Daily news summary


Prague Castle mass held for iconic singer Karel Gott

The funeral of singer Karel Gott took place this Saturday at St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle, a day after tens of thousands paid their last respects to him. Cardinal Dominik Duka officiated over the mass.

Gott, who died aged 80 on October 1, was given a funeral with state honours. Apart from his family and friends, also present were President Miloš Zeman, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO), Senate chairman Jaroslav Kubera (ODS).

Gott sold tens of millions of albums in a career spanning six decades and was voted the nation’s most popular singer 42 times in an annual contest. Celebrities on hand included pop singers Michal David and Helena Vondráčková.

In all, there were more than two hundred invited guests. The general public was able to follow the private ceremony inside on large screens installed around the St. Vitus Cathedral. Thousands did so.

After the funeral mass, Prague Castle guards carried a coffin with Gott’s remains to the sound of the country’s largest bell, which is rung only on special occasions. His body is to be cremated in a private ceremony.

Beijing complains of Czech senate leader’s relations with Taiwan

The Chinese Embassy in Prague has objected to Senate leader Jaroslav Kubera (Civic Democrats) speaking at a Taiwanese celebration on Wednesday, where he highlighted economic cooperation and was photographed with Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office representatives.

Czech investigative daily Deník N reports that President Miloš Zeman has warned Kubera, who plans to visit Taiwan next year, that his actions may aggravate relations with China.

Kubera is quoted as saying his trip is not anti-China but rather pro-business, noting that Taiwan is the Czech Republic’s third largest Asian trading partner.

In April, then Trade and Industry Minister Marta Nováková (for ANO) was recalled over a diplomatic incident that highlighted China’s efforts to assert its influence: a Taiwan representative was forced to leave a ministry event at the request of the Chinese ambassador.

TOP 09 leader Jiří Pospíšil elected Prague chairman

MEP Jiří Pospíšil, current chairman of the centre-right TOP 09 party, was elected head of its Prague branch on Saturday, winning 73 votes out of 99 delegates.

Pospíšil, 43, said he will step down as party chairman in November in order to concentrate on coordinating TOP O9’s work at Prague City Hall, as well as European politics.

Expected to run for the TOP 09 leadership are current first vice-chair Markéta Pekarová Adamová and Senator Tomáš Czernin.

Pospíšil twice served as Minister of Justice when a member of the Civic Democrats: between 2006 and 2009, under Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, and from 2010 to 2012, under Prime Minister Petr Nečas.

He won a seat in the European Parliament as a member of TOP 09.

MPs to discuss state budget, taxes, parental allowance starting Tuesday

The lower house of Parliament is expected to approve a government tax package at its session starting on Tuesday. It includes a proposal to raise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, and an increase in parental allowance.

The basic parental allowance could rise from 80,000 crowns to 300,000 crowns. MPs are also due to start discuss the draft state budget for 2020, which counts on a 40 billion crown deficit.

In the initial round, MPs will approve the budget’s basic parameters, i.e. revenue, expenditure and deficit. MPs have tabled dozens of amendments to the tax package, only some of which the Committee on Budgets has supported thus far.

On Friday, Prime Minister Andrei Babiš (ANO) and Communist party leader Vojtěch Filip agreed to allocate an additional 4.9 billion crowns for the health sector. Originally, 334 billion crowns was earmarked for the sector.

1 in 5 seniors infected with pneumococcus succumbed to the disease

One-fifth of seniors who contracted pneumococcus last year succumbed to the disease, according to the National Institute of Public Health data.

Pneumococcus can lead to severe pneumonia and dangerous inflammations, including meningitis. Of 481 people who contracted it last year, 256 were over 65 in age. In total, 84 people died, including one child.

Czech Genealogical Society Int'l Conference starts Tuesday in Nebraska

The 17th Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International (CGSI) Conference will take place from October 15-19 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The focus of the biennial conference is to learn techniques for genealogical research in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and to explore the region’s history and culture.

Mila Šašková-Pierce, professor emerita at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will present the keynote address "Czech Immigration and Language Influence in Lincoln."

Euro 2020: Czech Republic beat England 2:1 in qualifier at home

The Czech football team on Friday evening handed England their first major tournament qualifier defeat since 2009, by a score of 2:1 in the 2020 European Championship contest.

Captain Harry Kane gave England the lead in the fifth minute from the penalty spot, but Jakub Brabec leveled for the Czechs four minutes later.

The Czech substitute Zdeněk Ondrášek was the match-winner, with his first international goal, running on to Lukas Lukáš Masopust’s pass with five minutes left in the second half.

England had not lost a first qualification match since their loss to Ukraine in October 2009. The result puts the Czech Republic level on 12 points with Group A leaders England, albeit having played a game more.

More than 3,000 England fans had been expected to travel to Prague for the game at Slavia Prague stadium. Police detained dozens of soccer fans before the qualifier, and skirmishes broke out in at least two bars, police said.

Weather outlook

Sunday should be clear to partly cloudy, with daytime highs of 20 to 24 degrees Celsius.