Today's headlines: Daily news refresh for Czechia

The country's top news in brief for the week of Nov. 14-18, 2022. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 14.11.2022 09:01:00 (updated on 18.11.2022) Reading time: 18 minutes

Nov. 18, 2022

HEALTH Czechia scores highly on health care rankings

According to an analysis of 10 Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries’ preparedness for future health care challenges, Czechia is ranked highly – in second position.

The study, made by think thank Globsec, assesses how ready countries are for an aging population, as well as preparedness for a rise in chronic diseases and other infection waves, reports.

Slovenia received the best score and Romania the worst. Out of the Visegrád Group, Slovakia performed the weakest.

Twenty-three different variables were assessed in the analysis, such as the number of healthcare workers, state spending on healthcare, and average life expectancy. 

Czechia has the 41st-highest life expectancy (at birth) in the world and the second-highest out of all CEE countries, at 79.8 years, according to Worldometers.

LAW Government passes bill on excess income for large energy firms

The Chamber of Deputies this afternoon approved an amendment to the country’s Energy Act in a state of “legislative emergency.” Large energy firms that have power plants, such as ČEZ, are set to be required to pay fees on excess income from their sales. Ninety percent of the difference between the new price ceilings and total income will go to the state. The government hopes to collect around CZK 80 billion from the imposed levies.

However, the act – which was voted for by 80 of the 146 coalition members of parliament present – still needs to be ratified by the Senate and approved by President Milos Zeman, ČTK reports. The opposition ANO movement claims that the process is being rushed and accuses the government of legislative “chaos,” as written in

CONFLICT Over half of Czechs worry that World War III will soon happen

More than half of Czechs fear that the current conflict in Ukraine will develop into a third world war, according to a survey by the Median agency, reported by

The survey showed that supporters of the populist, right-wing ANO movement were the most likely to worry about the outbreak of World War III.

In contrast, voters of the Splou (Together) coalition feared a third world war the least. 

Analyst Eva Lebedová from Palacký University in Olomouc explains that ANO’s current distrust of the government and beliefs that they are mishandling the Russia-Ukraine conflict are reasons behind their heightened fears of a potential World War III.

LAW President pardons couple that sold hallucinogenic substance

It has been announced today that President Miloš Zeman will pardon a Polish couple who had been sentenced for illicitly creating and distributing hallucinogenic drugs.

Jarosław Kordys and his wife Karolina were handed eight-year prison sentences earlier this year for making and distributing a prohibited Peruvian substance in Moravia. They made around CZK 11 million from the practice, which they had been doing for several years.

The president has issued pardons in the past; once controversially to Jiří Kajínek, who had been convicted of murder.

BUSINESS Czechia can now receive subsidies for Agrofert companies

The European Commission has authorized the repayment of most of the subsidies intended for the projects of the Agrofert group, ČT24 reports. The government is now free to claim the money and apply for reimbursements without needing to declare that the subsidies are intended for Agrofert companies. Two firms, agricultural company Cerea and plastic company Fatra, will still not be able to receive funds.

The Agrofert conglomerate, which contains over 250 European companies, was embroiled in a conflict-of-interest issue owing to former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš's ownership of the company. The issuance of EU subsidies for Agrofert was stopped in early 2019.

WEATHER Freezing weekend awaits Czechia

A cold, frosty – and in some places snowy – wave will hit Czcehia this weekend. According to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, temperatures will be as low as -7 degrees Celsius on Friday night.

Early Saturday morning will see temperatures in the negative around the whole country, with temperatures around -3 degrees Celsius in the Central Bohemian and Prague regions. Ice and snow are forecast.

Temperatures on Saturday afternoon will be around freezing and will be slightly higher on Sunday afternoon, averaging 4 degrees Celsius in the capital. Temperatures next week will be similar to those seen this weekend, albeit slightly warmer, reaching a high of 6 degrees Celsius next Thursday and Friday. Daytime temperatures early next week will be around the 3 to 4 degrees Celsius region in Central Bohemia.

OPINION About half of Czechs unsure if life today better than pre-1989

A poll asking if life before 1989 had been better has brought some interesting results, with almost half of respondents disagreeing that life had definitely improved since the fall of socialism, Seznam Zprávy reports in its study.

