Czech police have revealed that a total of 396 individuals – 96 of them
foreign nationals – were detained in Prague on Saturday in connection to
an illegal demonstration in the city. Right-wing extremists had
threatened to march through the city’s historic Jewish quarter on the
anniversary of Kristallnacht – the Nazi pogrom which targeted Jews in
Germany in 1938. But the radicals showed up in lesser numbers than
and failed to go ahead with the event in the face of a strong police
presence: some 1,600 officers. Throughout the day right-wing extremists
were arrested in a number of locations in the city, after clashing with
police. Some were detained after police found them carrying concealed
weapons, including batons and homemade explosives.
According to the numbers now revealed, around 200 individuals were charged with misdemeanours; three extremists were charged with assault on a police officer.
Heavy snowfall in parts of the Czech Republic has complicated the situation on some roads. The region of Liberec, north Bohemia has seen strong snowfall leading to minor accidents and crashes. The region has warned drivers to not get behind the wheel unless necessary. Vysocina (the Czech-Moravian highlands) has also seen ten centimetres of new snow. In places trucks have had difficulty in hills, resulting in blocked routes and long delays.
Economist Jan Svejnar has indicated that if he were to run for the office of the president, he would be interested in debating incumbent Vaclav Klaus on television. He said as much during a news programme on Czech TV on Sunday. Mr Svejnar pointed to differences between the two men on issues such as global warming, the economy, or approach to democracy. According to a recent STEM poll for the daily Pravo, 28 percent of the population said they would vote for Mr Svejnar given the chance, something the economist said he viewed as a positive sign as he is less known than Mr Klaus. Mr Svejnar has dual citizenship and divides his time between the Czech Republic and the US. Under the current system the Czech presidential election is not decided by the public but by MPs and senators in Parliament.
Women’s javelin world champion Barbora Spotakova has been named Czech “Athlete of the Year”. The survey pools votes from organisers, specialists in the field of sport, and journalists. Spotakova won with 1,187 votes - 46 ahead of last year’s winner decathlon world champion Roman Sebrle. It is the first time Ms Spotakova has been named top Czech athlete.
Despite the failure by right-wing radicals to march on Saturday, a number
of skirmishes between neo-Nazis and anarchist groups did break out. In one
incident a skinhead fired an air pistol into a crowd, injuring one. There
were fears the city might see more clashes between skinheads and
anarchists, but the situation calmed considerably by mid-evening.
Estimates by Prague’s Mayor Pavel Bem set the figure of right-wing extremists in Prague on Saturday at around 300-400. The Neo-Nazis were outnumbered by leftist radicals, who numbered around 1,000. On Saturday evening Mr Bem praised the police for their handling of the situation, indicating they had done an exemplary job in preventing the neo-Nazi march from going ahead.
Tampa Bay forward Vaclav Prospal was named the first star in a game
between the Sharks and the Washington Capitals in NHL ice hockey action on
Saturday. Prospal scored one goal and notched up two assists in his
team’s 5:2 win.
In other action, Martin Erat lifted Nashville over Columbus by scoring the final penalty in a 4:3 shoot-out.
In related news, icy conditions are likely to have been a factor in a car crash in southern Bohemia that killed the driver, but spared five fellow passengers: two women and three children. The car went off the road and hit a tree at high speed, the director of local emergency services said. The other adults in the car suffered injuries; they and the children in the vehicle were taken to hospital for treatment.
A full-length feature by filmmaker Helena Trestikova entitled “Marcela” has been awarded the prize for Best European Documentary at the Seville Film Festival. Trestikova’s film is the first Czech production to be given the prize. “Marcela” follows the life of Czech Marcela Haverlandova, originally a subject of Trestikova’s TV documentary cycle “Marriage Stories”. Trestikova began filming her when Haverlandova married in 1980 at the age of 20, and returned to her periodically over the years. Mrs Haverlandova’s story – one of overcoming personal tragedy – evoked a strong response from many Czech viewers when it was first broadcast in 2006.
The Jewish community held a memorial ceremony early on Saturday afternoon in opposition to the planned march by neo-Nazis. The ceremony was held at the Old-New Synagogue and was attended by several hundred including prominent politicians. Among the present were Prague’s Mayor Pavel Bem, Interior Minister Ivan Langer, Environment Minister Martin Bursik, and others.