Daily news summary


Czechs head to ballot boxes in European Parliament elections

Czechs begin going to the polls on Friday in elections to decide who will represent them in the European Parliament for the next five years. More than 14,000 ballot boxes across the Czech Republic open at 2 pm on Friday and close at 10 pm, before opening again from 8am to 2pm on Saturday.

Czechs and other EU citizens who are voting in the Czech Republic can choose from no less than 841 candidates from 40 parties vying for 21 seats in the European Parliament. The Czech Republic is the only country where voting is possible over two days. Turnout out at the last such elections five years ago was just over 18 percent.

PSSI: No spike in disinformation on manipulative Czech sites before EU elections

The amount of disinformation on Czech websites related to the EU did not sharply increase in the lead-up to European Parliament elections, according to a local think tank.

The Prague Security Studies Institute (PSSI) monitored 31 websites notorious for spreading disinformation between April 15 and May 19.

Of the 783 texts that mentioned the EU – “a favourite target of Czech conspiracy theorists” – the sites largely focused on the “dual quality” food issue, migration, populist movements and challenging the real economic benefits of EU membership for the Czech Republic.

While there was “a minimum disinformation”, the think tank said its survey showed symbiosis between disinformation websites and certain parties.

Aung San Suu Kyi to visit Czech Republic in June

Burma’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is set to visit the Czech Republic in early June.

During her four-day stay, she is due to meet Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO), who extended the invitation, as well as President Miloš Zeman, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček and representatives of Parliament.

Ms Suu Kyi was revered as a principled human rights and pro-democracy activist. Václav Havel championed her as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. She visited Prague in 2013 for the Forum 2000 Conference, which is tied to Havel’s legacy.

She has since come under harsh criticism for refusing to condemn an army crackdown that led to the exodus of Rohingya Muslims into neighbouring Bangladesh and atrocities against them.

Czechs record most tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) cases in entire EU

The Czech Republic recorded the highest number of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) cases in the EU last year. In the whole of Europe, only Russia recorded more cases of the potentially deadly disease.

There were 712 recorded TBE cases in the country last year, the highest number since 2011, a Czech member of the International Scientific Working Group on TBE (ISW-TBE) said in a press release on Thursday.

Only about one quarter of inhabitants of the Czech Republic are vaccinated against TBE, a low percentage compared to other EU countries. Within the bloc, the second-highest number of TBE cases was recorded in Germany, which has a population eight times larger.

Encephalitis patients suffer from fever, headache, aching joints and muscles. It can develop into meningitis.

59th edition of Zlín film festival for youth gets underway

The Zlín International Film Festival for Children and Youth kicks off on Friday. It is both the oldest and largest film festival of its kind in the world.

This year’s 59th edition will feature 280 films from 51 countries, incuding showings and events outside of the southern Moravian town.

The main visual theme this year celebrates the spirit of travel. In part, the 100th birthday of Zlín resident and world traveller Miroslav Zikmund inspired the choice.

Czech underground poet, busker, publisher Jaroslav Erik Frič dies

Jaroslav Erik Frič, a Czech poet, musician, publisher and organiser of underground culture festivals during communism, died on Friday at the age of 70.

A polyglot, he travelled extensively throughout Western Europe in 1968, before the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, working as a busker.

Unwilling to collaborate with the regime in any way, he worked published samizdat poems and other texts while working as a waiter.

Soon after the Velvet Revolution of 1989, he founded the Votobia publishing house. In later years, he founded NGOs to help racial, ethnic and religious minorities.

Since 2000, he had also organised an annual poetry festival in Brno.

Czechs into Ice Hockey World Championships semis after beating Germany 5:1

The Czech ice hockey team beat Germany 5:1 in the quarterfinal of the Ice Hockey World Championships in Bratislava on Thursday evening. Despite the final score, the game was close until the third period when a goal from attacker Jakub Voráček broke the deadlock.

The Czech team is now set to face Canada in the semi-finals on Saturday. The winner will play against either Russia or Finland who are the other semi-finalists.

Czechs to host Ice Hockey World Championship in 2024

The Czech Republic will host the Ice Hockey World Championship in 2024, the sport’s international confederation confirmed on Friday. Matches will likely be held in Prague and Ostrava.

Meanwhile, the Czech national team has made it to the quarterfinals of the current championship, being held in the Slovak capital Bratislava, following a 5:1 victory over Germany on Thursday.

They next face Canada on Saturday. The winner of that match will play either Russia or Finland.

Confidence in Czech economy drops in May to lowest level in three years

Confidence in the Czech economy fell to its lowest level in almost three years this May, the national statistical office said on Friday.

Compared to April, confidence dropped by 1.4 points to 95.7. The last time confidence was lower was in July 2016. Year-on-year, confidence in the economy has decreased between entrepreneurs and consumers alike.

Analysts says the drop mainly stems from concerns about external developments, especially the resumption of trade wars between the US and China.

Czech central bank raises countercyclical capital buffer rate to 2 pct

The countercyclical capital buffer rate for exposures located in the Czech Republic will increase to 2 percent as of July 1, 2020, the Czech National Bank (ČNB) announced.

The rise was motivated by an increase in risks linked with the growth phase of the financial cycle of the Czech economy and partial strengthening of signals of vulnerability of the domestic banking sector, the central bank said.

The ČNB sets the rate on a quarterly basis, always with effect from the following year. In the event of a sudden turn in the financial cycle, the bank is ready to lower the rate or even enable a full dissolution of the buffer, central bank governor Jiří Rusnok said.

Weather outlook

Saturday should be cloudy but relatively warm. Thunderstorms are likely in northern Bohemia, with light rain also expected in patches throughout the country. Average daytime temperatures should range between 19 to 23 degrees. The outlook for Sunday is sunnier.