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Eastern Europe Update

The latest news for your community

Hear news for the Eastern Eurpoean Community at 9am, 1pm and 5pm every weekday on Revolution Radio

10/6/2024

In today’s news from Central Europe, we start in Poland, where tensions are high as the nation prepares for the upcoming EU elections. Prime Minister Donald Tusk has issued a stark warning to voters, urging them to vote to protect against Russian aggression.

In Hungary, the government has ratified Sweden’s NATO bid, ending more than 18 months of delays. This move is seen as a significant step in strengthening the military alliance amid ongoing European security concerns.

Moving to Romania, a tragic incident occurred at a chain DIY store, where an explosion injured at least 13 people, one seriously. The event has sparked a nationwide conversation on safety regulations and emergency response preparedness.

Lastly, in Czechia, citizens are facing a sharp increase in beer prices, with costs surging by nearly 50% over the past five years. This hike is attributed to a combination of factors, including higher VAT rates and operational costs in the hospitality industry.

 

3/6/2024

Polish President Andrzej Duda has vetoed a law that would have made Silesian – which is spoken in the historical area of Silesia in southwest Poland – a recognised regional language.

In his justification, Duda argued that Silesian is a dialect of Polish, rather than a language in itself, and also cited national security concerns. The president’s decision, which had been widely expected, was criticised by figures from the ruling coalition, whose parliamentary majority had approved the law in April.

Prague City Hall's paternoster elevator has reopened as a tourist attraction. The popular attraction, which was closed down last year due to safety concerns, can now be ridden by the public as part of a guided tour.

Czech Choreographer Yemi A.D.’s dream of becoming just the second Czech in space has been grounded as Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has scrapped the dearMoon project after years of planning. Maezawa's company confirmed the decision to cancel the mission in an official statement

 

27/5/2024

In Poland, the government is investing about $2.5 billion to step up security and deterrence on its border with Russia and its ally Belarus. Meanwhile, a controversial judge who fled to autocratic Belarus has been put on a wanted list.

Over in Czechia, a crowdfunding campaign to buy artillery shells for Ukraine quickly exceeds its target of €1m. In other news, the country is also battling a surge of whooping cough, with Prague’s elderly mayor coughing and spluttering during a public meeting.

In Romania, the country is opening up to Chinese tech despite protests. There’s also a national concern as tonnes of seized illegal meat pose a health risk.

Hungary is making headlines as it opens up to Chinese tech despite protests. The country is also in the midst of political turmoil with the resignations of two of the most successful women in the ruling Fidesz party.

Across Eastern Europe, EU leaders and their counterparts in the Western Balkans are working to strengthen their partnership during a summit in Albania as Russia’s war in Ukraine threatens to reshape the geopolitical balance in the region.

 

20/5/2024

NATO Boosts Forces in Eastern Europe:

  • NATO leaders have approved major increases in forces in the region. Four new battlegroups will be sent to Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania. US President Joe Biden is attending the NATO summit in Brussels.
  • The UK has announced it will provide Ukraine with about 6,000 extra missiles and additional funding to support Ukrainian soldiers and pilots.

Ukrainian Flag Raised in Makariv:

  • Reports indicate that the Ukrainian flag has been raised again in the suburb of Makariv, west of Kyiv.
  • However, Russian bombardment of the southern port city of Mariupol continues unabated, with approximately 100,000 people trapped there.

Serbia’s Populist Election Tensions:

  • In Serbia, populists seek to tighten their grip on power in a tense election. Election monitors report pressure on voters and abuse of public office.

 

13/5/2024

Czechia’s Renewable Energy Milestone

  • Prague, Czechia, has achieved a significant milestone in its commitment to renewable energy. The city recently inaugurated the largest solar power plant in Central Europe. Spread across 100 hectares, the solar farm is expected to generate clean electricity for over 30,000 households. With this development, Czechia continues to lead the way in sustainable energy solutions, reducing its dependence on fossil fuels.

Poland’s Cultural Heritage Preservation

  • In a joint effort by the Polish government and UNESCO, the historic city of Kraków has been designated as a World Heritage Site. Known for its stunning architecture, vibrant culture, and rich history, Kraków attracts millions of tourists each year. The preservation of its unique heritage is crucial, and this recognition underscores Poland’s commitment to safeguarding its cultural treasures.

Hydrogen Bus Roadshow in Romania

  • Romania is leading the way in sustainable transportation. As part of the JIVE projects supported and funded by the Clean Hydrogen Partnership, the country hosted the third hydrogen bus roadshow this spring. Hydrogen-powered buses are gaining traction as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional diesel buses. Romania’s commitment to clean energy solutions is commendable, and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe are taking note.

7/5/2024

Eastern Europe’s Recovery Remains on Track

Despite global challenges, Eastern Europe’s economic recovery remains resilient. Supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic and geopolitical tensions have been overcome by diversifying suppliers and exploring local alternatives. Germany’s role as the EU’s economic powerhouse significantly impacts the region. While Germany’s growth has been sluggish, its steady progress contributes positively to Eastern Europe. Strengthened trade partnerships with neighboring nations and investments in infrastructure, technology, and renewable energy bolster economic ties. However, inflationary pressures, energy costs, and political uncertainties remain challenges to monitor.

Romania Hosts 3rd Jive Hydrogen Bus Roadshow

Romania’s commitment to sustainable transportation takes center stage with the JIVE Hydrogen Bus Roadshow. The event showcased hydrogen-powered buses, emphasizing their environmental benefits. These buses emit only water vapor, reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The JIVE project, supported by the Clean Hydrogen Partnership, aims to promote hydrogen fuel cell technology. Romania’s active participation underscores its dedication to green mobility. Investments in hydrogen refueling stations and infrastructure pave the way for other Eastern European countries.

