Relations within the Russian community in the Czech Republic are worsening, according to a 2015 report on the state of the country’s minorities prepared by the government’s council for minorities. The deterioration of relations within the Russian community stem from controversy over the crisis in Ukraine, rivalry among Russian entrepreneurs in the Czech Republic and the fact that newcomers from Russia often fail to respect established norms. The report also mentions increased lobbying from Russians in Parliament and among Czech politicians as well as increased pro-Putin propaganda.
The centre-right TOP 09 party wants to propose an amendment to the asylum law that would make it mandatory for people who are granted asylum in the Czech Republic to take part in integration programs. The party’s deputy chair Helena Langšádlová presented the proposal to journalists in Prague on Friday. She said support for refugees was important and the country should admit those in need but stressed that clear rules would have to be laid down and observed in the process; those granted asylum would have to make an effort to integrate, those not willing to learn Czech and comprehend our values and traditions would have to leave the country. TOP 09 is also pushing for schools to provide better education about different cultures and religions in order for Czechs to be more open to foreigners.
Close to 300 Roma musicians took part in a Roma music parade through the centre of Prague on Friday. The event held within the Khamoro week-long festival of Romany culture was attended by over a dozen music ensembles from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Macedonia, France, Spain and Russia. The festival, which included debates, lectures, film-screenings and workshops, ends on Saturday with a gala concert.
The landslide which buried part of the under-construction D8 highway, linking Prague with Saxony in Germany, was caused by negligence in the operation of a nearby quarry, according to an expert study commissioned by the Czech Transport Ministry, the internet site aktualne.cz reported on Friday. The slope landslide buried part of the highway near the town of Litochovice in June of last year following heavy rainfall. The ministry is now claiming billion crown damages from Kamen Zbraslav, the company operating the quarry.
Shops and restaurants will not be banned from advertising their goods and services solely in a foreign language, the ctk news agency reported. A draft bill which would have allowed municipalities to issue such a ban, forcing entrepreneurs to advertise in Czech as well, was rejected by deputies in the lower house on Friday. The bill emerged in reaction to complaints from municipalities and citizens. For instance Karlovy Vary, which has a large Russian community, pointed out that a large number of shops and restaurants only advertise their goods and services in Russian which is often incomprehensible to the locals. Critics of the bill, led by the Civic Democratic Party, said it would be an unjustified bureaucratic intervention into local enterprise.
The Czech Republic provided development aid worth close to 5 billion crowns in 2015, according to a preliminary estimate published by the Czech Development Agency. The money was used to secure access to drinking water for villages in Ethiopia, finance the education of socially challenged children in Palestine and help farmers in Afghanistan, among others. According to Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Tlapa Czech firms have shown a growing interest in investing in the developing world, but there are few willing to invest in the poorest countries.
Police have charged eight Czechs and one Slovak national in connection with a security van robbery in 2013. The attackers stopped the van transporting cash and stole over 2 million crowns. One of the security guards was injured in the attack. A number of those charged have admitted their part in the plot. If convicted they could get sentences of between 5 and 12 years.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will pay a two-day working visit to Moldova on June 9-10, the Office of the Government announced on Friday. The Czech prime minister will hold talks with his Moldovan counterpart Pavel Filip and President Nicolae Timofti. The talks are expected to cover Moldova’s ambition to join the EU, the crisis around Transnistria, a strip of land between the River Dniester and the eastern Moldovan border with Ukraine governed by Russian separatists, and bilateral ties, predominantly ways of boosting business and trade.
The Czech economy grew by 3.0 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2016, according to revised figures released by the Czech Statistical Office on Friday. Compared to the previous quarter, the country’s gross domestic product grew by 0.4 percent. The figures are slightly lower than the previous estimate which expected a year-on-year growth of 3.1 percent and quarterly growth of 0.5 percent.
As of 2018, retailers in the Czech Republic will most probably be banned from providing plastic bags to customers free of charge. On Friday, the Government's Legislative Council recommended a new law on packaging, which would comply with new EU directives. The law has to be adopted by November of this year and would take effect from 2018. If this does not happen, the Czech Republic would face a fine of at least 54 million crowns from the EU. All big retailers in the Czech Republic have already started charging customers for plastic bags.