The minister of the interior, Ivan Langer, says Romanies have an important role to play in the fight against far-right extremism in the Czech Republic. Speaking in the newspaper Právo, Mr Langer said a new strategy to combat extremism to be unveiled by the prime minister would emphasise the responsibility of every citizen in dealing with the problem. Having been the victims of extremism recently, Romanies should realise they have a key role in fighting it, the minister said. The subject of far-right extremists has been in the news a lot lately following neo-Nazi demonstrations and a petrol bomb attack on a Roma family’s home that left a two-year-old girl fighting for her life.
The UK-based architect Eva Jiřičná is to take over a large-scale project the late Jan Kaplický designed for the city of České Budějovice. The two-billion crown Antonín Dvořák Concert and Congress Centre was still in the planning stages when Kaplický died suddenly at the beginning of this year. The České Budějovice project has been nicknamed the stingray. It bears some resemblance to a National Library building dubbed the blob that Jan Kaplický designed for Prague; after he won the Czech Republic’s first ever international architecture tender for the library building the project was scotched by the city’s authorities.
The Czech president, Václav Klaus, will lead the European Union delegation at an EU-Japan summit in Prague on May 4 as part of the Czech presidency of the 27-member bloc. Jan Fischer, who is to be appointed head of a caretaker Czech cabinet on May 8, will attend a working lunch with the Japanese delegation. The announcement was made on the website of Mr Klaus, who is a Eurosceptic and also says mankind is not to blame for climate change. Japan is to buy Czech carbon credits under a deal signed last month.
Prague police are investigating the deaths of a number of drug addicts in the city in recent weeks. Five addicts between the ages of 20 and 30 are believed to have died in different parts of the capital in the last fortnight. A police spokesperson said they were long term users who did not appear to have overdosed.
Weather forecasters have warned that dry weather and strong winds could cause fires in several parts of the Czech Republic. The Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute issued a warning that fires could break out in eight of the country’s regions between now and Tuesday night, when expected gales should have died down.
The Czech women’s tennis team are tied 1:1 with the United States in the semi-finals of the Fed Cup in Brno. The Czechs went ahead when Petra Kvitová beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-3 7-6 in the first singles rubber on Saturday afternoon. That lead was later wiped out when Alexa Glatch beat Iveta Benešová 6-1 6-2. The last time the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia) reached the final of the Fed Cup was in 1988.
Police have confirmed that a blaze last Saturday, which left a two-year old girl fighting for her life, was arson. The attack took place on a family home in the town of Vítkov in the north-east of the country. So far, the police say they have evidence that three Molotov cocktails were used. They are searching for the perpetrators. Targeted in the attack were eight members of a Romany family; of the three hurt, the little girl was the most seriously injured, suffering severe burns to 80 percent of her body. She remains in critical condition. Her parents also suffered burns but their injuries were not life-threatening. On Thursday, Michael Kocáb, the outgoing Minister for Human Rights and Minorities visited the mother in hospital. He described what had happened to the family as a horror and terrorist attack.
The Czech police arrested former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke in Prague after he arrived in the Czech Republic on Friday. The former Klan leader had been invited by far-right extremists and was meant to lecture at an undisclosed location during his visit. Police said they made the arrest on the suspicion the American supported and promoted movements aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms. Originally, the former KKK head was to lecture to students taking a course on extremism at Prague’s Charles University but the university banned the move earlier this week. A number of Czech politicians, including the country’s interior minister and the minister for human rights and minorities, had expressed concern over Mr Duke’s visit.
The outgoing Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Michael Kocáb has announced he will push for the founding of a council of specialists to help tackle extremism in the country. Speaking to journalists on Friday, the minister said that the public was underestimating rising extremism and anti-Romany sentiments. According to Mr Kocáb, the council would include politicians, representatives from the Roma community, sociologists, historians, lawyers and others. The aim - he made clear on Friday - was to generate vocal and positive discussion on the issues. Since last year the country has seen a higher number of far-right demonstrations, the latest in Ustí nad Labem last weekend. Saturday also saw an attack against a Romany family which shocked many in the country. Police are investigating whether it was racially-motivated.
The Czech prime minister-designate, Jan Fischer, has wrapped up a series of meetings with candidates for ministerial posts in the country’s planned caretaker government. The technocratic government, agreed upon by the two main parties in Parliament - the Civic Democrats and Social Democrats, together with the Greens – will lead the country until October, when the country will see early elections. After meeting with the candidates, the prime minister-designate met on Friday with President Václav Klaus, to inform him of developments. The president has confirmed he will name the new government to office on May 8.