Daily news summary


Events mark 50th anniversary of Jan Palach’s self-immolation

Events are being held in the Czech Republic to mark the 50th anniversary of the self-immolation of Jan Palach. The 20-year-old student set himself alight in central Prague on 16 January 1969 in protest at apathy in the face of the Soviet occupation and died three days later.

An exhibition is being opened on Wenceslas Square near the spot where Palach immolated himself, while a gathering and candle-lit procession will also take place there. Events are also being held at Charles University and the Prague University of Economics, both of which he attended.

Memorials are set to take place in Palach’s Central Bohemian hometown of Všetaty and the nearby Mělník, where he attended secondary school. Other events are also planned around the country.

PM Babiš in Asia: Thais to buy Czech L-39NG military training aircraft

PM Andrej Babiš (ANO), in the midst of a trip to Asia to promote greater economic cooperation, began a two-day visit to Thailand on Wednesday with talks with the country’s foreign minister, Pravit Vongsuvan.

He said Thailand will buy 12 Czech military training aircraft of the L-39NG make and the Czech arms industry is looking to make other deals.

Accompanying Mr. Babiš on his Asian trip, which began in Singapore and ends in India, is a delegation of nearly 40 Czech entrepreneurs and Minister of Economic Affairs Marta Nováková (independent).

Czech Credit Bureau: 2018 saw record number of businesses close – and open

Some 18,306 companies were registered in the Czech Republic last year, the second-highest number in history. At the same time, 13,328 companies ceased to exist, the greatest number on record.

According to the Czech Credit Bureau (CRIF), at the end of 2018 there were 31,634 companies in total still registered as operational.

CRIF analyst Věra Kameníčková said the number of newly established firms stayed close to historical highs for most of 2018, in line with continued economic growth and prevailing optimism among businesses and consumers.

In annual terms, there were 929 fewer new companies registered than in 2017 while 1,135 more disappeared in 2018 than in the previous year. The net increase thus decreased by 2,064 year-on-year and was the lowest in the last five years.

National Film Museum “NaFilM” opens to the public

The National Film Museum “NaFilM”, a student project five years in the making, has opened to the public.

Building on their pop-up exhibitions and temporary installations, NaFilM found a permanent home in central Prague this past summer, at the home of the Supraphon music studio.

NaFilM cofounder Terezie Křížkovská told Radio Prague in an earlier interview their dream had been to establish an innovative, hands-on, interactive museum showcasing Czech film history.

Coal miners at ČEZ-owned Severočeské doly on “strike alert”

Trade unionists at Severočeské Doly, a brown coal mining company owned by state-controlled utility ČEZ, say workers have gone on strike alert over a pay rise dispute.

A seventh round of collective bargaining held early this week failed to bring an agreement.

The unions are seeking an average pay rise of 2,000 crowns for miners and other workers at Severočeské Doly.

Prague-listed ČEZ has declined to comment on the ongoing negotiations, which began in October.

Prague to take over celebrated artist Hana Wichterlová’s garden atelier

Ownership of painter and sculptor Hana Wichterlová’s garden atelier, declared a cultural monument last year, will be transferred from Prague 1 to the municipality at no cost.

The district’s mayor, Pavel Čižinský (Praha Sobě) told the Czech news agency ČTK that the municipality wants to install a permanent exhibition in the late artist’s studio in Malá Strana, where she lived and worked for more than 50 years.

The garden atelier still houses many of Wichterlová’s artistic works. It was declared a cultural monument in part because so many celebrated persons had visited there. She died in 1990 at the age of 87.

Average mortgage rate in December rose to 2.91 pct

The average mortgage rate rose to 2.91 percent in December from 2.78 percent the previous month. According to Fincentrum Hypoindex data, mortgages have risen at the fastest rate in 10 years.

The size of an average mortgage loan grew steadily throughout 2018 to stand at nearly 2.3 million crowns in December.

The number of applicants had surged in September as people sought to get mortgages before tougher lending guidelines set by the Czech National Bank came into effect on October 1.

Under the guidelines, a borrower should not be eligible for a loan which is greater than nine times their annual net income, or need to spend over 45 percent of their monthly net income to service the debt.

Berdych into third round of Australian Open

Tomáš Berdych has reached the third round of tennis’s Australian Open. The Czech dispatched Robin Haas of the Netherlands 6-1 6-3 6-3 in an hour and 19 minutes on Wednesday, continuing an impressive run of form since a recent return after a six-month injury layoff.

Berdych’s compatriot Markéta Vondroušová has exited the competition after losing 4-6 5-7 to Petra Martic of Croatia in the second round.

Weather outlook

Thursday should be partly cloudy with rain likely in northwestern Bohemia during the day and in Moravia and Silesia in the late evening. Daytime highs should range between 4 to 8 degrees Celsius.