NATO Boosts Forces in Eastern Europe Amid Ukraine Conflict

Tensions in Ukraine have prompted NATO to take decisive action. The deployment of four new battlegroups in Eastern Europe (Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania) aims to enhance regional security. This move serves as a deterrent against potential aggression and reaffirms NATO’s commitment to collective defense. Amid Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the US has accused Russian forces of committing war crimes. The situation remains tense, and NATO’s presence plays a crucial role in maintaining stability.

 

29/4/2024

Poland has launched a special app, called Refugeebook, to support those who have applied for asylum in the country.

The service was created by the Office for Foreigners (UDSC), the government body responsible for matters relating to foreigners’ entry to, transit through, and stays in Poland.

Available in Polish, English, Russian and Ukrainian, it provides those who have applied for international protection with information on their rights and obligations, documents required to be granted protection, and sources of social and medical aid.

The app also provides educational content, such as information on Polish history and culture, as well as details of NGOs that provide help to foreigners in Poland.

Prague's Anděl metro station was rebranded from its original name of Moskva (Moscow) shortly after the Velvet Revolution, but a sculpture bearing the original name has stood at the location since the 1980s.

Now, a new petition spearheaded by a 16-year-old student seeks to change that.

Jan Boháč, the petition's author, deems it inappropriate that the Prague station still features the Moskva sculpture and an inscription denoting Soviet-Czech friendship amidst the Russian war in Ukraine. 

Prague's metro turns 50 years old this year, and public transport authority DPP is deploying the original launch train from 1974 on Line C to celebrate on May 8.

Passengers will be able experience the charm of yesteryear as they embark on a journey aboard these iconic metro sets.

 

22/4/2024

Poland has received almost 27 billion zloty (€6.3 billion) of EU funds as Brussels begins to pay out money that was frozen under the previous Law and Justice (PiS) government due to rule-of-law concerns.

The transfer is the largest Poland has ever received in its 20 years of EU membership, says the government’s minister for funds and regional policy, Katarzyna Pełczyńska.

In a bid to attract skilled talent and streamline the hiring process, the Czech Republic is poised to implement a significant policy change that will be good news for citizens of seven countries seeking work in the country.

According to a draft government regulation prepared by the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, foreigners from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea could soon have free access to the Czech labor market, without the need for a work visa.

Czech hockey legend Jaromír Jágr continues to make history on the ice well into his 50s.

Playing in his first game since since turning 52 in February, the ageless wonder etched his name in the record books on Thursday by becoming the oldest goal scorer in a professional ice hockey history.

 

15/4/2024

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has is in the USA this week for a crucial meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House.

The talks will focus on security cooperation, the Middle East, and ongoing support for Ukraine.

The visit marks the 25th anniversary of the Czech Republic's admission into NATO, and will be highlighted discussions on enhancing Czech-American partnerships.

A court has confirmed that Poland's state broadcaster TVP is in a state of liquidation.

The decision was welcomed by the Polish culture minister as part of the new government’s efforts to take back control of public media from the former ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.

And Poland's Conservative opposition leader Jarosław Kaczyński has indicated he would be willing to support softening the country's near-total abortion ban, which was introduced under the rule of his own Law and Justice (PiS) party.

But he warned that it could only happen by changing the constitution.

 

8/4/2024

Populist Peter Pellegrini has been elected president of Slovakia, succeeding the liberal Zuzana Caputova.

Mr Pellegrini, 48, defeated the pro-Western Ivan Korčok, a former diplomat, with 53% of the vote.

A former prime minister, he is an ally of Prime Minister Robert Fico, and shares the PM's dovish attitude towards Russia.

Mr Fico and his allies now control Slovakia's parliament, government, and soon the president's office.

US jeans maker Levis Strauss & Co. has announced that it will close a clothing factory in the central Polish city of Plock that has operated since the early 1990s, laying off 650 people.

The company cited problems in hiring qualified staff and rising production costs – driven by high inflation, soaring energy prices, and the weakening of the zloty against the dollar – as reasons for the factory’s planned closure at the end of November this year. Production at the facility is due to stop in mid-June.

The proportion of Poles who say they have read at least one book in the last year rose to 43% in 2023, up by nine percentage ponts on 2022 and the highest figure since 2010 in a regular survey carried out by Poland’s National Library.

 

2/4/2024

In an unprecedented move, Poland’s ruling coalition has submitted a motion to put central bank governor Adam Glapiński – who was appointed under the former Law and Justice (PiS) government – on trial.

They accuse Glapiński – a longstanding associate of PiS chairman Jarosław Kaczyński – of breaking several laws and of violating his constitutional obligation to uphold the political independence of the National Bank of Poland (NBP).

If the motion passes, Glapiński’s will be the first person brought before the State Tribunal, a body empowered to punish the highest officials of state, since 2005. However, he has dismissed the accusations against him as “idiotic”.

The Czech minimum wage is set to break the CZK 20,000 barrier for the first time.

Under newly confirmed plans, the government has announced that the minimum wage will be gradually increased and linked it to average incomes to reaches 47 percent of the average wage by 2029.

However, the proposal also includes abolishing guaranteed wages, causing disagreement from the opposition and trade unions.

Prague's famous Astronomical Clock is being stopped to mark Czechia's Don't Rush Day

Prague's iconic landmark is being momentarily halted this Wednesday to raise awareness for the dangers of rushing, especially on Czech roads.

22/3/2024

A group of disabled people and their carers have protested outside the Polish parliament, demanding that the government fulfil its pre-election promise to increase their welfare allowance to the level of the minimum wage.

Currently it stands at less than half that figure.

Meanwhile, Poland’s government has approved a bill granting additional payments to social care workers, who often earn minimum wage.