Sixty-two percent of men agreed that life today is better than before the Velvet Revolution. However, just 44 percent of women definitively agreed with this fact. Two-thirds of university-educated people think society is better off than it was before 1989, while just 39 percent with only a high school diploma hold the view.

Almost half of all respondents said that freedom in Czechia is under threat today.

Nov. 17, 2022

CURRENT AFFAIRS Naked Putin statue features on Nov. 17 rally, goes on auction

A statue of naked Russian President Vladimir Putin on a golden toilet throne was paraded through Prague earlier today and is now set to go on auction.

It was created in 2021 by Czech artist Barbora Zichová as a protest against Russian governmental aggression. The sculpture also features a small version of a nude Aleksandr Lukashenko, the Belarusian president and close ally of Putin.

The meaning of the piece is that both leaders are weaker than they seem. The statue “illustrates that we must not fear Putin, that his power is fed only by our fear,” said Otakar van Gemund, who helped conceptualize the piece, to Pražská Drbna.

The starting price is EUR 10,000 (about CZK 240,000). It will be on auction until Dec. 20. Proceeds will go to the Ukrainian army.

ENVIRONMENT Students air displeasure at climate-change situation

“Hundreds” of students marched through Prague’s center to demand greater national and European attention to climate change, according to organizers Universities for Climate.

Carrying on from earlier in the week, climate-related protests climaxed today as students walked through Národní třída, one of the main locations of commemoration for the Nov. 17 holiday.

They crossed paths with Prime Minister Petr Fiala, who was also at the location paying tributes, and aired their belief that Czechia should end all dependence on coal, focus more on renewable energy, and set up a dedicated ministry for tackling climate change.

"We want to show that it is not enough to remember. The rallies in 1989 started with protests for the environment. We want to revive and update this legacy. We, too, are living in an unfair system that plunders natural resources," said one of the protestors as reported by ČTK.

PROTESTS Protesters float yellow raft down the Vltava

Several thousand people in Prague took part in a silent march for democracy today in solidarity with Ukraine attacked by Russia. The march set out from Na Slupi street and reached Jungmann Square just after 4:00 p.m. The gathering then continued to Wenceslas Square toward the Concert for Future.

The rally was held with the support of the association Million Moments for Democracy movement. Earlier today, the day the group launched an installation in protest of the forthcoming presidential election.

A large question mark was suspended from a yellow raft on the Vltava River, pointing in the direction of Prague Castle, the seat of Czech heads of state. The raft resembles the yellow inflatable that is a favorite of the Czech president in the summertime.

commemoration Czechia marks Velvet Revolution anniversary

Czechia today marks 33 years since the beginning of the Velvet Revolution in what is a national public holiday. Nov. 17 is International Student’s Day and, in Czechia, the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day.

Various commemorations are planned throughout the day. Former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš along with opposition party ANO colleagues Alena Schillerová and Karel Havlíček this morning laid wreaths at Prague's Nov. 17 memorial plaque. It was visited by Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová yesterday. Babiš was met with boos and a man in a monkey costume.

In the afternoon, Wenceslas Square will hold several live music performances as part of the Concert for the Future initiative. It will include acts such as Pussy Riot, David Koller, and Lenka Dusilová. Speeches on the importance of freedom and human rights will also be given at the square.

Later today Prime Minister Petr Fiala will commemorate Nov. 17 at a memorial service on Národní třída. The same location will also feature various outdoor activities and exhibitions that will mark the Velvet Revolution.

Climate-change-awareness marches and protests by students are set to continue nationwide, and an anti-government protest by the right-wing “Czech Republic First" is planned outside the offices of Czech Television in Prague 4.

TRANSPORT Prague metro faces disruption till Sunday

There will be disruptive closures on parts of Prague’s metro lines from today until Sunday, the capital’s transport company (DPP) writes on its website.

On the “red” C metro line, there will be no service between Pražské povstání and Florenc stations. This means that trains on the line will not operate through central stations such as Muzeum, Hlavní nádraží, and I.P. Pavlova.

The “green” A metro line will not be active Strašnická and Depo Hostivař metro stations, affecting stations to the east of the line. 

A replacement bus service (with the digits “XC”) will be operating for the C line closures. Passengers whose journeys are disrupted by the A line closures are encouraged to use tram lines 7 and 37 as alternatives.

