The Jewish community in Plzen, western Bohemia, is organizing a gathering outside the city’s Great Synagogue on January 19 in protest against a neo-Nazi march planned for that day. The march is supposed to take place two months after a similar event in Prague where thousands gathered in the Jewish quarter to stop neo-Nazis from marching on the anniversary of Kristallnacht. The far-right group plans to march past the synagogue in Plzen to protest against restrictions of freedom of speech. Czech Jewish organisations say this is only a pretext as the march will take place on the eve of the anniversary of the first transport of Plzen Jews to Nazi extermination camps during WWII.
Tobacco market in the Czech Republic is witnessing a price war among major cigarette producers, the daily Pravo reports. The price conflict started when the JT International tobacco company only increased the price of its flagship Camel brand to 64 crowns, or just over 3.5 US dollars, due to the VAT increase in 2007. As a result, the sales of Camel cigarettes in the Czech Republic have tripled. Other producers, including Phillip Morris and International Tobacco, have reacted with bringing down the prices of their products as well. In 2008, the prices of cigarettes and other tobacco products will rise again due to the increase in consumer tax.
Czech-born, US-based economist and presidential candidate Jan Svejnar arrived in Prague on Friday after spending the Christmas holiday in the United States. He arrived in the capital with his wife and daughter about a month before the election, to begin on February 8. The candidate has gotten backing from the Green Party and the opposition Social Democrats, and is thought to have the support of some Christian Democrats and Communists; he is the only other candidate in the race against incumbent Vaclav Klaus. A recent poll suggested some 34 percent of Czechs feel that Mr Svejnar would do a better job as president, while an equal number says the same for Mr Klaus. A remaining 32 percent of respondents made clear they had no preference.
The Czech Republic’s Vietnamese community celebrated the coming New Year on Friday with a big concert, first of its kind in the country. The performance of 13 pop singers, ensembles and comedians was attended by members of Vietnamese communities from Germany and Poland as well. Some of the performers, including singers Huong Lan and Duong Trieu Vu arrived from Vietnam for the occasion, others made the trip from the United States. The Vietnamese community is the Czech Republic’s third largest minority with some 50,000 members.
A 23-year-old man died in the German Alps on Thursday. He was one of six Czech mountaineers climbing the Watzmann peak in Bavaria, Germany’s third highest mountain. The man slipped and fell of a rock when descending from the east face of the mountain. The accident happened after the group decided to return due to an increased avalanche risk.
The Czech U-20 national ice hockey team beat Slovakia 5:2 at the World Championship in Pardubice on Saturday. The Czechs took the lead in the first period with two goals while their Slovak peers were only able to bring the puck into the net when the score was 4:0 for the Czechs. This victory secures the Czech Under-20 national team a spot in the Championship’s quarter-finals. In previous games, the Czech Republic beat Denmark and only lost to Canada, the tournament’s favourite.
Czech cross-country skier Lukas Bauer won on Saturday the 15 km free-style race in Nove Mesto na Morave, western Moravia. He finished with a 47-second advance before Sweden’s Marcus Hellner. This is Lukas Bauer’s second victory in the Moravian part of the Tour de Ski after his triumph in 4.5 km classical style race on Friday. The skiing tour continues in the Czech Republic with another four races before moving to Italy for the final part of the eight-race World Cup event in cross-country skiing.
Czech skier and world champion Sarka Zahrobska finished short of the second round of women’s World Cup slalom in Lienz, Austria on Saturday. In the first round, she finished 37th, and did not make it to the second leg, for the first time in her career. Zahrobska did not make the second round of giant slalom in Lienz in Thursday, either. Sarka Zahrobska is currently 14th in the overall standings of the World Cup in downhill skiing.
The Czech Constitutional Court has received a proposal to abrogate a law
which allowed the recent establishment of the Czech Republic’s Institute
for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. The proposal put forward on
was signed by 57 opposition deputies from the Social Democratic as well as
Communist Parties. The recently-founded institute is to study the periods
of Nazism and communism in Czech history. From the start its establishment
has strongly been opposed by left-of-centre politicians, who have argued
will be a waste of funds and say it could make it possible to politically
influence the interpretation of history. It is unclear how soon the
Constitutional Court might rule on the proposal.
Last week historian Pavel Zacek was elected the institute's first head; he will formally assume his new post on January 1.
According to Czech-counter intelligence, the BIS, criminal groups from
countries from the former Soviet Union went so far as to “elect” a
high-standing organised crime leader for the Czech Republic. The BIS
revealed the information in its annual report for 2006. According to the
service, the criminal boss allegedly oversees activities of all
Russian-speaking criminal groups across the Czech Republic. BIS spokesman
Jan Subert has declined to reveal whether the authorities know the
figure’s identity. The boss is said to have been elected at a secret
meeting in Moscow at which Russian, Ukrainian and Caucasian groups divided
territories of operation.
The recent murder of a chauffeur of the head of the Czech Republic’s largest lottery company – a case of mistaken identity - has drawn increased attention to the activity of criminal gangs on Czech territory.