When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Enjoy unlimited access to quality journalism.

Limited time offer

Get your 30-day free trial!

Czech Republic

This Happened

This Happened — November 17: After Prague Spring, A Smoother Revolution

In the push for an end to the Communist regime, Prague's international students took to the streets to have their demands heard on November 17, 1989. It was the beginning of what would come to be known as the Velvet Revolution.

Sign up to receive This Happened straight to your inbox each day!

Watch VideoShow less

Why Poland Still Doesn't Have Nuclear Power

Poland has announced plans to build its first nuclear power plant with the help of a U.S. firm. But it's not the first time the country has tried to build such a plant. So, will it actually happen this time?

-Analysis-

WARSAWPoland is surrounded by numerous nuclear power plants in the neighborhood: in Germany, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary, Belarus, Bulgaria, Finland and Sweden. But we don't have our own. There are more than 500 reactors in operation worldwide, and another 55 are under construction. Most are slugging along, and their prices have risen well above the original construction costs.

The best example is Britain's Hinkley Point C power plant. The UK owns the most expensive nuclear power plant in the world. But the work is still going on, as the construction has been delayed.

The construction of a Polish nuclear power plant seemed to be underway in the 1980s, when the country was to join the ranks of nuclear-powered countries. We were to have not one but two power plants — one in Pomerania in Żarnowiec in the north of the country and another in the village of Klempicz, near the city of Poznań in the west. But the government abandoned these plans in 1990. The reasons were a lack of money, the collapsing USSR, and a lack of enthusiasm following the Chernobyl disaster.

Keep reading...Show less

Europe's Winter Energy Crisis Has Already Begun

In the face of Russia's stranglehold over supplies, the European Commission has proposed support packages and price caps. But across Europe, fears about the cost of living are spreading — and with it, doubts about support for Ukraine.

-Analysis-

In her State of the Union address on September 14, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, issued an urgent appeal for solidarity between EU member states in tackling the energy crisis, and towards Ukraine. Von der Leyen need only look out her window to see that tensions are growing in capital cities across Europe due to the sharp rise in energy prices.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

In the Czech Republic, people are already taking to the streets, while opposition politicians elsewhere are looking to score points — and some countries' support for Ukraine may start to buckle.

With winter approaching, Europe is facing a true test of both its mettle, and imagination.

Keep reading...Show less

COVID Spikes In EU, Bulgaria Bus Crash, Uber Weed

👋 Tere!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where EU countries face a sharp rise in COVID cases and conflict, at least 25 die in a Bulgarian bus crash, and Uber starts delivering weed. Bogota-based daily El Espectador takes us through the return of gang violence taking over the streets of Medellín, Colombia, which became notorious during the 1970s thanks to drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

[*Estonian]

Keep reading...Show less
LGBTQ Plus
William Nattrass

A Czech Exception? LGBTI Push For Progress In Central Europe

Attitudes are shifting in countries with both a communist past and strong Christian roots.

PRAGUE — It's no secret that Central Europe isn't the world's best place for LGBTI people. The odious anti-gay rhetoric of Polish President Andrzej Duda recently made international headlines, along with the country's introduction of "LGBT-free zones." In Hungary, Viktor Orbán's government used its power of decree during the coronavirus pandemic to make it impossible for people to change their legal gender, passing a bill replacing "gender" in the civil registry with "sex at birth." Meanwhile, Slovakia's Constitution explicitly limits marriage to opposite-sex couples, while a Eurobarometer survey five years ago found that only 24% of Slovaks support same-sex marriage.

Still, the region is not a monolith and times continue to evolve, which makes the situation for LGBTI in the Czech Republic worth particular attention.

Watch VideoShow less
Coronavirus

Paris To Prague: A Czech Homecoming And Quarantine Au Revoir

PRAGUE — As I walked down Avenue René Coty on a sunny day in late May, everything was like a Paris postcard — except that my glasses were fogging up over my facemask. But I knew the scenery by heart by then, as I had never left a one-kilometer radius around my student residence during the two-month French national lockdown.

By the end of May, we were two weeks into the "de-confinement" and Parisians could move freely without a piece of paper certifying the purpose, date and time of their outing. But the streets were far quieter than normal as I walked down the stairs into the virtual empty metro station for the first time in three months. A guard at the entrance checked my (homemade) mask and stopped others who didn't have one. Another guard, who helped me get my large suitcase through the turnstile, wished me bon voyage. He guessed right: I was on my way to Charles de Gaulle airport ... and a flight back to my hometown of Prague.

Watch VideoShow less
THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD

Pandemic Blues, The Disconcerting New Concert Experience

Rock hero Dave Grohl, of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame, has described live music performances during the COVID-19 lockdowns as: "unflattering little windows that look like doorbell security footage and sound like Neil Armstrong's distorted transmissions from the moon."

One month later, in some corners of the world, authentic, in-person live music is ready to take the stage again — though with some caveats.