If approved by parliament and the president, the legislation will allow almost 200,000 people employed in the sector to receive an additional 1,000 zloty (€230) gross each per month starting from July. For those on the minimum wage, that would boost their earnings by almost 25%.

The newly published World Happiness Report (WHR) 2024 has found that Czechia is the 18th-happiest country globally out of 143 surveyed countries ahead of the UK in 20th place and USA in 23rd. 

The study asked respondents to rank their satisfaction and quality of life out of 10. 

Poland (35th), Slovakia (45th), and Hungary (56th) all performed worse.

The happiest country was Finland.

15/3/2024

Former Czech President Milos Zeman, 69, was hospitalized at Prague’s Motol University Hospital Thursday due to a blood clot in his leg undergoing surgery.

Spokeswoman Pavlina Dankova confirmed the complication, stating Zeman’s diabetes also played a role. Doctors are to provide updates on Friday. 

The UK has announced that it is extending the deployment of its Sky Sabre air defence system in Poland until the end of this year, along with a continent of 100 British troops.

Sky Sabre, which is the UK’s most advanced system of its kind, was first deployed to Poland in April 2022, shortly after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Its deployment was due to finish at the end of this month, but it will now instead remain until at least December.

People caught drink driving in Poland can now have their cars confiscated by the state under a new law that came into force yesterday.

However, some experts have questioned the constitutionality of the law.

 

12/3/2024

Czechia is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the country joining NATO

The event is being celebrated with six aircraft flying over Prague to coincide with former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s visit to Prague, where he is attending a security conference.

Poland's youngest MP has been suspended from his party while it investigates reports of a recording that reportedly shows him encouraging an election candidate to make a large payment to the private firm of a close associate.

Adam Gomoła, who was elected last year at the age of 24, belongs to the Poland 2050 (Polska 2050) party which is part of Poland’s ruling coalition.

The party's leader, Szymon Hołownia, the speaker of parliament said that if the claims against Gomoła are proven, he would seek to permanently exclude him from the party.

A contract has been signed to build what will be Poland’s longest tunnel, stretching almost 3.8 km (2.4 miles) through part of the Western Beskids mountains in the south of the country.

Once complete, the tunnel and related rail modernisation will cut the train journey time between Kraków, Poland’s second-largest city, and Nowy Sącz, a major regional city of 83,000 people, by around two thirds.

4/3/2024

Poland was one of only two European Union countries to record a positive consumer confidence index in February. It has also seen the bloc’s largest rise in confidence over the last year.

Poland’s figure stood at 1.2 in Poland in February, behind only Lithuania (2.8), new data from Eurostat shows.

Meanwhile, statistics reveal that the average Czech consumes slightly more than 11 liters of pure alcohol per year, making it one of the highest rates in the EU and globally.

This trend is particularly alarming for including children as young as 11.

According to the latest figures from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Czechia has the third-highest alcohol consumption overall in the EU, trailing only Lithuania and Latvia.

Bar Lussi, a famous fast food stand located in front of Warsaw’s iconic Palace of Culture and Science is set to disappear after over three decades.

The owner, who has been operating the premises without permission in recent years, has now given up his fight to keep it open.

However, some local residents have launched a campaign in support of the business, and will this weekend hold a rave at the site.

It opened in 1991, amid Poland’s transition to a market economy following decades of communist rule.

27/2/2024

The Czech Republic's Central Bohemian Region is embarking on an innovative approach to public transportation this summer with the introduction of on-demand minibuses integrated with elements of artificial intelligence.

The new initiative, which will be operated by Prague Integrated Transport, aims to enhance public transit offerings, particularly during off-peak hours, in areas where traditional fixed-route bus services may not be as effective.

An unusual intervention took place in the Polish town of Wejherowo, where the police were called out in response to a man leading a horse up the staircase of an apartment block.

The suspect has been arrested and could now face up to five years in prison for stealing the animal.

The horse thief was stopped by a bystander who noticed the unusual situation. A spokesperson for the local police told Notes from Poland that the bystander then notified the authorities and kept hold of the horse until their arrival, preventing the thief from taking the animal to higher floors of the building. The thief meanwhile fled the scene.

The Czech language is among the world's most difficult languages for English-speakers according to a new ranking system.

It's based on the latest data from the Foreign Services Institute and language-learning platforms around the world.

Ranked with an average difficulty of 7.3, Czech secured its place as the 8th most challenging language for English speakers to learn, 

Among the Slavic languages, Czech was preceded on the list by Bulgarian (13), Polish (17), and Russian (19).

Among the top 5 most challenging languages for English speakers to master were Finnish (5), Korean (4), Japanese (3), Mandarin Chinese (2), and Arabic (1).

21/2/2024

Hundreds of farmers with tractors have been protesting in Prague city centre in a demonstration against the Czech government’s and EU's farming policies. 

Between 600 and 1,000 tractors assembled outside the Ministry of Agriculture in Prague 1 around 5:30 a.m., blocking traffic on the main Wilsonova Street before continuing through the city disrupting the areas ourside the main train station and National Museum.

A second Primark store is coming to Prague.  The well-known, budget Irish retail chain will open its third branch in the country as it continues its drive to be more sustainable.

The 2,800 square metre new store is set to create 140 jobs. 

Poland’s education ministry has published a draft of new curriculums for school pupils that would cut the amount of material taught in almost all subjects by around 20%.

The ministry hopes this reduction, combined with maintaining the same number of teaching hours, “will enable teachers and students to cover the material more calmly and in-depth, resulting in a more effective education”. It also wants more emphasis on analysis and research with less on memorisation

The opposition, however, has strongly objected to cuts in the history programme that it says would result in important events – such as the Volhynia massacres and Baptism of Poland – being omitted.


