Prime Minister Jan Fischer has cancelled an official visit to Armenia due to illness. The prime minister and a delegation of businesspeople were scheduled to fly to Armenia on Saturday evening. Mr. Fischer will not be able to travel due to a respiratory infection that requires anti-biotic treatment and rest. He was set to continue on to Mongolia and Cambodia after visiting Armenia. A new date for the visit will be agreed upon with diplomatic representatives of the respective countries, a spokesman for the government said on Saturday.
A department of the Czech police that investigates communist-era crimes has started looking into a 1984 explosion in a residential tower block building in Moravia, the daily Právo reported. According to a testimony given by former secret police agent Karel Muroň a month ago, the explosion was not, as previously believed, an accident. Mr. Muroň claims that it was planned by the Communist secret police, the StB, in an effort to disband the Charter 77, a dissident group whose most prominent member was Václav Havel, who later became the Czech president. According to the testimony, the StB was going to charge members of the Charter 77 with having caused the explosion. Mr. Muroň claims he was one of the agents to take part in organizing it, but escaped to Poland before it took place. The explosion, which killed twelve people and injured nine, is considered the most tragic event of this kind in Czech history.
The Czech Republic’s women’s tennis team is losing 2:0 to Italy in the semi-finals of the Fed Cup. In the first singles rubber in Rome on Saturday Lucie Hradecká was beaten 4-6 5-7 by Flavia Pennetta, despite being 4:1 up in both sets. In the second match Lucie Šafářová lost 0-6 2-6 to Francesca Schiavone. Šafářová is set to face Pennetta in the third singles rubber in the best-of-five tie, which concludes on Sunday.
The head of the Czech Republic’s Constitutional Court, Pavel Rychetský, has said in an interview in Saturday’s edition of the daily Právo that the court’s recent decision regarding pension calculation would most likely not lead to a significant increase of state expenses. Mr. Rychetský said that the court ruling only affects about 8000 of the country’s three million recipients of pensions. Finance Minister Eduard Janota previously said that the change in pension law, which is to take effect in 2011, would lead to added state expenses of tens of millions of crowns. The Constitutional Court ruled that the current calculation scale for pensions of higher-income groups was unconstitutional.
The mayor of Plzeň’s third district ordered that a march of far-right radicals be broken up, only a few minutes after it started on Saturday afternoon. He said the gathering was against the law because some participants were wearing clothing that exhibited imagery and slogans which may be illegal and propagate the suppression of human rights. Some 200 right-wing extremists attended the march, which they said was a show of support to imprisoned members of the movement. A group of roughly fifty anarchists protested the far-right radicals’ gathering. Hundreds of police officers were on duty.
Some 2500 scouts gathered in the Beskydy Mountains on Saturday at a site where five scouts were executed during World War II. The victims, aged between 19 and 26, were shot by German Nazis in 1945. Each year, scouts add stones to a stone mound at the site of the shooting. It was erected in memory of scouts from all over the world who died for a cause. The mound currently measures 40 square meters, with some stones from such distant locations as America or Peru. The five scouts killed were active in the anti-fascist resistance movement. The incident happened just weeks before the end of the war, when some parts of the country had already been freed from Nazi rule by the Soviet army.
Officials of Prague 10 town hall have offered to buy the Ďolíček soccer stadium so that Prague’s Bohemians, which have been playing there for almost 80 years, can stay at Ďolíček instead of having to move to another stadium. Prague 10 town hall officials said they made the offer on Wednesday. The CTY Group, which owns the majority of stocks in the stadium, has not yet responded. The current price of the stadium is estimated at 75 million crowns. Prague 10 hall had earmarked 55 million crowns to purchase the stadium in 2003, but the sale fell through. Fans of the Bohemians team have now started a collection to raise the remaining 20 million crowns. The CTY Group is planning to close Ďolíček due to a necessary renovation that would cost hundreds of millions of crowns, but some say that the real reason behind the closing is the fact that the stadium is in a very valuable real estate location.
The head of the Czech association of market research and public polling agencies has said that he believes the internet-based polling agency SANEP does not use representative samples of the population for its surveys. He added that because SANEP only conducts its polls online, older and less computer-savvy members of the population were less likely to be included. The director of SANEP has dismissed the accusations. He said that in this day age, internet users come from all age groups and that SANEP’s population samples were representative. SANEP specializes in public opinion and election polls.
A unique museum dedicated to aviation has opened in the Moravian city of Olomouc. The museum, which opened its doors to hundreds of visitors for the first time on Saturday, features not only aircraft, such as the MiG-21, but also displays equipment used in the training of pilots. A number of special events will take place on the opening weekend, such as demonstrations of army aviation techniques with plane and helicopter models.
A gorilla baby was born in Prague zoo on Saturday. The newborn is the third baby born to gorilla Kijiva, who last gave birth in 2007. She was brought to Prague zoo from Australia as part of an international breeding project. Gorillas are very popular with visitors and the zoo’s website features a live video stream from its gorilla pavilion.