Today's headlines: Daily news refresh for Czechia

The country's top news in brief for the week of Dec. 19-23, 2022.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 19.12.2022 08:57:00 (updated on 23.12.2022) Reading time: 15 minutes

Crime Czech murder rate rose significantly in 2022

The Czech Republic's murder rate rose significantly this year, according to official by shared through the website of Czech Police. The country registered a total of 105 murders in all of 2021, but that number has soared to 150 murders from January 2022 through the end of November. As in 2021, the majority of murders are committed by those who a personal relationship with the victims.

The country's overall crime rate is also on the rise, with 170,096 crimes registered through the end of November representing an increase of about 30,000 crimes year-on-year. In 2020 and 2021, crime rates saw a decline attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic; this year's numbers are more in line with 2019.

Domestic Mountain Rescue Service saves three on tallest Czech peak

Responders from the Czech Republic's Mountain Rescue Service transported three tourists from Sněžka, the tallest peak in the country, down the mountain on Thursday afternoon. The three tourists, in their mid-20s, underestimated their abilities in the severe cold weather, which included freezing rain. One of them was only wearing shorts, shoes, and gloves.

"The Mountain Rescue Service strongly requests, before the upcoming days of holiday leave, that tourists who go to all our mountain ranges do not overestimate their strength, plan their trips well with regard to their physical condition and weather conditions, and come adequately equipped," the Rescue Service wrote via their official website.

Sports Retired Czech hockey star urges NHL to band Russian players

Retired NHL star Dominik Hašek, one of the Czech Republic's most famous athletes, has urged sports organizations around the world to prohibit Russian players from competing in their leagues in an open letter shared on social media. Hašek specifically addressed hockey's NHL and the tennis world's WTA and ATP in his letter.

Unlike many other organizations, these ones had yet to restrict the participation of Russian athletes in their leagues or issue a statement on the war in Ukraine, Hašek writes. "Until now, I have not heard or read on your part a clear condemnation of the Russian aggression including the committed crimes," he says. "Worse still, you tolerate the participation of Russian athletes in your competitions."

Foreign Prague-based activist receives suspended sentence from UK court

An environmental activist from the Czech Republic has been served a two-year suspended prison sentence from a UK court after participating in a November protest that stopped traffic on one of London's busiest motorways, reports The Daily Mail. The activist traveled from Prague to London to join the Just Stop Oil event.

During the protest, the Prague-based activist and others climbed atop a frame structure over the M25 motorway in London and removed its traffic signs, causing police to shut down traffic on the road. Investigators found that the protesters posed a direct threat to drivers, who may be distracted or impacted by signs falling from the structure.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Consumer news IKEA recalls two products

IKEA is warning shoppers about a potentially unsafe piece of furniture, its ODGER chair in anthracite, timestamped before and including 2221 (22 indicates the year of manufacture and 21 the week in which the product was manufactured) due to the risk of the base breaking and the user falling or being injured. Customers are urged not to use it, the company said in a press release on Wednesday. The chairs can be returned to any store.

The company also announced the recall of a batch of Almondy Almond Cake with Daim chocolate (400 g) stocked at IKEA stores, due to the discovery of a metal object found in the cake. The cakes are being withdrawn from sale for preventive reasons. The recall concerns products with the lot code L2140 and a best-before date of Nov. 18, 2023. Anyone who has purchased the product can either return it to the store where it was purchased for a full refund or contact Almondy at www.almondy.com.

HEALTH Nurofen supplies arrive in the Czech Republic

Delivery of children's Nurofen has arrived in the Czech Republic and is being dispatched to pharmacies. Pharmacy network Dr. Max, Ben, and EUC confirmed the news.

Health officials are urging consumers not to stockpile the drug which should be distributed throughout pharmacies by Christmas. The Ministry of Health recently arranged the purchase of 300,000 doses of Nurofen with the manufacturer due to a national shortage. 

International Czech president commends Zelensky's trip to U.S.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's trip to the U.S. serves both a practical and a symbolic purpose, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said. According to CNN Zelensky delivered "a historic speech from the United States Capitol Wednesday night, expressing gratitude for American support in fighting Russian aggression since the war began – and asking for more."

Earlier, Zelensky met U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House. The talks are to focus on enhancing Ukrainian defense capacities. This is Zelenskiy's first foreign trip since Feb. 24 when Russia attacked Ukraine.

