Czech news roundup: Friday, December 3, 2021
19:15 Police arrest 53 illegal migrants in Břeclav region
Czech police on Thursday and Friday arrested 53 illegal migrants in four cars in the border district of Břeclav, neighboring Slovakia and Austria, as well as the four drivers. A stranger driven car with nine migrant passengers in the vehicle forced two police barriers in an unsuccessful attempt to escape. The driver eventually forced his way through the barrier and was later arrested, trapped between two police cars. On Friday afternoon, South Moravian police stopped three other vehicles and arrested 44 migrants, mostly from Syria and including three children.
18:08 Poll: one-fifth of Czechs are anti-vaccine
Some 19% of Czechs reject the coronavirus vaccination, while 14% have firmly decided that they will never be vaccinated and 6% are still hesitant to be vaccinated, according to a November poll conducted by the polling institute STEM. In comparison, compulsory vaccination is supported by 43 percent of respondents, but the same number is against compulsory vaccination. Vaccinees have shown great interest in the third booster dose. So far, healthcare professionals have administered approximately 13.69 million doses of the vaccine. About 6.39 million Czechs have a full vaccination and over a million have the booster dose. About three quarters of Czechs have received at least the first dose or are planning to be vaccinated. The other interviewees are either clearly skeptical or uncertain.
17:35 Defamation complaints against Czech news server dismissed
The Czech police will not initiate criminal proceedings against the authors of the article by server Seznam zprávy on Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček’s planned trip to Moscow, the server wrote today and the police unit against the organized crime confirmed to CTK. The police closed the criminal complaint lodged by Hamáček, who is also interior minister and until recently head of the junior government of the Social Democrats, against the journalists of Seznam zprávy. In his complaint, Hamacek accused the journalists of defamation and of alarm bells.
16:39 Agreement on Czech aid to the Polish border crisis
Poland has accepted an offer of assistance from the Czech government to help with the migrant crisis unfolding on the Polish-Belarusian border. The Czech Defense Ministry announced Poland’s decision to accept the aid, with the start of negotiations on the specific support to be provided. The deployment of army engineers to the border is believed to be the most likely form of aid, although the deployment of army resources requires parliamentary approval. The move comes as Warsaw tries to cope with a migrant crisis it says was sparked by the Belarusian regime of Alexander Lukashenko.
3:00 p.m. President Zeman has no symptoms of Covid
Presidential office chief Vratislav Mynář said President Miloš Zeman showed no symptoms of Covid and was keen to continue forming the new government. Mynář said the president was able to work normally, despite testing positive for Covid last Thursday. Zeman is currently meeting with ministerial candidates and wants to meet with new Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala once those appointments are completed, which is expected to be either next weekend or by the start of the following week. Zeman has expressed the hope that the new government will be in place by mid-December.
2:45 p.m. The candidate Minister of Labor wants a rapid reform of pensions
Christian Democrat leader Marian Jurečka met with President Miloš Zeman today to discuss his goals for his future role as Minister of Labor in the new government. After the meeting, Jurečka said he wanted to make changes to the Czech pension system over the next two years. Its goals include increasing old-age pensions for parents and promoting changes to ensure that pensions increase with the number of children raised by the pension holder. The monthly old-age pension is already expected to increase by 500 CZK per child raised in 2023, although this premium is capped at 1,500 CZK.
12:12 Court investigating grant to the office of the head of the presidential office
The attorney general lodged an administrative complaint against the finance ministry’s decision that the company of the head of the Czech presidential office, Vratislav Mynář, does not need to repay a subsidy of CZK 6 million for a pension, a the attorney general’s office told CTK today. The regional court in Ostrava in northern Moravia will now rule on the administrative case. Mynář’s company received a grant in 2011 for the reconstruction of a pension in Osvetimany, in south-eastern Moravia, which police say harms the financial interests of the European Union. Investigators and an inspection from the regional grants office say Mynar did not state in his application that the same institution had previously received a grant from the Department of Education. Mynář denies having committed a crime.
