The Czech Ministry of Defence has approved the purchase of 12 helicopters from the United States at a cost of CZK 14.6 billion not including VAT. The minister of defence, Lubomír Metnar, said that he had informed the government of the move at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. His officials aim to conclude the contract to buy eight UH-1Y Venom and four AH-1Z Viper helicopters from manufacturer Bell by the end of the year. Mr. Metnar said the new aircraft were needed to replace Mil Mi-24s that would soon not be fit for purpose, adding that the Czech Republic should also no longer be dependent on helicopters that were made in Russia.
Students at the Faculty of Arts at Prague’s Charles University began an
occupational strike aimed at boosting awareness of climate change on
Organisers said participants planned to sleep at the faculty overnight before the protest culminates on Palach Square, in front of the building, on Wednesday.
However, faculty staff have said that they must exit the building by 10 pm.
Czech clerics and pilgrims attended a special event at St. Peter’s
Basilica in the Vatican on Tuesday marking the 30th anniversary of the
canonisation of St. Agnes of Bohemia. A mass was held in honour of Pope
John Paul II, who canonised the Czech saint on November 12, 1989, just days
before the start of the Velvet Revolution.
Tuesday’s mass was conducted by the leader of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Dominik Duka. Prayers were said at an altar to St. Wenceslas, a statute of St. Agnes, the tomb of St. Peter and the place where Cardinal Josef Beran's remains were interred before being returned to his homeland last year.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, will take part in celebrations of the
30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Bratislava on Saturday. Mr.
Zeman will lay a wreath at a plaque at Comenius University and will also
open a new Czech House in the city. However, as previously announced, he
will not be attending any events in Prague on Sunday, the actual
anniversary of the start of the revolution.
Mr. Zeman’s spokesperson, Jiří Ovčáček, said that on November 17 he would be observing a silent remembrance, which was more valuable than “poetic words”.
Mr. Ovčáček also said that some people had “stolen” the anniversary and would be holding a “hate gathering” in the Czech capital.
The 75th edition of the Prague Spring International Music Festival will
open with a special concert on May 7 featuring the Berlin Philharmonic
conducted by Kirill Petrenko. Smetana’s My Country, which usually
launches the festival, will be heard on the traditional date of May 12,
performed this time by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra helmed by conductor
The 2020 Prague Spring festival will feature 53 concerts and close on the traditional date of June 4.
The first edition was held in 1946 under the patronage of Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš.
Wooden breakwaters aimed at protecting Prague’s Charles Bridge from ice
and flooding are now back in place following a major renovation job,
Novinky.cz reported. New breakwaters, which stand in front of seven of the
bridge’s 15 arches, were installed at a cost of CZK 30 million.
The structures replaced ones dating from 2004. The previous breakwaters were destroyed by flooding two years earlier.
The current Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, has been absent from lower
house sessions more frequently than any of his predecessors, the news site
iRozhlas.cz reported. Mr. Babiš has missed 73 percent of votes during his
time as PM. He is also frequently not present when interpellation takes
place, and has missed over half since the last elections.
Last week Mr. Babiš said in an interview that he would no longer attend Chamber of Deputies sessions as they were eating into valuable time when he could be working.
The second least present Czech PM was Miloš Zeman, with Václav Klaus and Bohuslav Sobotka tied for third place.
The Czech minimum wage, currently at 13,350 crowns, is the lowest in
Central Europe, and in terms of buying power, such employees are even worse
off, the business daily Hospodářské noviny writes.
Unions are lobbying for the minimum wage to rise to 15,000 crowns next year while employers’ associations propose a rise of just 700 crowns. About 150,000 people are in minimum wage jobs, according to the newspaper.
Czechs’ comparative purchasing power should rise from 66 percent of the average of euro zone countries now to 71 percent next year, according to the Ministry of Finance.
Czech police detained two foreign nationals at Prague’s main airport who
are suspected of smuggling 142 kilograms of the stimulant drug khat in
seven suitcases on an inbound flight from Tel Aviv.
Khat, native to the Horn of Africa and Arabian Peninsula, is banned in most of Europe. If found guilty, the alleged smugglers face up to 12 years in prison.
Police note the plant must be chewed fresh to have any effect and so was likely intended for domestic distribution.