 

15/2/2024

Polish farmers have today launched a series of protests against EU climate policies and agricultural imports from Ukraine. The general strike, which is due to last 30 days, will see the farmers block roads around Poland as well as border crossings with Ukraine.

Over 250 protest actions have been announced around the country, starting from 10 a.m. local time this morning, by the farmers, who say that their “patience has run out”.

The long-awaited modernization of Prague’s Smíchov railway station has begun this week. The 3-year long project aims to bring a more passenger-friendly and accessible layout to the area.

The overhaul will repair tracks, platforms, and subways and add elevators for accessibility.

The station will remain operational while construction takes place. Passengers will only be restricted from using certain parts of the platforms to board trains, with temporary platforms created. 

A flash mob devoted to raising awareness of violence against women took place in Prague on Valentines Day.

The annual flash mob in the Czech Republic takes on greater significance this year following the Senate's rejection of the Istanbul Convention last month. Only 34 of 71 senators supported ratifying the Europe-wide pact to prevent domestic violence.

 

12/2/2024

Polish farmers have launched a series of protests against EU climate policies and agricultural imports from Ukraine.

The general strike, which is due to last 30 days, will see the farmers block roads around Poland as well as border crossings with Ukraine.

Over 250 protest actions took place around the country by the farmers, who said that their patience had "run out”.

Prague 10 has rebranded to 'X' as the district unveils a new visual identity

It's centered around the Roman numeral X, signaling a modern and unified approach to communication.

The district recently concluded a design competition, and selected a proposal by design studio MadLove featuring the prominent use of the Roman numeral X as its main visual element. This bold choice signifies a departure from Prague 10's previous use of the district's official seal for communication.

Meanwhile Prague Zoo has unveiled the name of a newborn endangered gorilla after a mass poll.

After narrowing down 60 suggestions from Cameroonian children, the Czech public chose its three favorite names for the female gorilla born on January 2

She's been named Mobi. In the Badjoué dialect spoken around Cameroon's Dja Biosphere Reserve, it means "heiress" or "continuator". 

 

6/2/2024

In Czechia, preparations are underway for the construction of the country's first-ever high-speed rail line, set to link Prague, Ústí nad Labem, and the German city of Dresden. State officials and local residents eagerly await the decision on the project, aimed at bringing faster and more efficient transportation. However, critics have raised concerns about the high cost of the project and potential disruptions to nearby communities.

Meanwhile, the Czech government has unveiled a new bill to ensure gender-balanced corporate boards. With the aim of promoting gender equality in corporate leadership, the draft bill mandates a minimum of one-third women on boards of large businesses. This initiative seeks to address the long-standing gender imbalance in the Czech corporate sector by implementing transparent selection processes and clear criteria for board membership.

In Poland, the Supreme Audit Office (NIK) reveals findings regarding the sale of state assets to Saudi Aramco in 2022 by state energy giant Orlen. NIK reports that the sale, which gave the Saudis partial control over one of Poland’s oil refineries, was conducted below market value and resulted in significant security risks. However, former government officials defend their actions, accusing NIK of producing unreliable findings for political reasons.

 

1/2/2024

The finale of Poland’s biggest annual charity fundraising event has again smashed its record, with over 175 million zloty (€40 million) donated by the end of Sunday,  beating last year’s figure of around 154 million zloty.

The final amount, which is announced in the spring, will be even higher once all collections and auctions have been completed. Last year’s final total was around 243 million zloty.

The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity (WOŚP), which was first held in 1993, sees around 120,000 volunteers in Poland and abroad collecting donations. 

In Northampton, a fundraising event took place at Barratts Snooker Club on Saturday for the charity with live music, dancing, magic and attractions including Vikings and kickboxing.

The iconic Kotva department store in Prague 1 has closed its doors for a three-year reconstruction.

The brutalist communist-era Kotva building will be reconstructed and renovated, opening again to the public in 2027.

Built on Náměstí Republiky in the 1970s, the building will undergo extensive transformation to restore its prestige as a top shopping destination in the center of Prague.

And Covid-19 is no longer in the top 15 causes of death in Czechia.

The Czech Statistical Office (CZSO) has reported a 5-percent decrease in deaths during the first half of 2023. 

 

29/1/2024

Poland has recorded the second-highest annual growth in house prices within the European Union, according to Eurostat.

Data from the third quarter of 2023 reveal a 9.3% increase, with only Croatia surpassing at 10.9%. The introduction of a mortgage subsidy scheme for first-time buyers last summer significantly stimulated demand, making Poland the leader in quarterly price growth among the EU’s 27 member states, plus Norway and Switzerland.

Czech rail carrier Leo Express is unveiling an epic new train route linking Prague to multiple European cities.

The 19-hour rail journey will connect cities such as Brussels, Bruges, Cologne, and Bratislava. With approximately 50 stops at major city break destinations, this ambitious project by Leo Express aims to enhance connectivity across Czechia, Germany, and beyond.

Depeche Mode fans are gearing up to take over Prague's Charles Bridge next month.

A two-day Weekender event is set to celebrate the band's concerts on Feb. 22 and 24. Fans, organized by a dedicated local fan base, plan to stage a photo shoot on Charles Bridge, adding a unique and immersive experience to the upcoming Depeche Mode concerts in Prague. 

 

22/1/2024

The head of a planned new “mega-airport” and transport hub in central Poland – a flagship project of the former Law and Justice (PiS) government – has been fired and the new government has launched an audit of the plans.

No reason for his dismissal has been announced but there had been claims the project costs were too high.

In July last year, a design concept for the project, which will also include road and rail links, was unveiled. In October, an international consortium of investment partners, who will contribute up to 8 billion zloty (€1.84 billion) in exchange for a minority stake, was announced.

The number of foreign employees in Czechia has seen massive growth in 2023

The country's international talent pool has surged past 823,000 according to new figures from the Czech Statistical Office.

That's roughly 2.5 times more than at the end of 2015, with more than a third coming from Ukraine.

And Prague's Charles University's Faculty of Arts building has opened its doors to the public for the first time since the tragic shooting on December 21, 2023 when a student shot and killed 14 people and wounded dozens of others before turning the gun on himself.

Multiple investigations into both the shooter himself and police response to the incident are still ongoing.

17/1/2024

Polish truckers who have been blocking border crossings with Ukraine since early November have agreed to suspend their protest until 1 March after signing an agreement with Poland’s government.

The Czech government has today announced that on Jan. 20 the new eDoklady mobile application that allows for a digital version of ID will become active. Initially accepted by central state bodies and select municipalities, the police will be obliged to recognize it from April, and labor offices or tax authorities from the middle of 2024.

And Czechia is gearing up to get sober with 1 million expected to take the Dry February challenge

The campaign, running in its 12th year, offers various fitness-related benefits for joining its month-long campaign to stop drinking.

 

11/1/2024

In Kraków, Poland, plans for a "clean transport zone" aimed at banning older, more polluting cars have been rejected by a court. The decision, challenged by the governor of Małopolska province, argued that the ban infringed on constitutional rights. Kraków, known for severe air pollution, will now need to explore alternative measures to address environmental concerns.

Meanwhile, in Poland, President Andrzej Duda announces new pardon proceedings for former government ministers Mariusz Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik, recently jailed for abuse of power. This move contradicts previous statements from the president's office, which had indicated no plans for a pardon. The Supreme Court had rejected a previous pardon attempt in 2015 as invalid.

On the cultural front in Czechia, get ready for a year of music extravaganzas. Ed Sheeran is set to headline two open-air concerts on July 27 and 28 near Hradec Králové as part of his global "Mathematics" Tour. Additionally, Depeche Mode and Rammstein will grace Prague's O2 Arena in late February and May, respectively. And brace yourselves, music fans, as U.S. rock legend Bruce Springsteen makes a comeback to the Czech Republic after a 12-year absence.

 

8/1/2024

In Kraków, Poland, a heartwarming response to an animal shelter's plea for temporary homes during a winter freeze. The municipal shelter sought help for over 120 dogs in outdoor enclosures due to limited space. In just two days, an unprecedented number of residents turned up, finding homes for all the animals. Even local police, initially there to issue parking tickets, took in a furry friend, showcasing the community's compassion.

Turning to Czechia, where a severe frost warning has been issued by the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute for Prague. Daytime temperatures are expected to stay below freezing throughout the week, with some areas experiencing minus 20 degrees Celsius this morning. The capital might see temperatures drop to around minus 12 degrees Celsius on Wednesday.

In political news, an MP from Poland's Law and Justice party faces a hefty 78,500 zloty (€18,000) fine for illegally putting up over 1,000 campaign posters during October's parliamentary elections. The penalty was announced by Zielona Góra's mayor, Janusz Kubicki, highlighting the consequences for violating campaign regulations.

 

19/12/2023

In Poland, the new Prime Minister Donald Tusk has won a confidence vote, setting a pro-European Union course for the nation. His leadership marks a significant shift in Poland's international relations, particularly with the EU and Ukraine. In economic news, Poland's core inflation saw a decrease to 7.3% in November, providing some relief amidst global economic challenges.

Turning to Czechia, the city of Brno has been honored as the 'European Capital Of Christmas' for 2024, a testament to its rich cultural heritage and festive spirit. However, the country faces economic hurdles, with an inflation rate reaching 9.5%, one of the highest in the European Union.

In Romania, a boarding school in central Romania tragically collapsed, leading to one death and three injuries. This incident has brought attention to building safety standards in the country. On the international front, Romania is navigating tensions with Russia, following a recent drone crash near its territory, which NATO has addressed as an escalation by Russian forces.

 

7/12/2023

In the Czech Republic, major supermarket chain Billa follows Lidl's lead, banning live carp sales this Christmas, emphasizing a commitment to animal welfare. This decision comes amid growing calls from animal rights activists to end the practice nationwide.

Shifting to education, Czech students achieve above-average scores in PISA testing, despite a decline in math skills since 2018. The impact of socioeconomic backgrounds and the COVID-19 pandemic on student performance is noted.

In health news from Poland, Chief Sanitary Inspector Waldemar Kraska announces 3,414 new Covid cases and ten deaths. A vaccine for the new 'Kraken' strain is available from December 6, offering relief with milder symptoms. The Novavax vaccine, considered highly effective and safe, is accessible free of charge.

 

5/12/2023

In the Czech Republic, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office files charges against an entrepreneur for subsidy fraud and money laundering. Allegedly misusing €1 million in EU funds meant for an IT project, the defendant faces 5 to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

Shifting to Poland, outgoing Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak signs a significant weapon acquisition contract with South Korea's Hanwha Defense. Poland's Army is set to receive 152 self-propelled howitzers, valued at $2.6 billion, with plans for future production in Poland.

Tragically, in northeast Poland, two bison were killed in a collision with an army truck. This incident follows a similar collision last month, highlighting the need for measures to protect these iconic symbols of Polish nature.

 

1/12/2023

In the Czech Republic, a breakthrough as Prime Minister Petr Fiala offers CZK 9.8 billion to striking doctors, aiming to resolve the ongoing healthcare crisis. Approximately 6,100 doctors have resigned from voluntary overtime, impacting hospital operations.

Former Polish president Lech Wałęsa faces trial over alleged false testimony regarding communist-era documents. A symbol of opposition, if found guilty, he could face up to three years in prison.

