Daily news summary

Lower house votes to extend state of emergency until May 17

The lower house of Parliament has voted to extend the state of emergency in the country until May 17.

The government asked the chamber of deputies for an extension after the Prague Municipal Court cancelled the government restrictions on the free movement of people as well as retail sales and services in the country on the grounds that they were not implemented under the Crisis Act.

The ruling parties argued that if the state of emergency was not extended it would mean that the whole package of preventive measures that have enabled the country to bring the epidemic under control would end, seriously increasing the risk of a fresh outbreak.

The government’s original proposal for an extension until May 25 did not win approval.

Czech security experts warn of growing Russian aggression

Czech security experts have warned against growing Russian aggression and attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the Czech Republic. They cite the diplomatic row over the statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev as a case in point, urging the Czech Foreign Ministry to take a tougher stance towards Moscow.

According to the weekly Respekt the experts who issued the warning include the former chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Petr Pavel, and the former Czech ambassador to Russia Petr Kolář.

The weekly moreover linked the warning to information from an unnamed source that a Russian secret service agent equipped with ricin poison had allegedly arrived in the Czech Republic three weeks ago using a diplomatic passport. The weekly said that the man was perceived as a security threat to Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hrib and the mayor of Prague 6 Ondřej Kolář.

The Russian Embassy in Prague has accused Respekt of spreading fake news and has protested to the Czech Foreign Ministry against what it described as unfounded attacks against Russia.

According to the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Czech-Russian relations are going through a difficult period due to Moscow's growing assertiveness both in relation to the Czech Republic and the international community in general.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival cancelled due to pandemic

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival will not take place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The festival’s president Jiří Bartoška made the announcement on Tuesday morning.

He said that initial considerations to postpone the festival had been abandoned due to the volatile situation not just in the Czech Republic but around the world.

Bartoška said the 55th edition of the festival would take place at the beginning of July next year. The festival had been scheduled to take place from July 3 to July 11.

Constitutional Court rejects complaints against government imposed restrictions

The Constitutional Court has rejected a complaint against the government imposed restrictions on free movement due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The court likewise rejected a complaint against the regulation banning sessions of local assemblies within a broader ban on public gatherings.

Eight other complaints against the restrictions, including one against the closure of schools remain to be dealt with.

Government approves draft agreements on new unit at Dukovany power plant

The cabinet has approved the draft of two agreements between the government and the ČEZ energy group on the construction of a fifth unit at the Dukovany power plant.

Under the current schedule, the reactor vendor is to be selected by the end of 2022 and a construction licence issued by 2029, with commissioning expected in 2036.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček the government wants to be make a final decision on the financing of the new unit by the end of May. A third agreement currently being prepared will define the conditions under which the state will buy electricity from ČEZ.

The government's energy policy, approved by the cabinet in June 2015, envisages the expansion of both the Dukovany and Temelin power plants.

Number of Czechs abroad and foreigners in Czech Republic drops steeply

The number of Czechs abroad has dropped by almost fifty percent since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic,from an average 550,000 to the current 292,000, the ctk news agency reports.

The statistics are based on the number of active SIM cards of domestic mobile operators abroad.

Most of the Czechs abroad are located in Slovakia, Poland and Germany and are likely to have long-term residence there.

The number of foreigners in the Czech Republic has dropped by almost 60 percent, from around 800,000 in February to 330,000 in April.

Those who remain are mainly citizens from neighboring countries who have resided in the Czech Republic for years.

Weather forecast

Wednesday should be partly cloudy to overcast with rain and day temperatures between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius.