Daily news summary
Environment minister: drought is ‘catastrophic’, worst in 500 years
Environment Minister Richard Brabec told reporters on Wednesday that the ongoing drought has been “catastrophic” for the agricultural sector, with 80 percent of groundwater resources unusually low this spring.
In April, a so-called agricultural drought, marked by low soil moisture, stunted plant growth, reduced yields and endangered cattle, reigned over most of the Czech Republic.
The water level of the Vltava River in Prague, for example, is 22 percent its monthly average, and that of the Elbe River near Ústí nad Labem is at 28 percent normal.
This part of Europe is now facing its worst period of drought in 500 years, according to data from the scientific team InterSucho. The Ministry of the Environment is negotiating with the Ministry of Finance to provide another 3.5 billion crowns to combat the drought.
Czech Foreign Ministry tells Moscow not to interfere in country’s internal affairs
The Czech Foreign Ministry has responded curtly to a Russian protest note complaining about an article in the weekly Respekt saying the allegations made against Russia in it were “outrageous and inadmissible”.
In a statement published on its web page the Czech Foreign Ministry says the Czech Republic is a country that respects press freedom and rejects any attempts at interference from foreign states.
In reference to an ongoing diplomatic row between the two countries, over the removal of the statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev from its site in Prague, the ministry says the Czech Republic has not in any way violated the 1993 treaty between the two countries and reminds Moscow that the treaty commits the signatories not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs.
The weekly Respekt reported last week that according to unnamed security sources a Russian agent had allegedly travelled to Prague a few weeks ago with a suitcase containing the highly potent toxin called ricin, possibly to be used against Czech politicians who have angered the Kremlin.
PM: government wants to enable restrictions without state of emergency
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has said the government is planning to approve an amendment to the law on public health which would give the Health Ministry increased powers in times of crisis.
The prime minister said that the law was tailored to enable the government to maintain certain restrictions taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus even after the state of emergency in the country ends.
The proposed amendment to the law will be presented to the lower house next week, to be debated in a state of legislative emergency.
The lower house on Tuesday extended the state of emergency in the country until May 17.
Prague Castle to reopen to public on May 25, presidential spokesman says
The Prague Castle complex, seat to the Czech presidency, is scheduled to reopen to the public on May 25, as part of a relaxing of anti-coronavirus measures. Other historic state castles, chateaux and buildings are due to open in the same schedule.
Presidential spokesman Jiří Ovčáček told ČTK however that the castle park in Lány should open two weeks sooner, on May 11, along with other gardens and parks. The government had originally planned to open all such facilities on June 8.
Ombudsman: Czech state should help travel agency clients
The Czech state should support not just travel agencies affected by the coronavirus pandemic but also their clients, Ombudsman Stanislav Křeček argues.
Křeček said that while the government has taken measures to bolster businesses in the travel and tourism sector, clients are still required to pay for services they will likely not be able to use this year or pay cancellation fees.
The Ombudsman has written to minister for regional development Klára Dostálová calling on the government to take action in this regard, his spokesperson said in a press release on Tuesday.
Archbishop of Olomouc elected Czech Bishops’ Conference head
The Archbishop of Olomouc, Jan Graubner, is now officially the new president of the Czech Bishops' Conference. The bishops elected him to this position at their plenary session on Tuesday in Olomouc.
Graubner succeeds Cardinal and Archbishop of Prague Dominik Duka, who led the Bohemian and Moravian bishops, who served in the position for ten years.
He had served as chairman of the Czech Bishops’ Conference from 2000 to 2010, and was vice-chairman for the next decade.
In 2008, then President Václav Klaus awarded Graubner the Order of Tomáš Garrigu Masaryk II for his contribution to the development of democracy, humanity and human rights.
Archaeologists find secret passage at Milevsko monastery in southern Bohemia
Archaeologists have discovered a secret corridor in the Milevsko monastery in southern Bohemia with an extended room at the end. It was hidden behind a massive medieval wall, and may have saved valuables from plunder by Hussites in the early 15th century.
Researchers expect to excavate the site within a few weeks, archaeologist and team leader Jiří Šindelář told ČTK news agency. The survey project includes creating a detailed 3D mapping of the monastery complex.
Hussites set the monastery on fire in 1420, and aristocratic families later took over the complex. After the battle of White Mountain in 1620, the monastery returned to the Premonstratensian order.
Prague to buy Sts. Simon and Jude in Old Town from Vatican
Prague has obtained approval to buy the Church of Sts. Simon and Jude in Old Town from the Vatican. The municipality currently leases the church, which serves as a concert hall for the Prague Symphony Orchestra.
The city will pay 99 million crowns for the consecrated Baroque church, which dates back to the year 1354, Prague councilor Jan Chabr (TOP 09) said.
Thursday should be partly cloudy to overcast, with light rain anticipated in the evening. Average daytime highs should range from 16 to 19 degrees Celsius. More rain is expected over the long holiday weekend.