On a positive note, a Polish couple, Lena Grochowska and Władysław Grochowski, receives the UN Nansen Refugee Award for providing over 500,000 nights of free lodging to more than 14,000 Ukrainian refugees through their hotel chain.

 

28/11/2023

Political Turbulence in Poland: President Andrzej Duda swears in a new government following last month's elections. With Law and Justice (PiS) lacking a majority, a coalition of opposition groups is likely to take charge. PiS's Mateusz Morawiecki appeals for collaboration, but opposition groups reject the proposition, creating an uncertain political landscape.

Legal Battle Over Abortion Assistance: In Poland, gynaecologist Maria Kubisa faces charges for allegedly aiding patients in obtaining abortions, an act criminalized in the country. Kubisa, who denies the accusations, claims authorities seek to intimidate her. The case unfolds against the backdrop of Poland's strict abortion laws.

Snow Blankets Czechia: Eastern Europe experiences its first heavy snowfall this winter, with up to 60 centimeters in the Krkonoše region and Prague seeing its initial snowfall. Freezing temperatures grip the capital, with snow showers expected throughout the week, emphasizing winter's arrival.

 

24/11/2023

Czech Republic's Energy Shift: In a positive environmental stride, Czechs have reduced their energy consumption by 4.8 percent in the first three quarters of 2023. The Energy Regulatory Office notes a decline in household electricity use. Despite being an electricity exporter, production has dropped by 13.3 percent in Q3, with a 39.3 percent YoY decrease in the cross-border balance.

Mountain Warning in Krkonoše: The Krkonoše Mountains' Mountain Service issues a frost and ice warning on tourist routes, urging snowshoes and trekking poles. Strong winds, reaching over 100 km/h on Sněžka peak, close the cable car for maintenance until Dec. 15. Meteorologists predict cloudy conditions with occasional rain or snowfall above 1100 meters.

ECHR Rules on Wałęsa Case: The European Court of Human Rights rules that former Polish President Lech Wałęsa's rights were violated due to the government's judiciary overhaul. The unanimous decision calls for measures to address "systematic violations" caused by these reforms. The case stems from a civil suit filed by Wałęsa over a decade ago regarding accusations of collaboration with communist security services.

 

 

 

22/11/2023

Tensions rise between Poland's President Duda and potential Prime Minister Donald Tusk, hinting at a challenging cohabitation. Duda asserts Tusk is not his choice for premier, setting the stage for political discord.

Kraków's museums receive a historic private art donation valued at €11.5 million. Collectors Andrzej and Teresa Starmach contribute works by notable Polish artists, enriching the MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Photography.

Alarming data reveals a surge in violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the Czech Republic. Cases hit a record 90 in 2022, doubling from the previous year, with 60 incidents documented in 2023, highlighting the need for strengthened legal protections.
 

 

 

 

16/11/2023

Prague police seek a person of interest regarding abusive threat letters sent to politicians, including President Petr Pavel. Anonymous threats could lead to up to three years in prison.

In economic news, the European Commission revises the Czech economy outlook, anticipating a 0.4% decline this year but predicts a 1.4% growth in 2024.
 

In Poland, the Supreme Administrative Court seeks a ruling from the Court of Justice of the EU on recognizing same-sex marriages conducted in other member states.

 

 

15/11/2023

In the Olomouc Region, thirteen individuals, including politicians and businessmen, face charges related to possible illegal influencing of public contracts for transport constructions. Crimes include obtaining an advantage, bribery, and fraud. Authorities conducted raids, and the regional leadership initiated an external forensic audit.

Shifting to the Czech Republic, over 1,500 applications for compensation for unlawful sterilization have been received by the Health Ministry. The process, criticized for its lengthiness, covers cases from 1966 to 2012.
 

Meanwhile, in Poland, The Left coalition introduces bills on the first day of parliament to liberalize strict abortion laws, facing potential challenges from more conservative elements in the new government.

 

10/11/2023

Czech President Petr Pavel expressed concern about the global instability impacting the majority of the world, citing frozen conflicts in the Caucasus and military coups in African nations, during the Diplomacy and Security conference in Prague.

Shifting focus to education, a study by the National Institute SYRI reveals that one-fifth of Czech teachers face physical exhaustion, with 6 percent meeting burnout criteria. Stressors include student behavior, workload, and administrative burdens.

In political developments, the European Parliament voted to strip the immunity of four MEPs from Poland's ruling party, allowing them to face hate-crime charges in their homeland, related to a 2018 campaign advert.

 

8/11/2023

In the Czech Republic, the Ministry of the Environment plans to introduce a deposit system for PET bottles and cans by mid-2025, aiming to establish around 11,000 collection points at various locations, enhancing resource utilization without affecting municipal budgets.

Furthermore, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has launched a subscription service in the Czech Republic and across the EU, allowing users to remove ads and data collection for personalized advertising for a monthly fee.

In Poland, President Andrzej Duda nominated Mateusz Morawiecki, the current Prime Minister from the Law and Justice party, to form a new government following recent parliamentary elections that resulted in a bloc of centrist and left-wing opposition parties winning a majority of seats in parliament.

 

7/11/2023

In Czechia, the organization In Iustitia addressed concerns to Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Justice Minister Pavel Blažek, highlighting insufficient legal protection for vulnerable groups facing bias violence, especially individuals with disabilities and from the LGBTQ+ community.

Additionally, the European Parliament's report may prompt changes in how the Czech Republic regulates its sex industry. The recommendation advocates for the 'Nordic model,' criminalizing the purchase of sex while decriminalizing its sale to combat gender inequality and protect vulnerable individuals.

In Poland, nationalist leader Robert Bąkiewicz faces a binding conviction for a violent attack against Katarzyna Augustynek, a notable protester for women's and LGBT rights. Bąkiewicz, a former parliamentary candidate, contests the ruling, citing political bias.

 

3/11/2023

In breaking news, former member of parliament Dominik Feri has been sentenced to three years in prison for two rapes and one attempted rape. Feri, a former MP for the TOP 09 party, is expected to appeal the verdict. Our legal correspondent will bring you more on this as the story develops.

Moving on to Poland, a local authority that previously declared itself "free from LGBT ideology" has voted to withdraw the measure. The resolution was revoked under the threat of losing millions of zloty in EU funding. This marks a significant shift, as only 15 out of 105 initially introduced resolutions remain in force. Our correspondent will provide further updates on this story.

In education news, a university established in Warsaw by conservative legal group Ordo Iuris has registered only one new student this year, despite boasting 34 lecturers. Collegium Intermarium, supported by the Polish government, aimed to be a "forge of elites" for the region. Stay tuned for more on this developing story.

 

 

2/11/2023

Random checks at the Czech-Slovak border have been extended until November 22 due to concerns about illegal migration. Prime Minister Petr Fiala emphasized the need for a European solution. Germany also extended its border checks.

Poland has signed an agreement with the European Space Agency to launch its first constellation of satellites in 2027. The €85 million project aims to monitor land use, agriculture, environment, infrastructure, and emergencies.

A photojournalist's conviction for assaulting a police officer during Poland's abortion protests has been overturned on appeal. Agata Grzybowska's arrest during a protest in 2020 sparked protests from fellow journalists and international press organizations."

 

 

1/11/2023

Meta Platforms unveiled new subscription plans for Facebook and Instagram, enabling users in the EU, including Czechia, Switzerland, and the European Economic Area, to access the platforms without ads. The subscriptions will be available from November, although a specific purchase date is yet to be confirmed.

In the Czech Republic, the Prague 3 District Court public prosecutor has recommended a three-year prison sentence for former MP Dominik Feri, accused of two rapes and one attempted rape. The court is set to deliver its verdict on Thursday.

In Poland, state-controlled TV, known for one-sided coverage, has initiated a campaign defending media pluralism, portraying themselves as victims after the election loss of the Law and Justice party. The sudden change reflects the intense political environment in the country."

 

 

31/10/2023

In Czechia, All Souls' Day on November 2nd is forecasted to be the costliest in history, due to high inflation and increased global supply chain expenses. Economist Lukáš Kovanda notes it's the nation's fourth most financially significant celebration, with an average CZK 200 spend per person, totaling CZK 1.4 billion yearly on candles and chrysanthemums.

South Bohemian police are investigating a woman's murder after her body was found in a cemetery, and Austrian authorities are pursuing a suspect connected to the case. Another murder in Austria is potentially linked to the same assailant, and both Czech and Austrian police are seeking witnesses.

Media groups related to Poland's ruling party warn of threats to press freedom if the opposition takes power. State broadcaster TVP set up a hotline for "media pluralism" support, but critics argue that under the current party's rule, media freedom declined, reflected in Poland's lowest-ever ranking on the World Press Freedom Index."

 

27/10/2023

Tensions in the Czech Republic over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are rising after Prime Minister Petr Fiala's visit to Israel, expressing support for Israel. Protests in Prague at the Foreign Ministry highlight concerns about Gaza's humanitarian situation amidst Israeli military actions. An inquiry in Pilsen involves alleged anti-Semitic messages found near a kebab shop. Similar rallies across Europe reflect global polarization on this complex issue.

The renowned Czech conductor Zdeněk Mácal, who worked with leading orchestras worldwide, has passed away at 87. Mácal's career included conducting prestigious orchestras, contributing to the promotion of Czech music both domestically and internationally.

Poland sees a record 11% annual decline in births, marking the first time it has hit double-digit levels. The country grapples with one of Europe's lowest fertility rates, recording 280,000 live births in the past year and 414,100 deaths, a trend since 2018.

 

25/10/2023

The Vatican accepts the resignation of Bishop Grzegorz Kaszak of Sosnowiec following a scandal involving a "sex party" organized by a priest in his diocese. The official reason for his departure remains undisclosed. Archbishop Adrian Galbasa will temporarily assume his duties.

Czech Republic plans to streamline divorce proceedings, making them more accessible and less time-consuming starting in 2025. Proposed legal changes include eliminating the need to investigate the causes of divorce and merging divorce and child custody proceedings into a single court process.

Major tram track repairs in Prague's Holešovice district will lead to traffic detours for nearly two months from October 27 to December 5. Various tram lines and car traffic will be temporarily rerouted during the maintenance work.

 

 

24/10/2023

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala emphasizes the importance of a potential $2 billion chip manufacturing center by American company Onsemi in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm. Onsemi is considering investment in the Czech Republic, among other locations. The decision is expected by late February 2024. Fiala views this project as a critical factor in rebooting the Czech economy and enhancing Europe's competitiveness.

The Polish government denies allegations from a former head of the Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) that officers were ordered to surveil opposition figures before this month's parliamentary elections. Paweł Wojtunik, former CBA head, raised questions about surveillance during a CBA briefing, prompting scrutiny of Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński. The accusations come as Poland grapples with election-related controversies.

A pro-Palestine demonstration in Warsaw drew participants condemning Israel's actions in Gaza. The Israeli ambassador to Poland decried the event as "blatant antisemitism," citing a sign depicting the Israeli flag in a bin. Another banner called for a "free Palestine." The demonstration highlights ongoing tensions related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

 

 

23/10/2023

Czechia expects to have 360,000 packs of penicillin available by the end of November, addressing medicine shortages. However, distribution remains uneven. A government amendment aims to reduce such shortages by requiring manufacturers to maintain supplies during disruptions. Some critics find the amendment insufficient, leading to ongoing discussions in the Chamber of Deputies.

