Czech weekend headlines: Former PM Babiš leads latest presidential poll

Plus: Prague Planetarium to close for one year to install new projection system, Nosková falls in Adelaide International final, and more weekend headlines. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 07.01.2023 11:46:00 (updated on 11.01.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

Politics Former Czech PM Babiš leads latest presidential election poll

Five days ahead of next weekend's presidential election, former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš leads all candidates, according to the latest poll conducted by STEM for CNN Prima News. However, Babiš would lose to either Petr Pavel or Danuše Nerudová when a run-off election between the top two candidates is held later this month, the polls show.

Despite an ongoing trial over EU subsidy fraud, the verdict of which is expected Monday, Babiš leads all candidates with 27.9 percent of the vote according to the latest poll. Pavel follows at 26.7 percent and Nerudová at 24.4 percent. In the final run-off election, however, either Pavel or Nerudová would defeat Babiš with 57 percent of the vote, according to the STEM poll.

Tourism Prague Planetarium to close for one year from April

Prague Planetarium will close for approximately one year from this April as a new and improved projection system is installed within its dome, the venue's PR manager Dominika Šimoňaková told local media this morning. The popular Prague educational site, which rates among the largest planetariums in Europe, should fully reopen to visitors next spring, she added.

"I can confirm that we will be closing the planetarium at the end of April. We don't know the exact date yet," says Šimoňaková. "By autumn, the existing projection system will be dismantled and then a new one will be installed - an LCD screen throughout the dome, which will be unique worldwide. We would like to open in the spring of 2024, but it will depend on the progress of the installation."

Sports Nosková falls to Sabalenka in Adelaide International final

Czech tennis sensation Linda Nosková fell to Aryna Sabalenka this morning in the final at this year's Adelaide International 3-6, 6-7 to end efforts to win her first career title. The 18-year-old Nosková had knocked out first-seeded Ons Jabeur and former WTA world #1 Victoria Azarenka earlier in the tournament.

Nosková, who won the Junior French Open last year, showed the best performance of her young career in Adelaide, and will rocket up in WTA rankings. The Czech teenager is expected to move up from her current ranking of #102 to #56 when the latest WTA poll is released on Monday.

Military Czech Republic commits to spending 2 percent of GDP on defense

A new law approved by the Czech Republic's government this past week ensures that the country will spend 2 percent of the country's GDP on defense. While NATO members commit to spending this amount on defense each year, the last time the Czech Republic crossed this threshold was in 2005.

"Security and defense of the Czech Republic are long-term government priorities, and of course, at a time when Russia has started a war and is conducting aggression in Ukraine, it only confirms and emphasizes how important defense and security are," Prime Minister Petr Fiala stated.

Politics Czech president to honor Austrian counterpart

Czech President Miloš Zeman will bestow the Order of the White Lion, the country's highest honor, on his Austrian counterpart Alexander Van der Bellen, Zeman told radio station Frekvence 1 on Saturday. Zeman indicated that he would do so during Van der Bellen's visit to the Czech Republic before the Czech president leaves office in March.

"I think he deserves it," Zeman said. The Czech President also stated that he would like to open a Czech House diplomatic center in Serbia, and relocate the Czech Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, before his term ends. The current Czech government has yet to approve the Embassy's move, which contradicts the EU's stance on Jerusalem.

Money Analysts peg Czech inflation at around 16-17 percent in December

Despite lower fuel prices, Czech inflation remained high in December due to rising food costs, according to analysts contacted by Czech News Agency. Lower estimates peg year-on-year December inflation at 15.8 percent in December, while upper estimates place last month's inflation at 17.2 percent.

Both figures would continue a steady upward trend in year-on-year inflation rates after the country recorded a significant dip in October at 15.1 percent year-on-year before rising to 16.2 percent in November. Last December, year-on-year Czech inflation was 6.6 percent. The Czech Statistical Office will publish official data on inflation in December on Tuesday.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Culture Three Kings procession passes through central Prague

The annual Three Kings procession, which highlights one of the biggest charity drives in the Czech Republic, passed through the center of Prague yesterday for the first time in three years following cancellations in 2021 and 2022 due to pandemic concerns. Characters dressed as the biblical Three Kings rode on the backs of camels across Charles Bridge into the center of the Czech capital.

Like other European countries, the Three Kings parade includes a traditional depiction of Balthazar portrayed by a white performer in blackface. While the depiction has stirred controversy in other countries, the Czech Republic adheres to the tradition without much discussion despite recent bans on blackface in Czech television and theatrical productions.

Sports Linda Nosková advances to final at Adelaide International

Teenage Czech sensation Linda Nosková continues her fairytale run at the Adelaide International in Australia, and will compete for her very first career title tomorrow against Aryna Sabalenka. This morning, the 18-year-old unseeded Czech star pulled off a magical upset of top seed and WTA world #2 Ons Jabeur 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.

“Definitely a tough match. I don’t think either of us played 100 percent, so I’m glad I had the last point to win,” Nosková told reporters after the match. “I’m just really glad to play like this.” Earlier in the tournament, Nosková knocked out former world #1 Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-7, 7-6.

Money Czech currency continues strong showing against dollar, euro

The Czech crown strengthened against both the dollar and euro heading into the weekend, continuing strong showings against both major world currencies to kick off 2023. The crown closed Friday at CZK 24.02/EUR and CZK 22.66/USD according to local server Patria Online.

Over the past year, the value of the Czech crown fluctuated during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but ultimately came out strong. Last March, the crown stood at CZK 25.77/EUR; on Wednesday, the crown reached 12-year highs against the euro when it briefly dipped below CZK 24/EUR.

Crime Verdict in former PM's subsidy fraud case to be delivered Monday

The final verdict in the Čapí hnízdo (Stork's Nest) case involving EU subsidy fraud against former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš will be delivered on Monday after a four-month trial, representatives from Prague’s Municipal Court stated on Friday. Babiš and former adviser Jana Nagyová, both on trial over suspected fraud, delivered their closing arguments yesterday.

Lead prosecutor Jaroslav Šaroch has proposed three-year suspended prison sentence with a five-year probationary period for both defendants, along with a CZK 10 million fine for Babiš and CZK 500,000 fine for Nagyová. The verdict will come just days ahead of the Czech Republic's next presidential election, where Babiš continues to poll among the top three candidates.

Traffic Czech roads see lowest number of fatalities in 60 years

A total of 454 people died as a result of road accidents in the Czech Republic last year, Deputy Chief of Police Tomáš Lerch and director of traffic police Jiří Zlý told reporters during a press conference yesterday. The number represents 16 fewer people than in 2021 and the lowest number of road fatalities since police began tracking annual statistics 60 years ago.

A total of 98,460 traffic accidents were reported over 2022, a year-on-year dip of 872 accidents. "Last year, there was a traffic accident that was investigated by the Police of the Czech Republic every five minutes," stated Zlý. "Every 21 minutes there was an injury, every 19 hours a person was killed. Every day, on average, material damage of almost 21 million crowns was incurred."

Sports Czech junior hockey players to compete against US next year

Junior hockey players from the Czech Republic, who won a silver medal at this year's World Championships on Thursday, will compete against counterparts from the United States at next year's World Championship in Gothenburg. Slovakia, Switzerland and Norway will play against the U.S. and Czech Republic in Group B, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) announced on Friday.

Canada, Sweden, Finland, Germany and Latvia will compete in Group A in Gothenburg. The IIHF World Junior Championship will return to Europe next year from December 26 through January 5 after taking place in Canada for the past three years due to pandemic concerns. Coming in second, the Czech team scored their best result since 2001 during this year's tournament.

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