DIPLOMACY Matthew Field to be new British ambassador to Prague

Matthew Field will replace Nick Archer as the British ambassador to the Czech Republic an embassy spokesperson told CTK today. Field will arrive in the Czech capital in January. He was the ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Before that, he worked at the British embassy in Brazil and Croatia and was the EU Special Representative in Macedonia as well.

Archer has been ambassador to Prague for five years, since January 2018. He was the UK ambassador to Denmark before. Earlier today he posted on Twitter "My last Christmas in the Czech Republic. I wish you happy holidays and a happy new year. I'll miss you."

SPORTS Olympian Ester Ledečka wins Sportsperson of Year

Ester Ledečka, this year's Olympic winner in women's snowboard parallel giant slalom, has won the Czech Sportsperson of the Year journalists' poll for the second time, gaining 1,593 points and repeating her victory from 2018 at the award ceremony today. Women's tennis pair Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková came in second with 1,315 points and hockey player David Pastrňák, the winner from 2020, came in third.

Dec. 21, 2022

election 2023 Babiš ranks third in election opinion poll

An opinion poll released today from the Median agency shows that former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is currently the third-most-popular presidential candidate, coming behind army general Petr Pavel (28 percent) and economist Danuše Nerudová (27.5 percent). Babiš received 24.5 percent of the vote, Novinky.cz writes.

A Median poll from Dec. 9 had put Nerudová as the most-popular candidate, with Babiš in second place, 3 percentage points above Pavel.

A poll from a different company (STEM) put all three candidates’ popularity as virtually equal, with Nerudova on top with 27 percent, followed by Babiš and Pavel on 26.5 percent each.

According to the poll, Babiš is mainly supported by Czechs over 65 years of age. Nerudová and Pavel are primarily preferred by university graduates.

DIPLOMACY Czechia gets new UK ambassador

Matthew Field will replace Nick Archer as the British ambassador to the Czech Republic. He will begin his term in mid-January, ČTK writes.

Field previously served as the ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Prior to this, he worked at the British embassy in Brazil and Croatia. He has also been a political adviser in Macedonia for the EU, as well.

Archer has been ambassador to Prague for five years, since January 2018.

UKRAINE "Gift for Putin" campaign raises over CZK 3 million in four hours

The pro-Ukraine “Gift for Putin” charity ran a fundraising campaign today to raise money for a new ambulance in the style of a Hummer H1 truck, Seznam Zprávy writes.

The campaign featured a broadcast of interviews with notable public figures, such as Defense Minister Jana Černochová and political commentator Bohumil Pečinka

The target amount was CZK 1 million, which was accomplished in just 90 minutes. A total of CZK 3 million have been amassed so far (as of 2 p.m.).

You can watch the stream here.

ENERGY Prague has until end of December to choose electricity supplier

The municipality of Prague has until the end of December to select an electricity supplier for 198 organizations – such as schools, theaters, and galleries – that will provide heat in the first half of 2023. A tender had originally been issued to company Pražská energetika (PRE), but representatives in the Prague City Council had not approved this: the decision was rejected by one vote, ČTK writes.

While the city was originally supposed to purchase electricity via buying forward (setting the price and paying later), it will now pay the spot price. "We're hoping it will be cheaper," Deputy Mayor of Prague Jana Plamínková said.

IMMIGRATION Ministers discuss Czechia-Slovakia border control issue

Czech ministers today discussed the topic of existent checks on the Czechia-Slovakia border, which have been in place for three months. They are active until Dec. 27, and Czech politicians (such as Interior Minister Vít Rakušan) have praised their efficacy, citing the declining number of illegal migrants entering Czechia via Slovakia.

Minister of Agriculture Zdeněk Nekula said today in government that he favors easing, or ending, the checks due to fewer migrants being detained. “We see that our Slovak colleagues have made great progress on their territory and that they are managing to resolve and correct this situation within the entire EU," he added.

EU Czechia receives praise for presiding over Council of EU

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said Tuesday that “the Czech EU presidency has been one of the most successful” in recent decades, iRozhlas writes.

He mentioned that Czechia helped push through a complex climate package, which included a considerable restriction on the sale of new combustion-engine cars by 2035 and the establishment of a social climate fund. 

During its presidency, the Czech Republic also completed negotiations on a group of bloc-wide standards known as "Fit for 55." This should lead the EU to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 55 percent from 1990 values ​​by the end of the decade.

"I have rarely seen a presidency that was more successful, more purposeful, and more professional," said Timmermans.

Czechia is now at the end of its six-month role as president of the Council of the EU.