Poland's justice minister seeks to challenge a planned EU ban on petrol and diesel cars through the Polish Constitutional Tribunal. Poland was the only EU member state to vote against the ban that would take effect from 2035. The minister views the ban as detrimental to Polish citizens' rights to choose their vehicles.

A demonstration in Warsaw, showing support for Palestine, raised concerns. Some banners and slogans were viewed as promoting antisemitism and a call for Israel's eradication. The Israeli ambassador and Polish officials criticized these signs as inappropriate and potentially violating the law.

 

 

20/10/2023

In the Czech Republic, a recent study from the Ministry of Health reveals a 6% year-on-year rise in gender reassignment applications. While greater tolerance and information contribute to this increase, the mandatory castration required for the operation remains a significant hurdle for potential patients.

Exciting political news from Poland as a coalition of opposition parties secures a robust victory against the nativist-authoritarian government. This outcome signals the end of an eight-year rule by the Law and Justice party, marking a significant change for the country and its institutions.

In Poland, wholesale petrol prices from state energy giant Orlen have risen substantially after a period of depression leading up to recent elections. Accusations of artificially lowering prices to aid the ruling party's campaign were denied by Orlen. The price drop puzzled experts, given factors that should have led to price increases.

 

 

19/10/2023

The Czech coalition government faces a parliamentary no-confidence vote over allegations of economic mismanagement and immigration control issues. Opposition party ANO, led by Andrej Babiš, accuses the government of mishandling high inflation and migration. Inflation has been declining from 17.5% in January to 6.9% in September, but concerns persist. The government temporarily reinstated border checks with Slovakia in October to address immigration challenges.

A man in Warsaw used a clever ruse to commit thefts at a shopping center. He posed as a mannequin until closing time and then stole jewelry. On a different occasion, he used the same trick to dine at a restaurant and switch his clothes for new ones in a store. However, his luck ran out when security staff detained him. The 22-year-old now faces burglary and theft charges.

Poland's German minority has lost its only parliamentary seat, marking the end of an era. Since 1991, the German minority had consistently won seats in parliament. Although they were exempt from the 5% national vote threshold, they competed in electoral districts with other candidates, leading to this historic loss.

 

 

18/10/2023

Czech university professors launch a nationwide strike to protest long-standing underfunding, particularly in arts and humanities faculties. The "warning strike" organized by the University Trade Union occurs today, disrupting thousands of students. Their main demands are increased government funding in the 2024 state budget for decent wages and better working conditions, addressing the chronic underfunding issue in higher education.

Projections from Poland's general election reveal strong support for opposition parties, signaling potential change after eight years of divisive policies. The final results are awaited, but an exit poll by Ipsos suggests Law and Justice received 36.6% of votes, with Civic Coalition at 31%. This marks a significant shift in Polish politics.

Poland's German minority loses its single parliamentary seat for the first time since the early 1990s. The outgoing MP described this loss as "the end of an era." While they've had representation since 1991, they're not legally guaranteed a seat, as they're exempt from the 5% national vote threshold.

 

 

 

17/10/2023

 

In Prague's Old Town Square, a suspicious item prompted a brief evacuation. Authorities called in a bomb disposal expert, but no explosive threat was confirmed. Similar false alarms occurred recently at the Spanish Synagogue and Wenceslas Square. Police continue to respond diligently to such reports.

Poland's stock market and the zloty surged after exit polls indicated an opposition coalition's potential to form a new government. The Warsaw Stock Exchange (GPW) saw its best post-election opening since 1991, with gains of nearly 4% by Monday afternoon. The zloty strengthened, trading below 4.5 zloty per euro.

The Polish parliamentary elections saw record-high turnout at 73%, including a surge in Poles voting abroad. The election felt significant to many due to issues like the abortion ban. Many expressed their motivation to vote based on concerns about women's rights and social issues in Poland.

 

 

 

 

16/10/2023

A tense political landscape unfolds in Poland. Exit polls suggest the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) is poised to lose power. While PiS claims an early victory, the opposition led by Donald Tusk eyes potential alliances with smaller parties to form the next government. With a record 73% voter turnout, Poland faces a period of uncertainty as negotiations and political maneuvering will shape the country's future.

A chill descends on the Czech Republic as night and morning frosts threaten crops. The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute warns that ground frosts may harm heat-sensitive vegetables and corn. Covering crops with non-woven fabric is advised to protect against plummeting temperatures, which may reach minus four degrees Celsius. Be prepared for frosty conditions in the days ahead.

An unsettling incident unfolds in Warsaw as a man climbs a monument dedicated to the victims of the 2010 Smolensk air crash, threatening to detonate a bomb. Police have taken control of the situation. The timing, one day before elections, raises concerns, although there is no immediate link between the two events.

 

 

 

 

12/10/2023

The Czech Republic is undertaking a second repatriation flight to Tel Aviv, Israel, aiming to evacuate citizens stranded due to recent terrorist attacks. The first flight successfully brought back 34 individuals, including Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský. Agriculture Minister Marek Výborný canceled a business mission to Uzbekistan to assist with the evacuation. The Czech Foreign Ministry has established an emergency information line, and they're urging citizens to contact the embassy in Tel Aviv for assistance, prioritizing the safety of Czech nationals in Israel.

In Gdansk, Poland, young activists are working to protect democracy in their country. They fear that the hard-right Law and Justice party is endangering the freedoms won by the Solidarity movement. This weekend's election is seen as a pivotal moment, addressing concerns such as court independence, women's rights, media freedom, and relations with Brussels. The young generation is rallying to vote under the slogan "In My Day, Things Will Be Better."

Du

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