EMPLOYMENT About 40 percent of firms will raise wages before end of 2022

Before the year ends, about four in ten companies hope to officially increase their employees’ wages, according to a survey by consulting firm RSM.

The most frequent planned increase in wages was between 5 and 10 percent, which 14 percent of companies reported. This is likely to account for high national inflation (registering 13.5 percent in October).

Less than one in ten companies planned to raise wages by over 10 percent in the remainder of this year. About 60 percent of companies ruled out any agreed wage increases before end-2022.

MILITARY Up to 4,000 Ukrainian soldiers to be trained in Czechia by 2023

The government has drawn up a bill that will see up to 4,000 Ukrainian soldiers trained in Czechia by the end of 2023, ČTK reports.

Czech Defense Minister Jana Černochová said yesterday that the training is based on a bilateral agreement between the Czech and Ukrainian governments, and will soon be part of the EU’s Ukraine assistance mission. Up to a total of 800 Ukrainian soldiers are scheduled to receive training in Czechia by the end of this year.

The Defense Ministry estimates total costs of almost CZK 1 billion. It will be paid by both the Czech state and the EU.

Nov. 16, 2022

FAMILIES Child benefits to rise from 2023

In a government proposal earlier today, child welfare allowances are set to rise by CZK 200 monthly, as written by Seznam Zprávy. Households with a net income of up to 3.4 times the subsistence minimum are entitled to child benefits. Depending on the child's age, families now receive CZK 630, CZK 770, or CZK 880 every month. In families where at least one parent works, studies, is on parental leave or has a pension, the benefit is CZK 500 higher.

FINANCE Czech household indebtedness rises considerably in Q3

Data from the Czech Banking and Non-Banking Register of Client Information shows that household indebtedness rose by a substantial 10 percent year on year in the third quarter of 2022, ČTK reports. The total now stands at CZK 3.15 trillion.

"The credit market is going through a significant change this year. Long-term indebtedness is affected by rising mortgage rates, their reduced availability, and high real estate prices," said Executive Director of the Non-Banking Register Jiří Rajl.

LEGISLATION Lower house approves creation of new digital and information agency

The Chamber of Deputies greenlighted today the establishment of a state Digital and Information Agency to interlink civil service information systems with citizens’ data and secure the sharing of digital services, ČT24 reports. It was approved by 92 of the 178 members of parliament present.

The agency is to be established at the beginning of 2023 and will include 187 employees from the Interior Ministry. The new agency is to focus on three specific areas: shared services and professional education; user-friendliness and analyses; and cooperation and development.

ECONOMY Producer prices in Czechia grow sharply

According to a data release today by the Czech Statistical Office (CZSO), producer prices for all components (agriculture, industry, and construction) rose significantly on a year-on-year basis.

Agricultural producer prices went up by 27.1 percent from the year-earlier level, industrial producer prices rose by 24.1 percent, and those of construction went up by a lower 12 percent.

Production prices for cereal rose by 49.3 percent year on year, potatoes by 26.7 percent, oilseeds by 24.6 percent, and fresh vegetables by 20 percent, the CZSO reports.

UKRAINE Prague mayor says capital has little space for new refugees

According to Prague mayor Zdeněk Hřib, Prague “does not have the capacity for emergency accommodation for potential new refugees from Ukraine,” ČTK reports. He asserted yesterday that the space available was “already exhausted” and the city is ill-prepared for a potential winter wave of migration.

He also strongly called for the central government to create a properly functioning distribution system for refugees, so that other cities in Czechia would accept more Ukrainians. Almost half a million refugees have been granted temporary protection visas since February.

POLITICS President budget veto overruled by Chamber of Deputies

Members of parliament (MPs) in the Chamber of Deputies yesterday evening overruled the presidential veto on the amendment to the state budget for this year.

The proposal had increased the approved budget deficit by CZK 95 billion, to CZK 375 billion, but was vetoed by President Miloš Zeman last month. The votes of at least 101 members of the lower house are needed to override the president's veto: 103 legislators – all ruling coalition MPs present – voted for the budget amendment.