MEDICINE SHORTAGE Health Minister says over-the-counter drugs cannot be regulated

Amid the current shortage of pain-relief and children’s medicine, such as Nurofen, Minister of Health Vlastimil Válk has said that the state is unable to regulate the sale of over-the-counter drugs, which in part explains the current drugs shortage.

Pharmacies in Austrian towns near the Czech border are now reporting that several Czechs are visiting every day to get supplies, ČT24 writes.

Last week, the ministry informed that the manufacturer promised to deliver 300,000 packages of Nurofen to the Czech Republic, roughly a third of which should arrive by Christmas.

TRANSPORT Prague's buses affected by freezing night

Tens of bus lines have been affected in the capital by icy conditions this morning amid a freezing night. The website of Prague Integrated Transport (PID) reports that the west of Prague is currently facing the most problems.

Delays, detours, and the cancelation of some services are to be expected, PID says. You can track all updates on its website.

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has issued a glacier warning that applies from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the whole of Prague, and the north and west of the Central Bohemian Region, ČTK reports.

Dec. 20, 2022

LAW Prominent lobbyist released early from prison

Famous lobbyist and billionaire Roman Janoušek was released early from prison after serving slightly more than half of this four-and-a-half-year prison sentence, Prague Municipal Court spokesman Adam Wenig told journalists today.

Janoušek had been convicted of a hit-and-run charge when he had been driving under the influence of alcohol in 2012. He had started his sentence in late 2014, but was discharged in 2016 on health grounds, before returning in July 2021. He has again been discharged owing to ill health.

Checks ordered by the Prague High Court showed that during the interruption of his prison sentence, Janousek was pictured going to a swimming pool, cycling, and visiting galleries.

Janoušek served a total of two and a half years behind bars.

ACCIDENT Tram derails in Prague center

UPDATE: All tram services in area restored

A tram derailed in the center of Prague at about 14:25, at the intersection of the Lazarská and Spálená streets. Trams in Prague’s center will face mass disruption following the derailing. Tram lines 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 14, 18, 22, 23, and 24 are all affected. It is not yet known when normal service will resume.

Updates can be found on the official Prague Transport Company account on Twitter, @DPPOficialni, or by checking the dedicated page on its website.

HEALTH Brno University Hospital bans patient visits

Brno University Hospital has announced that it will ban patient visits from Wednesday, citing the surge of respiratory diseases in the region.

On Friday, South Moravia (where Brno lies) had 3,000 flu-struck people per 100,000 inhabitants. The epidemic threshold is between 1,700 and 2,000 per 100,000.

Visitors must also wear respirators when attending the hospital. On the weekend, Prague's Thomayerova and Na Homolce hospitals also imposed a ban on visitors amid an epidemic of the respiratory syncytial virus.

ELECTION 2023 Česká televize changes presidential debate date

The national broadcaster Česká televize (ČT) has moved its pre-election presidential “super debate” – featuring all candidates – from Jan. 12 to Jan. 8. This was to avoid a clash with a debate hosted by Nova, another television channel.

"ČT is well aware of the nationwide significance and importance of the presidential election, and therefore it refuses to turn the pre-election debates into a battle of broadcasters,” ČT Director Petr Dvořák announced, as ČTK quotes.

A few weeks ago Nova rejected ČT’s offer of co-hosting the presidential debate, citing differences in presentation. Nova prefers featuring a smaller number of candidates.

ENERGY EU ministers finally agree on gas-price cap

At a meeting of senior EU energy ministers Monday, Czechia was finally able to push through an EU-wide cap on gas prices for the bloc’s energy market.

The deal comes after weeks of talks on the emergency measure that divided EU countries, with Germany and the Netherlands opposed to the caps. As current president of the Council of the EU, Czechia had been attempting to implement the caps for months.

Minister of Trade Jozef Síkela who is representing Czechia on the EU level said yesterday that Europe will now "have a package of measures that will help it prepare for next winter and protect citizens and companies from extreme price fluctuations," as written in Deník.cz.

The ceiling for trading gas will now be set at EUR 190 (CZK 4,400) per megawatt hour. It will come into force in mid-February. It had been backed by a majority of EU countries, with Hungary voting against it. 

JOBS Repeat medical examinations for non-risky jobs no longer needed

The Ministry of Health has ruled that people working in non-risky professions will no longer need to undergo regular medical examinations, Novinky.cz reports.

This will save employers and employees “hundreds of millions” of crowns, and will allow greater care and focus to now be given to those who work in risky workplaces.

