An unidentified perpetrator threw a Molotov cocktail into the house of a Romany family in the Central Bohemian village of Krty late on Tuesday night. The residents of the house were able to extinguish the bottle immediately; one of them was lightly injured in the process. Police have not yet confirmed a racial motive. The perpetrator or perpetrators could face prison sentences of up to 12 years. Several similar attacks against Romanies have taken place in the Czech Republic in recent years, most recently in the Central Bohemian village of Býchory. No one was injured in that attack.
The far-right Workers’ Party of Social Justice is planning to protest a parade organized by lesbians and gays as part of the Prague Pride festival on Saturday. According to the party’s chairman, Tomáš Vandas, the parade is nothing but a celebration of homosexuality, which is not natural and never has been. Mr. Vandas also criticizes Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, under whose auspices the five-day Prague Pride festival is taking place. According to Czeslaw Walek, the chairman of the festival board, the organizers have been discussing safety issues with police. Last week, presidential aide Petr Hájek labeled the parade a march of deviants and was backed in his criticism by President Václav Klaus.
Hundreds of Catholics from Poland and the Czech Republic gathered at the Czech Sněžka mountain for the annual St Lawrence’s Pilgrimage on Wednesday. Among them was President Václav Klaus, who due to an Achilles’ heel injury was not able to climb the mountain on foot and instead was driven up to its peak by car. The Czech president regularly participates in the event and last year met with his Polish counterpart on the occasion of the pilgrimage. This year’s weather conditions were particularly bad, with temperatures of two degrees Celsius, rain and winds with speeds of up to 82 km/h observed on the peak of the Czech Republic’s highest mountain on Wednesday.
An NGO providing environmental legal counseling has called for the dismissal of a regional police chief as well as the commanding officer in a recent police action against protesters in the Šumava National Park on the grounds of police brutality. According to the NGO, officers removed activists holding a blockade in the nature reserve to prevent felling of bark-beetle infested trees in a manner that was more brutal than necessary and in violation of human rights. Several activists who suffered police brutality have reported their experiences to the NGO, among them the head of the South Bohemian branch of the Green Party, Jiří Guth. At the weekend, the Czech Helsinki Committee also criticized the behavior of police officers in removing protesters as unnecessarily cruel.
In related news, the blockade against the felling of bark-beetle infested trees in the Šumava National Park continued on Wednesday, with 45 activists trying to prevent trees from being logged. Some forty police officers and about 90 forest workers were also at the site. According to park management, the logging effort is nearing its completion, but a spokesperson refused to give the exact date when the felling of some 5000 trees is expected to wrap up. While the blockade continued in the national park, police and protesters involved in the event gave news conferences in Plzen and Prague, respectively.
The Constitutional Court decided on Wednesday that membership in the Communist Party before the fall of the totalitarian regime in itself does not prevent a judge from being able to rule without bias. According to the verdict, passed in the case of a Sudetengerman plaintiff who argued that a Hradec Králové judge was unable to rule in his case in an unbiased way due to being a former Communist party member, mere membership in the Communist Party before the fall of communism is not enough to disqualify a judge from performing his duties. Among the ideologies propagated by the party was hatred towards Sudetengermans, therefore the plaintiff argued that the judge was prejudiced towards him. According to the Constitutional Court, the fact that the Hradec Králové judge was a party member does not automatically imply that she despises Sudetengermans and is unable to make an unbiased decision in the plaintiff’s case.
The Czech government has announced it will try to reduce fatalities resulting from car accidents by 50 percent by 2020. On Wednesday, a strategy aiming to improve security on Czech roads and highways was approved in the lower house of Parliament. Its main aim is to bring the number of deaths on Czech roads below the European average. In 2010, 753 people were killed in traffic accidents in the Czech Republic. In addition, the government is also seeking to help prevent injuries resulting from traffic accidents.
According to a fresh survey published by the Public Opinion Research Centre, the majority of Czechs like their job. Some 14 percent responded that they were very satisfied with their place of employment, while 43 said they were rather content with where they work. Two-fifths were undecided. Among those who said they were happy with their job were Czechs in management positions or working in highly qualified workers. By contrast, among those who were least satisfied with their work were menial laborers. The survey also indicated that satisfaction with one’s job is directly related to the standard of one’s salary. Nearly a fifth of Czechs polled said that they feared losing their job.
American astronaut Andrew Feustel, in the Czech Republic for a lecture series along with his wife Indira, visited former president Václav Havel on Tuesday. Mr Havel, who had been in poor health recently, is currently recuperating at his cottage. Mr Havel’s secretary, Sabina Tančevová, however, said that the former president was feeling better; she also described Tuesday’s meeting as unique. Andrew Feustel took part in the recent final mission of the space shuttle Endeavour and made international headlines by taking a plush toy of the famous Czech animated character Krtek (Little Mole) with him on the mission.
The famous Czech ice-hockey defenseman Oldřich Macháč died at the age
of 65 on Wednesday morning. The three-time World Champion had been
suffering from heart disease for a period of time.
Oldřich Macháč, who was most of the time paired with his friend and team mate František Pospíšil, played in nearly 300 national team games for Czechoslovakia and scored a total of 37 goals. He represented the country at 11 IHF Championships and three Olympic tournaments and was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999.