The chief bodyguard of the Czech president, Václav Klaus, has resigned following an incident on Friday in which a man was able to attack the head of state from extremely close range with a pellet-firing plastic gun. Explaining his decision to quit, Jiří Sklenka said that while he had not been present during the attack, which occurred in the north Bohemian town of Chrastava, he felt responsible for the actions of his subordinates. Mr. Klaus’s security detail were widely criticised for the slow and ineffective manner in which they reacted to the incident, with the president himself describing their response as an all-round failure. His attacker, 26-year-old Pavel Vondrouš, has been charged with disorderly conduct.
According to the police’s information, two men charged in connection with producing methanol-tainted bootleg liquor were the only source of the lethal concoction, state attorney Roman Kafka said on Sunday. To date, 26 people have died in the Czech Republic from drinking the fake booze, while others have been blinded. Mr. Kafka said the police were still investigating the pair’s accomplices, including highly-placed distributors. The Czech government banned the sale of all drinks with more than 20 percent alcohol content for almost two weeks following the spate of poisonings.
The Czech state is going to compensate vendors forced to destroy legally acquired alcoholic drinks because they have not been able to acquire on time confirmation that they come from a legitimate source. The state will return the VAT paid on such alcohol in the form of credit towards future income tax, the minister of finance, Miloslav Kalousek, said on Sunday. The government has decided that freshly produced alcohol with proof of origin and new stamps can be sold, as can alcohol produced before the start of 2011. Alcohol produced this year cannot be sold until a so-called “birth certificate” is acquired, within 60 days of last Thursday, when a ban on spirits with over 20 percent alcohol content – introduced in response to the methanol crisis – was partially lifted.
September 30 is the 10th anniversary of the final broadcast in the Czech language by Radio Free Europe, a U.S.-funded station that was established to transmit information across the Iron Curtain to the communist-controlled Eastern Bloc. The first ever broadcast by the station, which was based in Munich, West Germany, took place on May 1 1951 and was in Czech. After the fall of communism, then Czech president Václav Havel invited RFE/RL (by then it had merged with Radio Liberty) to move to Prague, from where it continues to broadcast to countries such as Belarus, Iran and Pakistan.
A DVD featuring the highlights of a concert held in honour of Václav Havel on the night of his funeral last December is being launched at Prague’s Akropolis music venue on Sunday night. Artists such as The Plastic People of the Universe, Suzanne Vega and Ivan Král performed in the original show, which took place at the Czech capital’s Lucerna complex (which was built by Mr. Havel’s grandfather) on December 23, following his state funeral at St. Vitus Cathedral. Members of The Plastic People are among the musicians set to take part in Sunday’s DVD launch.
A new documentary about Brno’s Villa Tugendhat is being premiered on public broadcaster Czech Television on Sunday evening. Alongside period footage, Osud jménem Tugendhat (A Fate Named Tugendhat) features some dramatic re-enactments of events surrounding the history of the world-renowned functionalist building, which reopened earlier this year after extensive renovation work. On Monday, the film will be screened at the Bohemian National Hall in New York as part of the Brno Days–New York event promoting the Moravian capital.
Slavia beat Sparta 1:0 at their Eden stadium on Saturday night in the 278th derby between the two Prague soccer clubs. Slavia’s first win over their historical rivals in four years came thanks to a headed goal by Martin Latka in the 73rd minute. The result helped Slavia climb to within two points of Sparta, who are in fourth place in the Czech top flight. The game had to be halted twice when items were thrown onto the pitch and police arrested 15 fans for fighting before and during the game.
The Czech police have called on members of the public to come forward if they have any information – including video recordings – relating to an incident on Friday in which President Václav Klaus was attacked by a man with a plastic pistol. Mr. Klaus was not injured in the incident, which occurred in the north Bohemian town of Chrastava, where he was opening a new bridge. A man of 26 was arrested soon after shooting at the president from very close range with a plastic "airsoft" pistol that fires pellets. The attacker, who told reporters he had been acting in protest at politicians’ disregard for ordinary people, has been charged with disorderly conduct.
There has been criticism of the slow and ineffective response on the part of President Klaus’s bodyguards to Friday’s attack. Security analyst Andor Šándor told the Czech News Agency that the head of state’s security detail had been guilty of a fatal failure, while a former bodyguard to senior state officials said if the attacker had been carrying a real pistol “we would now have a dead president”. Mr. Klaus himself described the situation as an all-round failure. It was reported on Saturday that the police’s internal affairs department was investigating the affair on suspicion of dereliction of duty.
Jana Bobošíková has become the latest candidate to gather the 50,000 signatures required to stand in next January’s presidential election, her Sovereignty party said on Saturday. To date the only other candidates to acquire the necessary signatures have been Miloš Zeman and Jan Fischer, two former prime ministers that polls suggest have the highest chance of making it into the second, run-off round of the Czech Republic’s first direct presidential vote. Mrs. Bobošíková, whose party support Czech “national interests” and have no seats in the country’s Parliament, was nominated unsuccessfully by the Communist Party in the last, parliamentary election. The current Czech president, Václav Klaus, is due to step down next March after two terms.
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