Minister of Health Vlastimil Válek also noted that the new ruling will “lead to a reduction in bureaucracy” and “significant time saving” for doctors.

ARMY Czech military to receive new German tanks in Ukraine-war effort

The Czech army will today receive the first of multiple tanks that Germany is to provide for help to Ukraine, ČTK reports.

Germany announced earlier that it would donate 14 older “Leopard 2” tanks and one tank of a different model. They are all set to arrive in Czechia next year.

Germany donated the tanks to Czechia as compensation for the Soviet-made tanks Czechia had sent to Ukraine in previous months.

Slovakia received its first German tank yesterday, and – like Czechia – expects more in 2023.

Dec. 19, 2022

COVID-19 Supreme Administrative Court supports previous mask mandate

The Supreme Administrative Court of Czechia (NSS) has today ruled that the compulsory mask-wearing mandate on public transport that had been active until mid-April this year was valid, iRozhlas writes.

A woman earlier this year argued against the law, saying that “the risk associated with infectious diseases was essentially a natural thing and that it was not the state's job to protect her against her will.” She had felt restricted by the obligation to cover her nose and mouth.

However, in accordance with the health situation at the time, the NSS stated that the order was acceptable to “protect vulnerable groups of people, even at the cost of a certain restriction on the rights of others.”

POLITICS Top politicians to get hefty pay rise

The monthly salaries of senior politicians will rise by 12.7 percent from January 2023, Novinky.cz writes. Members of the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house) and the Senate (the upper house) will now see a gross salary increase of CZK 11,600, to CZK 102,400. The presidents of both houses will now earn CZK 341,200 monthly.

Politicians’ allowances for food and transport will increase by the same rate. The salary rise comes after a multi-year freeze of politicians’ salaries.

The average gross wage in Czechia is about CZK 40,000. It was reported earlier this year that the real wage in Czechia fell 10 percent year on year.

VACCINATIONS Campaign for vaccinating Ukrainians in Czechia gets underway

Czech Health Minister Vlastimil Válek started a campaign in Brno today to boost the vaccination of Ukrainian refugees in Czechia, ČTK reports. This relates not only to Covid-19, but also to other viruses such as polio and measles. It will cost over CZK 5 million, but will be funded by the international charity UNICEF. Much of the campaign will be web-based, in the form of clips, streams, banners, etcetera.

According to UNICEF representative Yulia Oleinik, the vaccination rate in Ukraine ranks among the lowest in Europe. In Ukraine, 20 percent of children remain unvaccinated against measles and 13 percent against polio.

ELECTION 2023 Zeman – Babiš has my vote for president

In a televised interview yesterday, incumbent President Milos Zeman announced that he would pick former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš as Czechia’s next president. The main reason, Zeman said, was down to Babiš’s political experience.

Speaking of the candidates, he cited the ongoing investigation into unfairly expedited doctorate degrees at Mendel University when commenting on candidate Danuše Nerudová, who had been rector of the university at the time.

He views presidential candidate and former army general Petr Pavel as somebody qualifiably knowledgable on the military, but little else.

Opinion polls show very small margins between the three frontrunners, with a recently published survey showing Babiš as winner, and the other putting Nerudová on top.

The presidential election is less than four weeks away.

LAW Čapí Hnízdo subsidy-fraud case resumes today

The ongoing trial in the subsidy-fraud case relating to former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš will resume Monday. In March this year Babiš and his former aide Jana Nagyová were charged with illegally claiming EU subsidies (worth CZK 50 million) for the Čapí Hnízdo (or “Stork’s Nest”) conference center.

The judge plans to interview experts and further interview the defendants. Babiš defends himself, as cited in ČT24, saying “my position that it [the trial] is an absurd, ordered political prosecution…a political indictment."

WEATHER Czechia’s freezing spell near its end

Following an icy and snowy start to the week, temperatures will climb several degrees Celsius above freezing from Wednesday, the Czech Hydrometeorological Insitute forecasts. A freezing Sunday night led to temperatures dipping to as low as -22 degrees Celsius in South Bohemia, ČTK reports.

Monday will see the east and north of the country with the coldest daytime temperatures, registering between -2 and -4 degrees Celsius, before the weather gets warmer on Tuesday and Wednesday, with a forecast temperature of 3 degrees Celcius in the capital midweek. Friday will be the warmest day of the working week, with temperatures of 8 degrees Celsius forecast in Prague.

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