls at the end of September. The Czech government hopes to extend the border checks beyond the current Nov. 12 expiry date, but needs permission from the European Commission.

POLITICS Central Bohemia governor: new wave of Ukrainian refugees possible

Central Bohemian Governor Petra Pecková has stated that the region may face another wave of Ukrainian refugees this winter, as reported by ČTK. A rise in refugee numbers should prompt an increase in the number of employees at registration points. 

"We are already being warned that a second wave of migration may occur, of course, it will be directly proportional to the weather and of course also to the security situation in Ukraine," said Pecková. 

Almost 61,000 refugees have been registered in the Central Bohemian region. Since February 2022, over 450,000 Ukrainians have been granted temporary protection visas in Czechia.

POLITICS Petr Pavel accrues 81,000 signatures for presidency

Candidate for president Petr Pavel will today submit more than 81,000 signatures to the Interior Ministry as the former army general officially verifies his presidential bid. 

According to Czech law, the presidential bid must be submitted by Nov. 8 (tomorrow) and be supported by either: signatures of at least ten senators; 20 deputies; or 50,000 citizens.

Rival candidates Andrej Babiš and Danuše Nerudová have officially submitted their bids, with the latter having collected more than 82,000 valid signatures.

ECONOMY Construction output declines, foreign trade deficit continues

According to data from the Czech Statistical Office (CZSO), construction production fell by 3.7 percent year on year and trade with foreign countries registered a deficit for the eighth consecutive month, ČTK reports.

Although industrial production rose by 8 percent annually, this was from a particularly low base from last year. "Last year's low comparative base in the production of motor vehicles significantly affected the year-on-year growth rate,” Radek Matějka from the CZSO said. Continuing low construction outputs and foreign trade deficits are expected in the coming months.

TRANSPORT Slovak truckers protest by blocking Czech-Slovak highway

Slovak truck drivers began yesterday night a strike on the D2 highway that connects Czechia with Slovakia. Beginning at midnight, it was intended to last 24 hours, but ended in the early hours of this morning after Czech authorities temporarily boosted resources at the border to speed up checks.

The protest, which will block traffic on the Slovak side of the highway, is being made to protest against increasing checks imposed on the border of both countries by the Czech Republic.

The Union of Car Carriers of Slovakia (UNAS) states that the increased checks on the border – introduced by the Czech Interior Ministry to combat illegal immigration – are causing large financial losses to the drivers. Truck drivers have been reported to wait at the border for eight hours under current checks, as written in ČT24.

ENVRIONMENT Fiala commits to reducing Czechia’s methane gas emissions

Prime Minister Petr Fiala told journalists yesterday that Czechia would commit to reducing its methane emissions by 30 percent until 2030, ČTK reports.

As the UN Climate Change Conference began yesterday, he noted that he will liaise with European energy companies to obtain a “reliable source of oil and, above all, natural gas.”

Czechia released 12,400 kilotonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2019, according to World Bank data. This made the country the 75th worst methane emitter globally.

POLITICS Foreign Affairs Minister calls for basic diplomatic relations with Russia

In a discussion program with CNN Prima News, Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavský stated that it is important to keep basic diplomatic relations with Russia, despite its aggressive acts in Ukraine.

ANO Vice Chairman Radek Vondráček stated on the program his belief that there should be more dialogue between Russia and other states. "We don't talk much about peace…it is time to talk about a ceasefire,” Vondráček said.

Lipavský agreed with last week's official declaration to name Russia's actions "terrorist."

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more