Watch VideoShow less
Geopolitics
Jiří Pehe

Coronavirus And The Czech Republic's Geopolitical Crossroads

-Analysis-

PRAGUE — From a geopolitical perspective, the Czech Republic is a case apart. After four decades of being "abducted" to the East (as writer Milan Kundera, for one, described the era of Soviet communism), it has spent 30 years as part of the West, first as part of Czechoslovakia, with its Velvet Revolution, and later as an independent state and member of both NATO and the European Union. But in recent years, part of the country's political elite and a large part of society have repeatedly questioned our affiliation with the West.

Watch VideoShow less
food / travel
Alex Correa*

A Brazilian Superman, Lost And Homeless In Prague

PRAGUE Czech Republic was the first country I visited that wasn't either Latin or Germanic. Czech, as I found out the hard way, is a very tricky Slavic language, one of those that rarely lets you deduce the meaning of a word and in which entire sentences seem to have been written by somebody with severe cognitive issues.


If you don't believe me, here are a few examples:


— No, I've never heard of the deep web.

— Ne, já jsem nikdy neslyšel o hlubokého webu.


— What did you put in my drink?

— Co jste dal do pití?


— Please, do not take my liver, sir.

— Prosím, neberte mé játra však, pane.


I started in Berlin, Germany. The train journey to Prague's central station is enough to make anybody exhilarated or a little scared. The script changes little by little until you start realizing that either you dropped acid that somehow confused all the letters on the signs, or you've entered the Czech Republic.

When everything goes according to plan, it's actually rather easy to become enthralled with such a different language. There are an infinite number of possibilities, and it's a lot easier to meet new people in bars, for example with the always efficient, "How do you say cheers in your language?" But if things start going off the tracks, the interest in exoticism devolves into an abyss of despair, and with one magical step, you find yourself unable to find a living soul who speaks English.

That's what happened to me after I dedicated a reasonable amount time to figuring out the city's public transport system. (Trying to memorize the names of the surrounding metro stations when your phone's battery is giving up isn't the best idea.) I reached my Airbnb rental and discovered that the hosts had forgotten about my arrival and were unreachable. I waited for two hours, entering and exiting the building thanks to considerate neighbors, and I found a café with Wi-Fi to allow me to pursue a plan B.

Tossed out

I was thrown out of the café at 10 p.m., when it was already very dark outside and the employees wanted to go home. I ended up staying in a remote neighborhood with a guy who would later send me Whatsapp messages on a daily basis to ask if I'd "already picked up a Czech chick." After an exhausting day, I had what every traveler needs: somewhere to sleep and a stranger to ask me inappropriate questions. What more could I wish for?

[rebelmouse-image 27090144 alt="""" original_size="640x480" expand=1]

Is that clear? — Photo — Infinite Ache

The next day, showered and ready to explore the city, I started meeting other tourists who were also desperately confused by the language. I reached deep inside to embrace my best altruism and swore that whenever I'd see somebody lost or looking for information, I'd offer to help.

The project started well: I met an errant explorer on the tram and directed him toward his hotel across the city. In a restaurant, I helped a couple decipher the menu using Google Translate. In just a few hours, I became Prague's Superman, without the six pack and super powers.

Living up to my new, Good Samaritan status, I became the hero of two helpless Japanese girls standing in the middle of the sidewalk with gigantic suitcases. Or at least I tried to. They were trying to make sense of their city map. But when people don't even know they're holding the map upside down, you know it's going to be a slog for them.

I came closer, but they completely ignored me. When I finally offered to help, I was sprayed with a series of piercing "no no no no no no no no no nos." They moved away from me, leaving their luggage where it was, as if I'd been holding a gun to their heads. They made all sorts of hand gestures to tell me to go away, saying stuff in Japanese. I tried to explain myself: "I'm just trying to help some strangers in the street because when I first arrived in Prague myself ... " but I failed miserably. They were only moving further away, each time a little faster, while I was trying to give my best rendition of "it's not what you're thinking." Thanks for nothing, pop culture.

About 40 minutes later, I returned to the spot, and there they were, sitting on the curbside. But they at least holding the map properly this time. I didn't stop. One moment I had been Superman, the next Godzilla. I left them behind in that alley.

And I'm fine with it. As Confucius famously said, "It's no use trying to help those who don't help themselves." Not even in Prague.

Watch VideoShow less
blog

Victims Of Communism

There are several statues, monuments and informal crosses thoughout Prague that commemorate the death of 21-year-old Jan Palach and 19-year-old Jan Zajíc. The two students set themselves on fire in 1969 to protest the end of the Prague Spring, brought on by the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led armies.

blog

Opening Up

Over the years, we saw Prague transition from austere Soviet Czechoslovakia to the more tourist-friendly Czech Republic. I took this picture of my wife in the Old Town Square — one of Europe's most beautiful squares — just about eight months before the dissolution of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

EXPLORE OTHER TOPICS
chinaitalyusafrancegermany