Hundreds of people attended a memorial ceremony on Sunday at the site of the former village of Ležáky in central Bohemia, which was burned to the ground by the Nazis in 1942. As in the case of Lidice, which was destroyed two weeks earlier, Ležáky’s citizens were either murdered immediately or sent to concentration camps. Both atrocities were carried out in response to the assassination of the Nazi governor of Bohemia and Moravia Reinhard Heydrich. Among those in attendance at Sunday’s memorial were the Šťulík sisters who survived the massacre and were sent at the age of one and two-and-a-half to be brought up by German families.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout says he sees no problem in leaving the selection of the next Czech European commissioner until after early elections in October. Speaking on a TV debate programme, Mr Kohout said, however, that by then political parties and the government should have produced a short-list of at least three possible candidates for the post. The election results would then determine who gets the job, he said. A few days ago the caretaker Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, criticised the lack of clarity surrounding the appointment, which he said complicated talks on what position the Czech Republic will get on the European Commission. The current Czech commissioner is Vladimír Špidla, who holds the employment and social affairs brief.
Two people died on Sunday when they were doing a tandem skydive and their parachute failed to open. The accident occurred near Mladá Boleslav in central Bohemia around 1 p.m. A spokesperson for the local police said it was as yet unclear what had caused the accident. On Saturday a pilot died after his light plane crashed near Chrudim in east Bohemia. Three parachutists on the plane survived after jumping out of the aircraft before the crash.
Thirty-four Slovak secondary school students were injured when a Czech bus they were travelling in crashed in Styria, Austria on Sunday. The students were returning to Senice in Slovakia from a holiday in Italy when their coach turned over, possibly after one of their two Czech drivers fell asleep at the wheel, Czech Television reported. Three passengers with relatively serious injuries were taken to hospital.
A plaque in honour of General Heliodor Píka has been erected at Bory prison in Plzeň, where he was executed exactly 60 years ago. He formed a unit from Czechoslovak soldiers in Soviet camps during World War II and in 1945 was appointed to one of the highest posts in the country’s army. However, four years later General Píka became the first person in Czechoslovakia sentenced to death after a Stalinist show trial. The plaque states that he was murdered because he had witnessed the Soviet gulags.
June 21 is “tax freedom day” in the Czech Republic, according to the calculations of Patria Finance. The date by which Czech tax payers have theoretically earned enough to fund the country’s annual tax burden was originally expected to be June 17. However, it has fallen four days later due to a downwards revision of expected economic growth. Patria calculated tax freedom day using the methods of America’s Tax Foundation. Prague’s Liberální institute, which uses an OEDC model, says Czechs experienced tax freedom day on June 13.
Nearly 180,000 people took advantage of what is called a “museum night” in Prague on Saturday, when 28 institutions in the Czech capital opened their doors from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m. Admission was either free or for a token price. The “museum night” tradition was begun by the National Museum in 2004. Prague is far from the only place to have take part: over five evenings 168 institutions were opened to the public in 113 cities and towns.
Promising Czech football goalkeeper Jan Šebek is set to sign a two-year professional contract with the English Premier League club Chelsea at the start of next month. Šebek, who is 18, has spent two years at Chelsea’s academy and has trained for some time with their senior squad, including Czech international goalkeeper Petr Čech. Čech has won a number of trophies and individual accolades during five years at the club.
The agent of Pavel Nedvěd has held talks with Lazio about the possibility of the Czech soccer legend joining the club on a one-year contract, the newspaper Corriere Dello Sport reported. Nedvěd, who is 36, recently played his last game with another Italian club Juventus and indicated he was retiring. His agent was quoted by Corriere Dello Sport as saying the midfielder would decide on his future after he returned from a two-week holiday. Nedvěd spent five years at Lazio before joining Juve in 2001.
It is “stupidity” on the part of EU leaders to suggest guarantees
given to Ireland do not represent a change to the Lisbon treaty, says the
Eurosceptic Czech president, Václav Klaus. An agreement reached on Friday
aimed at helping the Irish government win support for Lisbon in a second
referendum does not affect the ratification of the document in other
states. However, Mr Klaus told Czech Radio that a schoolchild would know
the guarantees for Ireland do actually change Lisbon.
The Czech president, a fierce opponent of further European integration, said before the Brussels summit that the agreement with Ireland should be approved by the Czech Parliament because it changes the character of the Lisbon treaty. The Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, disagreed, saying it was a “government type” international treaty and therefore did not need parliamentary ratification.
Both houses of the Czech parliament have voted to ratify the EU’s reform treaty. However, Mr Klaus is currently refusing to put his signature to ratification. He is waiting for the result of a legal challenge taken by Eurosceptic Czech senators, and also says he will not sign as long as Ireland hasn’t approved Lisbon.