A gathering of neo-Nazis on Prague’s Palacký Square on Saturday ended without incident. Around 250 far right extremists met on the square which functions as the city’s version of speaker’s corner in London’s Hyde Park, where demonstrators can meet without permission from the authorities. A police spokesperson said, however, that two skinheads were detained for carrying weapons. Extra officers were on duty in Prague today as extremist groups were expected to stage a rally in the city. The neo-Nazis had originally wanted to march through Plzeň, west Bohemia, but the municipality banned them from doing so.
In Plzeň, where the neo-Nazis’ march was originally to take place, three individuals have been arrested for making the Hitler salute. All three detained are foreign nationals from Poland. Hundreds of police officers were drafted into the west Bohemian town earlier this morning to break up any demonstrations held there by right-wing radicals. Far-right groups were planning to march through Plzeň on the anniversary of the deportation of the town’s Jews to the concentration camp Terezín. Plzeň authorities had originally allowed the march to take place, but on Thursday, in the face of strong media pressure, the municipality outlawed the march.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Czechs turned out in Plzeň on Saturday to commemorate the first deportation of the town’s Jews to concentration camps where most of them died. Speeches were delivered to the crowd by the chief Czech Rabbi Karel Sidon and Catholic Bishop František Radkovksý. About 100 riot police, 30 police vans and a water canon were stationed nearby, in case the event were sabotaged by neo-Nazis who had planned to march. Names of some of the Jews deported were read at the act of commemoration. Then, under police supervision, the crowd then moved to St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral where candles were symbolically lit.
The opposition Social Democrats have announced that their lawsuit against the police and Jan Kubice, the former head of a police unit fighting against organized crime, will be brought on Monday. The Social Democrats are suing both the Czech Police and Mr Kubice, whom they suspect of unlawful interference in political matters in the run up to 2006’s general election. A report which Mr Kubice has written and which accused senior Social Democrats including their leader Jiří Paroubek of having ties with the mafia was leaked shortly before Czechs went to the polls. The Social Democrats have said that they believe the leaking of this report seriously harmed them in the general elections. On Friday, Mr Paroubek released a statement saying that the Social Democrats’ complaints about the leak have ‘repeatedly been swept under the carpet’, and so for that reason the party was forced to bring a lawsuit which would start on Monday.
Members of the Romany hip-hop outfit Gipsy.cz have said that they are writing a song which speaks out against the head of the Christian Democratic Party, Jiří Čunek, and his views on the Czech Republic’s Roma minority. Mr Čunek reached the headlines earlier week after making fresh comments about the Czech Republic’s 80,000 or so Romany inhabitants. He accused the ethnic group of contributing to its own social exclusion, and said that traditional Romany values were incompatible with a modern, just society. Gipsy.cz have responded by saying they ‘are unable to remain silent’ in the face of such discriminatory views, and that they want to use their popularity here in the Czech Republic to spread a counter-message. The group said it had started on the composition, but could not say when it would be ready.
Meteorologists have warned of the risk of floods in the northern part of the country, which warm weather melting snow, and rain predicted over the next couple of days. The warning has gone out to inhabitants of the region around Liberec, and those living around the Krkonoše Mountains. Floods are predicted for this evening in the affected areas, and meteorologists warn that the situation could last until Monday night.
Two men have drowned on a white-water rafting expedition in eastern Bohemia, police said Saturday. Three men fell out of their raft when it was tossed about on some rapids - one of the men was saved by fireman, while divers are still searching for the other two. The police have presumed both individuals dead. A fourth man survived having managed to stay in the raft when it entered dangerous waters. Both survivors have been taken to hospital. Their condition has not been commented upon.
In Tennis, Tomáš Berdych is through to the final 16 at the Australian Open, where he is set to meet the world number one Roger Federer. Berdych beat Juan Monaco of Argentina 3:6, 6:3, 7:6, 6:2 in slightly under two hours to progress through to the last 16. Berdych has played Federer seven times in the past, and suffered six defeats. Since winning against Federer at the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, Berdych has failed to win a single set against Federer at their last six encounters.
Czech striker Michal Pospíšil has left Scottish Premier League side Hearts and signed a three-and-a-half year deal with the Belgian team St Truiden. His agent made the announcement to the Czech press on Friday. The 28-year-old had played for Sparta Prague and Slovan Liberec before making the move to Scotland. St Truiden are second from bottom of the Belgian first division.
The first of two scheduled ski jumps at Harrachov in the north of Bohemia has been cancelled due to adverse weather conditions, the International Ski Federation (FIS) has announced. Saturday’s competition got off to a shaky start before the rain and strong winds forced organizers to call it off, said the FIS. Organisers are hoping for improved conditions for Sunday’s leg.
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