11:51 Pre-1989 shooting involving senior Communist officials reopened
Prosecutors will reopen the case of top pre-1989 Communist officials Lubomir Strougal and Vratislav Vajnar, suspected of abuse of power following a shooting at the Czechoslovak borders that killed or injured people, the Constitutional Court ruled today (United States). Strougal, 97, was Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia from 1970 to 1988 and Vajnar, 91, was Minister of the Interior from 1983 to 1988. Prosecutors initially suspended their proceedings, arguing that they were both suffering from an mental illness that prevented them from understanding the criminal process. However, the United States overturned the previous ruling by the Prague City Prosecutor’s Office and ordered it to rule on the case and that further expert opinions on the suspects’ mental health be given. The case is brought by the families of Germans injured or killed on the Czechoslovak border, citizens of East Germany who tried to cross the Iron Curtain on the border of communist Czechoslovakia.
Morning press briefing
Czech Republic sees unprecedented Hollywood investment
Despite the Covid pandemic, more Hollywood film productions are being made in the Czech Republic than ever before. Extraction 2, starring Chris Hemsworth, is now filming in Prague, after several huge productions this year, including The Gray Man, starring Ryan Gosling and expected to be Netflix’s most expensive production.
Next year will see even more Hollywood investment, and depending on the volume of orders for Hollywood filmmakers to shoot in Prague, the current period is the strongest on record. The Czech State Film Fund is calling for increased incentives to capitalize on this unprecedented interest. Some sources claim that a big-budget film adaptation of the Nosferatu horror story, starring The Queen’s Gambit star Anya Taylor-Joy, could be the next big movie to shoot in Prague.
the spirit of christmas Prague 2 lends a helping hand to Christmas market vendors
Traders who had to close their stalls at the Náměstí Míru Christmas market due to the government’s pandemic restrictions have found sympathy with local authorities. Prague City Hall 2 purchased nearly 300 packages containing small gifts, wine, sweets, cookies and handicrafts from vendors to present to employees and customers of the Social Service Center as well as in primary schools .
Deputy Mayor of Prague 2 Alexandra Udženija said that “each day that the Christmas markets are closed is another blow for traders and small business owners. We did not hesitate to help them a little, by buying small gifts for the employees of the Social Services Center, as well as for the teachers. At the same time, we made the seniors happy. Provide help while making people happy; for me it is the spirit of Christmas.
Investment Czech biotech start-up receives CZK 7.1 billion boost
Sotio, a Czech biotech company researching novel cancer treatments, has received CZK 7.1 billion in funding from the PPF investment group. The money will be used to expand and develop Sotio’s product portfolio, launch new clinical trials and other developments by the end of 2023.
The main objective of Sotio is to bring to the market an original anticancer drug; such a scientific breakthrough would bring enormous financial gains to the company. For such a drug to be brought to market, it must first go through three clinical trials, an expensive and demanding process. New funds will be used to conduct trials for the company’s flagship product, SOT101, which stimulates the immune system by activating white blood cells to kill cancer cells. New products will enter the first phase of testing.
International relationships The Petřín Tower lights up in the colors of the United Arab Emirates
The city of Prague celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Arab Emirates by illuminating the Petřín Tower in the colors of the United Arab Emirates. The Czech Embassy in the Emirates has called for the move, and Prague is also reacting to a similar move by the UAE in 2019, which lit a skyscraper in Abu Dhabi in the colors of the Czech flag.
Coincidentally, the flag of the United Arab Emirates was designed by Abdullah Al Maainah, who was the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the Czech Republic until 2020. Last year, the Petřín Tower was illuminated to support the fighters of Belarusian freedom and neighboring Austria after the terrorist attacks in Vienna.
Czech history Olomouc experts recreate a synagogue destroyed by the Nazis
Experts from the geoinformatics department of Palacký University in Olomouc created a detailed 3D model of the old synagogue that stood in the center of Olomouc until it was set on fire by the Nazi occupiers in 1939. The model was created using a 3D printer and will serve as a mold for a bronze model of the synagogue to be installed in the city’s Palach Square.
The Jewish community of Olomouc is at the origin of the project, which is financially supported by the city authorities. The idea of creating a memorial to the synagogue arose in 2017 during the reconstruction of a parking lot in Palach Square on the site of the old synagogue. The production of the current plastic model required 2,300 hours of 3D printing. It is hoped that the final bronze monument will be put in place within the next year.