MILITARY Czech soldiers to get 10 percent pay rise next year

Under a proposed law drafted by the Defense Ministry, salaries of Czech career soldiers will rise by 10 percent from 2023. Police and firefighters are also said to receive a salary increase of 10 percent in the new year, though no official bills have been approved.

The salaries of privates, the lowest military rank, would increase by the same sum as the minimum wage; by about CZK 350 gross per month.

The army general, the highest military rank, will receive CZK 143,850 monthly.

The rate of year-on-year inflation was 13.5 percent in October.

WAR NATO, Czechia on high alert after Poland missile strike

Missiles that killed two people in Poland Tuesday evening, near its border with Ukraine, have sparked huge alarm internationally as in Czechia.

The source of the explosion is not yet confirmed, although many actors speculate that Russia orchestrated the attack.

"We will learn soon whether this was a lapse or a deliberate act and provocation. All sides are now trying to investigate this and to find out what type of missile it was exactly,” Czech Minister of Defense Jana Černochová tweeted Tuesday evening.

Russia has defended itself, claiming that the missiles originated from Ukraine, and has named the accusations as “provocation aimed at escalation,” the BBC says.

The Polish government has convened an emergency meeting as it decides whether to invoke Article 4 of the NATO treaty, which “allows NATO members to bring any issue of concern, especially regarding security, for discussion” among all nations in the alliance, as summarized by Reuters.

Nov. 15, 2022

INTERNAL AFFAIRS President hits back at police over Prague Castle security debate

As part of the ongoing – bordering on fierce – debate surrounding security checks at Prague Castle, the President’s Office has released a new statement today.

President Miloš Zeman is continuing his advocation of ending security checks on citizens before entering Prague Castle’s grounds. He called on Czechia’s police authorities to perform a systemic analysis of the effectiveness, and purposes, of the existent security checks to justify their continuation.

“We have lost confidence in the actions of the Police of the Czech Republic and in the setting of security measures at Prague Castle,” the press release damningly says.

Zeman hopes for the abolition of, or at least substantial change in, the current checks to avoid repelling citizens and tourists. He also wants queues outside Prague Castle to lessen.

EMPLOYMENT Government prepares 'kurzarbeit' regime – if needed

The Czech Labour and Social Affairs Ministry has drafted a government directive enabling the "kurzarbeit" system – in which firms receive state payments for staff’s wages if employees’ working hours are cut – ČTK reports today.

In a tripartite meeting of politicians, trade union leaders, and employers, Labor Minister Marian Jurečka said that the measure was mooted in case of future gas shortages. However, the current situation warrants no alarm: "at present…nothing indicates the need to activate [the kurzarbeit regime]," Jurečka said earlier.

POLITICS Opposition party to defend president's state budget veto

The opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party today declared that it will not vote against President Miloš Zeman’s veto of the 2022 state budget amendment. 

Earlier this month Zeman vetoed a suggested amendment to the 2022 state budget, citing unhappiness with lower-than-possible government revenues.

SPD leader Tomio Okamura justified the decision to defend the president’s veto by saying that “the government had not sufficiently supported the citizens and had not economized,” ČTK reports.

On Oct. 18, the lower house passed a widening in the state budget deficit, from CZK 280 billion to CZK 375 billion.

POLITICS ANO still most-popular party in Czechia

An opinion poll shows that a hypothetical general election would place the current opposition party ANO as the winner – by a considerable margin. The survey, made by the Median agency, asked respondents in October about their voting preferences.

Populist ANO’s vote share increased slightly from September, to 31.5 percent of the vote. The Civic Democrats received 13.5 percent, a 2.5-percentage-point decline from the previous month. In third place was the Freedom and Direct Democracy party, with 12 percent.

In the de facto legislative election that took place in October 2021 last year, ANO received 27 percent of the vote and subsequently lost power.

DIPLOMACY Czech foreign minister to receive human rights award

Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský today starts his two-day visit to Great Britain. He will hold talks with his counterpart James Cleverly and other government ministers.

Lipavský will receive a human rights prize (the Magnitsky Award) for his contribution to the protection of human rights – namely Ukrainians, amid the current war.

This is Lipavský’s first visit to the country. Among other things, the main topic of the meeting will be the deepening of interdepartmental cooperation between countries. The ministers will also discuss Czech-British business collaboration.

