Anti-communist resistance fighter Ctirad Mašín has died at the age of 81. The older of the two Mašín brothers succumbed to a prolonged illness in the company of family members in Cleveland in the United States. The brothers are known for their armed resistance to the Communist regime during the early 1950s and their killing of several officers of the secret police, one of whom was unarmed, during their escape from the country. Mašín then served in the American army for five years before becoming a private businessman. The brothers remain subjects of controversy today, with some saying they should be decorated for their deeds, while others consider them murderers.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas highly praised Ctirad Mašín on Saturday, in response to news of his death. The Prime Minister said Mašín was a courageous man who he greatly respected, and called his resistance to the totalitarian dictatorship heroic. His legacy, he said, should be remembered. Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra also addressed the news, saying Mašín deserved the respect due a hero, and that he thought it sad that he did not live to achieve full personal distinction. The Czech Senate has repeatedly recommended such a distinction, though left-wing parties have invariably rejected them.
The first Prague Pride march in support of sexual minorities set off across the city centre on Saturday, the main event of the five-day Tolerance Festival. Roughly 5,000 rainbow-clad marchers met at Náměstí Republiky at 1 p.m. and set out for Střelecký Ostrov, where a music festival will be held. Thousands of bystanders also stopped to watch the parade. The prcession was met by a small group of some 40 right-wing extremists at Jungmannově náměstí, some of whom hurled plastic bottles and insults; no other conflicts occurred. A counter-event organised by young Christian Democrats saw about 200 and ended before the gay pride march began.
Civic Democratic officials are largely unbothered by their colleague Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda’s support for the Prague Pride parade, according to the newspaper Právo. The daily reports that only a part of the senior governing party agrees with their former chairman, President Klaus, that the mayor was wrong to allow the march to be held under his auspices, and that such a decision was unbecoming of a conservative politician. Officials canvassed by the paper concurred that the disputes over the issue were needlessly vitriolic.
The police have apprehended a man they believe to be responsible for a triple murder that took place in the central Bohemian village of Mukařov on Wednesday. Witnesses saw the suspect stab a 48-year-old man on the street; the police later found the bodies of another man and a woman in a nearby house. The victims are believed to have been relatives, but the motive behind the murders is unclear. The manhunt included dozens of police, canines and a helicopter search. The suspect could not however be questioned as he apparently suffered a breakdown during interrogation and was taken to the hospital.
The band Psí vojáci has announced it has broken up after more than 30 years on the Czech music scene. A statement on the band's website cites personal and health reasons for the split. Frontman Filip Topol has long faced a number of health difficulties and has undergone several operations in recent years. Public performances have been infrequent in recent times. Topol founded Psí Vojáci (“The Dog Warriors”) with schoolmates when he was only 13. The band enjoyed huge popularity after 1989 and have maintained a large cult following since. They have published some two dozen albums and underground recordings from the Communist era, when they were not allowed to record.
Czech tennis players have fared poorly in Canada, with two main hopefuls falling out of tournaments in Toronto and Montreal. Tomáš Berdych left the Masters series in Montreal in the quarter finals after losing to Serbian Janek Tipsarević 4:6, 4:6. Lucie Šafářová meanwhile dropped the quarterfinal round in Toronto, suffering a defeat to former world no. 1 Serena Williams; the score was 6:4, 3:6, 2:6. It was the Czech Fed Cup player’s fourth loss to Williams, a 13-time grand slam winner.
Organized crime in the Czech Republic has infiltrated state administration as well as the police and judiciary, according to a report by the country’s interior ministry released on Friday. In its strategy for fighting organized crime, the ministry warns that criminal groups will attempt to push their members to elected positions. The gangs presently gain access to both the private and public spheres through extensive corruption. To fight organized crime more efficiently, the ministry suggests joint investigation teams should be established that will include tax administrators and other specialists. The Interior Ministry also plans to increase the expertise of police officers.
The police on Friday released the identikit of a man suspected of a triple murder that took place in the central Bohemian village of Mukařov on Wednesday. The man, who is on the run, was described as being around 30 years old, 180 cm tall, stocky, with an oval face and short dark hair. Witnesses saw the suspect stab a 48-year-old man; the police later found the bodies of another man and a woman in a nearby house. The victims are believed to have been relatives but the motive behind the murders is unclear.
Forty Czech soldiers who recently returned from missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo were decorated with the Medal for Service Abroad at a military air base in Náměšť nad Oslavou on Friday. Around half of them were pilots who came back after serving four months in Kabul where they trained local forces; two of them suffered injuries during their mission. More than 7,000 Czech troops served in foreign missions last year; currently there are some 700 soldiers deployed in Afghanistan.