Daily news summary

Vojtěch rejects deputy’s “small communities” suggestion

The minister of health, Adam Vojtěch, has rejected a suggestion put forward by his deputy that Czechs should only be in contact with three families so as to avoid contracting Covid-19. Speaking on Tuesday, Mr. Vojtěch said Deputy Minister Roman Prymula’s idea was unrealistic, adding that life was more colourful than that.

Mr. Prymula said in an interview that it would be better if Czechs lived in small communities.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 283 people had died with coronavirus in the Czech Republic. To date 8,177 cases have been detected.

Seventy-fifth edition of Prague Spring starts – online

The landmark 75th edition of the Prague Spring International Music Festival gets underway on Tuesday evening, though it will take an unusual form due to the coronavirus situation. Instead of Smetana’s My Country performed at the Municipal House, it will begin with an online concert featuring a host of musicians congratulating the event on its 75th anniversary.

During the 2020 Prague Spring 11 live concerts – with no audiences in attendance – will be streamed from five venues in Prague and one in Brno.

Among the ensembles taking part are the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Philharmonia and the Czech Philharmonic.

Bells ring out in tribute on International Nurses Day

Church bells rang out around the Czech Republic at noon on Tuesday as a tribute to the country’s medical personnel, who are currently in the frontline of the struggle against the coronavirus epidemic. The gesture was particularly aimed at nurses, who are marking International Nurses Day.

There are around 80,000 nurses and 50,000 doctors and dentists in the Czech Republic.

Some 343 nurses in this country had been infected with Covid-19 by the end of April, as had 167 doctors, including dentists.

Brabenec of Plastic People testifies in dissident harassment trial

Vratislav Brabenec of rock band the Plastic People of the Universe gave evidence in court on Tuesday against officers of the Communist-era secret police accused of forcing dissidents to leave Czechoslovakia. Mr. Brabenec said he had emigrated after the StB had threatened to kidnap his infant daughter or shoot his dog and subjected him to regular searches and interrogations.

A group of ex-dissidents have taken a case against five then StB officers accused of taking part in Operation Clearance in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It used systematic harassment to leave individuals the regime considered inconvenient with no alternative but to emigrate.

Russian embassy requests police protection for one of its diplomats

The Russian embassy has asked for one of its diplomats to be given police protection. The embassy said in a statement on its Facebook page that one of its employees had received threats in the wake of media reports about an alleged “poison plot” against Czech politicians.

The embassy said it had asked the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide the diplomat with police protection and take measures to prevent attacks against him. It said the diplomat was the victim of a “slander campaign” whipped up by the Czech media.

The Czech weekly Respekt reported on April 26 that a Russian agent had allegedly travelled to Prague a few weeks ago with a suitcase containing the highly potent toxin ricin, possibly to be used against Czech politicians who have angered the Kremlin.

The weekly linked the story to earlier reports that the mayor of Prague Zdeněk Hrib and the mayor of Prague 6 Ondřej Kolář, who ordered the removal of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev from the district’s premises, had been given police protection.

Prague and Moscow are due to start talks in the coming days to try to defuse growing tension in bilateral relations.

Agricultural drought across entire country

Agricultural drought has now spread to the entire territory of the Czech Republic, according to scientists and experts affiliated in Intersucho, a specialised data hub focused on mapping drought in the country.

According to the most recent data 98 percent of Czech territory is now affected by agricultural drought, with 57 percent of land experiencing exceptional or extreme drought, with water lacking even in the deep layers of the soil.

The prolonged period of dry weather has resulted in what experts say is the worst drought in 500 years. Environment Minister Richard Brabec has called an emergency meeting of regional and local officials from across the country for May 12 to work on a joint crisis response strategy.

Temperatures in Czech Republic tumble by up to 20 degrees Celsius

Temperatures in the Czech Republic fell by up to 20 degrees Celsius on Monday night. The lowest temperature recorded was at Luční bouda in the Krkonoše Mountains, where it was -7 degrees Celsius. There was snow in some places.

Earlier storms had knocked down trees and caused flooding in cellars in some parts of the country. A coronavirus testing tent was blown over in Česká Lípa.

Weather forecast

It should be mainly overcast in the Czech Republic on Wednesday, with daytime highs of up to 11 degrees Celsius. Cloudy skies are then expected to continue, with temperatures climbing to the mid-teens Celsius at the weekend.