EMERGENCY Large fire in Central Bohemia under control

A large fire that broke out in the center of Benešov, Central Bohemia, is under control according to local authorities. As reported by ČTK, a shop in the town caught fire on Monday afternoon – five people were treated for smoke inhalation, but nobody was taken to hospital. The building was engulfed in flames for several hours before being extinguished. Total damage to the premises affected is estimated to be at CZK 50 million. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

Nov. 14, 2022

POLITICS Chamber of Deputies Speaker gives warning on EU enlargement

Chamber of Deputies Chairwoman Markéta Pekarová Adamová has warned against excess EU enlargement. At the opening of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs (COSAC) today, she noted: “this [EU enlargement] is not a consensual topic. It is clear to me that a great deal of Europeans are afraid [of it]." 

In June, EU leaders officially made Ukraine and Moldova EU candidates. These countries asked for their acceptance as soon as possible, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In July, the EU started accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia. 

Candidate countries must fulfill and fully adhere to 35 chapters during negotiations with the EU before they become an EU country. 

INCIDENTS Woman tragically crushed to death in garbage truck

A young woman in Havířov (Moravia-Silesia) tragically died after being crushed to death in a garbage truck this morning, Dení reports. The woman ostensibly slept under papers in a waste container – she was undetected by the workers until it was too late.

“The garbage truck operator was about to dump the contents of the container into the truck when they heard a scream. After turning off the pressing equipment, a body was found. It was a young woman," said Soňa Štětínská, a spokeswoman for the Moravian-Silesian police.

ENVIRONMENT Students around Czechia begin climate protest

According to the Universities for Climate group, a pro-environment organization in Czechia, students at some Czech universities went on strike today, arguing that the government is not dealing sufficiently with the climate crisis.

Students from Prague, Brno, Olomouc, Hradec Králové, and Pilsen skipped class and instead decided to protest. Around 80 students congregated in Prague’s Jan Palach Square to protest environmental damage, ČTK reports. The students also encouraged the government to end all coal-powered power plants in the Czech Republic by 2033.

A climate march is planned in the capital on Nov. 17, a public holiday.

POLITICS Interior Ministry hangs up banner commemorating Nov. 17

The Czech Interior Ministry has hung a banner outside its building commemorating the upcoming Nov. 17 celebration and the Velvet Revolution. The new display replaces the controversial image of Russian President Vladimir Putin in a body bag. The previous banner had evoked both positive and negative emotions in Czechia.

According to Interior Minister Vít Rakušan, Nov. 17 challenges, appeals and encourages people to think about how Czechia dealt with the values, ideals, and thoughts of the revolutionary events, ČTK reports.

TRANSPORT Train derails on way to Prague center, line closed

Shortly after midnight, a freight train carriage derailed after leaving the Prague-Horní Počernice station today, as seen on the Railway Administration website.

According to Prague Integrated Transport (PID), rail line connections between Horní Počernice and Prague hlavní nádraži (Prague Main Station) are suspended.

The route between Horní Počernice and Masaryk Railway Station in Prague is also closed. Replacement bus services are listed on the PID site. Disruption is expected until approximately 5:30 p.m.

ELECTION Almost 3 in 4 Czechs have a favorite candidate for president

With the presidential election just two months away, almost 75 percent of voters have a definite favorite candidate they would choose, according to a poll by the Median agency. Eighteen percent said that they had no favorite and 10 percent were “not sure” who to vote for, according to the survey as covered by

Voters of ANO were most likely to have already picked a favorite candidate. Elderly voters were the most likely to have no favorite.

A particularly high amount – 83 percent – of people claimed they planned to vote in the first round of the election, due to take place on Jan. 13 and Jan. 14. Turnout in the most recent presidential election was 62 percent.

POLITICS President’s Office reaffirms wish to end Prague Castle security measures

The President’s Office released an official statement yesterday confirming its view that security checks outside Prague Castle should be removed or fundamentally changed.

The announcement came in response to a press release by the national police, in which it was said that checks should continue for safety reasons, citing the Russian-Ukraine war as a factor. President Miloš Zeman holds the view that the security checks “were no longer correct and in harmony with citizens' interests,” ČTK reports.

They had been introduced in 2016 and were initially encouraged by Zeman.

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