The police on Saturday detained two people at an anti-Romany rally in the town of Rotava, in northern Bohemia. A police spokesman said they were suspected of hate crimes. The police also confiscated several baseball bats, golf clubs and knives at the rally, organized by the extremist Workers’ Party of Social Justice. Some 400 people, including dozens of extremists from Germany, turned up for the rally who later marched through parts of town mostly inhabited by Romanies.
Czech Airlines will add two extra flights between Paris and Prague over the weekend, and will also increase the capacity of existing flights due to a strike by Air France cabin staff, a spokeswoman for the carrier said on Saturday. The strike is expected to affect some 20 percent of all Air France flights, including two to Prague. The spokeswoman for Czech Airlines said more flights would be added if needed.
The Česká spořitelna bank has won a contract to supply cards to recipients of social welfare, the daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Saturday. The bank won mainly because it had the highest number of ATMs of all the participants in the tender, the daily wrote. However, the winner has yet to be cleared by the Czech anti-monopoly authority. Welfare cards are to be introduced as part of the government’s social and welfare reform; if approved by Parliament, some 86 billion crowns in welfare and other benefits should be paid through these cards. The state should save up to one billion crowns as it will not pay for the service; the bank will charge recipients fees for all but one withdrawal a month.
Daylight saving time in the Czech Republic and other European countries ends at 3AM on Sunday when the clock will shift back by 60 minutes. The time change will affect transportation schedules; in the Czech Republic, three international and seven national express trains will stop at train stations for the extra hour.
President Václav Klaus on Friday awarded state decorations and honours. WWII veterans Mikuláš Končický, Jan Velík and Václav Djačuk received the Order of the White Lion, the highest Czech decoration; the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk was awarded to seven people who were jailed by the Nazis or the Communists; the Medal of Courage was awarded in memoriam to a 16-year-old boy who died when he was saving his drowning friend, and the Medal of Merit was handed to 16 people including translator Martin Hislký, ski jump champion Jiří Raška, the jazz musician Emil Viklický, the cartoonist Vladimír Renčín, and others.
In his address at Prague Castle marking the Czechoslovak Independence Day, President Václav Klaus criticized the society’s lack of respect for authorities and conservative values which was at the heart of the unrest and frustration many people feel. Mr Klaus said Czechs were living in a relative prosperity but their community was threatened by a lack of cohesion that divides the society into opposing groups, such as those of the Roma and non-Roma. The president also criticized the coarsening of public discourse, especially in politics.
Petra Kvitová beat Samantha Stosur 5:7. 6:3, 6:3 in the semifinals of the end-of-season WTA Championships in Istanbul on Saturday and reached tournament’s final. Kvitová made a series of errors in the fist set; in the second, the Australian was leading 1:0 and had a break point but Kvitová defended her serve and eventually dominated the whole match. In Sunday’s final, the new world number two will face Viktoria Azarenka from Belarus.
Czechs on Friday commemorate the 93rd anniversary of the foundation of independent Czechoslovakia, the precursor of the modern-day Czech Republic that was established on October 28, 1918. Events are being held to mark the national holiday; President Václav Klaus laid wreaths at the National Monument at Prague’s Vítkov hill, along with the Archbishop of Prague, Dominik Duka, several government ministers and other officials. The celebrations will conclude on Friday evening when President Klaus will present state honours and decorations at Prague Castle.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Friday laid wreaths at Washington’s statue of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Czechoslovakia’s founder and first president, marking the national holiday. On the second day of his short working visit to the US, Mr Nečas wished Czechs behaved better to each other. On Thursday, the Czech Prime Minister met US President Barack Obama in the White House for talks on issues such as a multi-billion Czech nuclear tender and plans to establish a NATO helicopter training base in the Czech Republic.
The writer, poet, diplomat and former dissident Jiří Gruša died on
Friday at the age of 72. The head of the Czech Pen Club Jiří Dědeček
told the news agency ČTK Mr Gruša died in Hannover, Germany during heart
Jiří Gruša was born in Pradubice on November 10, 1938. He graduated from Charles University in Prague but was banned from publishing after the 1968 Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. He signed the human rights manifesto Charter 77 and left the country in 1981 and lived in Germany. After the fall of communism, he served as the Czech ambassador to Germany and Austria, and also briefly as the minister of education. In 2003, he was elected the head of the International Pen club.
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