Some 200 people attended a funeral ceremony for a 22-year-old Romany man
that took place in Tanvald on Saturday. The man was shot in the north
Bohemian town on New Year’s Day. After an emotional service in the local
church, hundreds of people, among them Romanies from across the country,
accompanied the man’s coffin to the cemetery, where a minute of silence
in honor of the murder victim was held.
Police presence in Tanvald was heightened during the funeral and local
police forces were monitoring the situation closely. The funeral ended
without any clashes between Roma and right-wing extremists, who some feared
would travel to the town. Tensions between Czechs and Romanies have been
building in Tanvald in recent years.
On New Year’s Day, a 63-year-old man shot the 22-year-old Romany man and his 24-year old brother, killing one and wounding the other. Police are investigating the case and have stated that there is no evidence of racial motives for the murder.
Former prime minister Jan Fischer has confirmed that he is planning to run
for the office of president if the Senate approves a proposal for direct
presidential elections. In an interview in the Saturday edition of the
Czech daily Mladá front dnes, Mr. Fischer said that he would most likely
be submitting his candidacy as an independent candidate, but was also open
to the possibility of teaming up with a political party. The proposal for
direct presidential elections is pending a February vote in the upper house
of Parliament. If it is approved, Czechs would be able to elect their
president directly for the first time in 2013.
Mr. Fischer is currently the vice-president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. A statistician by profession, he headed the interim government which preceded Petr Nečas’s right-of-center coalition that took office in July 2010.
The annual Forum 2000 conference, which was co-founded by the late Czech
president Václav Havel, will continue taking place after Mr. Havel’s
death. The director of the Forum 2000 conference, Oldřich Černý, said
that the late president’s legacy will retain its importance. He added
that it remains to be seen how often the conference will take place and
what form it will take. Forum 2000 will also be collaborating with the
Václav Havel Library, he said.
The Forum 2000 conferences have been held in Prague since 1997, bringing prominent thought leaders, Nobel laureates, and former and acting politicians to the Czech capital. Among the conference’s speakers in the past were the Dalai Lama, Shimon Peres and Bill Clinton. Its mission is to map the globalization process and to note its positive results as well as the perils encountered by an increasingly interconnected world.
A family home in the village of Bohuňov in the Svitavy district caught fire in the night from Friday to Saturday. No one was injured. The fire caused damages of half a million Czech crowns. Firefighters have said that the fire may have been the result of arson. They were able to extinguish it within half an hour of arriving at the site.
Wimbledon champion Petra Kvítova and teammate Tomáš Berdych had straight-set victories over their French opponents at the Hopman Cup in the Australian Perth on Saturday, giving the Czech Republic its second Hopman Cup title. Kvítova won the last three games of the first set and went on to beat the French Marion Bartoli 7-5, 6-1, while Berdych beat French Richard Gasquet 7-6 (0), 6-4. This is second time the Czech Republic has won the eight-country fixed-teams title; its first victory at the Hopman Cup took place in 1994, when Jana Novotná and Petr Korda beat Germany in the final.
Czech speed skater Martina Sablíková, world-record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters speed skating discipline, on Saturday won the 1,500 meters at the European speed skating championships in Budapest. She came in at 2 minutes and 3.64 seconds, a score that put her ahead of the Dutch Linda de Vries and the Russian Yuliya Skokova. Sablíková is the defending European champion and has won the title three times. She leads the overall standings. The title will be decided Sunday in the 5,000 meter race.
In the eighth, second-to-last pursuit at the Tour de Ski, Czech cross-country skier Lukáš Bauer collected bonus points in the sprint and managed to improve his standing in the overall race to fifth. The Czech Martin Jakš came in 14th in the 20-kilometer pursuit, which started in the Italian Val di Fiemme on Saturday. The Norwegian Eldar Roenning could celebrate his very first stage win of this Tour de Ski, finishing in front of Alex Harvey and Dario Bologna. The men will have their last stage of Tour de Ski tomorrow, with the final climb up Alpe Cermis.
The husband of Ukraine’s jailed opposition leader Julija Tymoshenko has
been granted political asylum in the Czech Republic. Czech Interior
Minister Jan Kubice confirmed the news at a press briefing on Friday
afternoon, saying the request had been filed several months ago.
The former Ukrainian prime minister was sentenced to seven years in prison last October for abuse of office in what the European Union denounced as a politically-motivated trial. The asylum granted to her husband Oleksander Tymoshenko is the second high profile case the country has dealt with in the past 12 months. Last year it granted asylum to a former economics minister in the Tymoshenko cabinet.
Ukraine’s ruling Party of the Regions says the request for asylum was financially motivated, claiming that Tymoshenko’s husband wanted to transfer abroad funds that his wife received from political sponsors.
Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka is among 22 archbishops elevated to the rank of cardinal by Pope Benedict on Friday. The pope announced their appointment following an Epiphany Mass in the Vatican and will elevate them to their new rank in a formal ceremony on February 18. The sixty-eight year old Dominik Duka is the country’s second living cardinal alongside Miloslav Vlk. The head of the Czech Catholic Church will thus join the conclave that will one day help elect the Pope’s successor.
Czech women with silicone breast implants manufactured by a French firm accused of using unapproved industrial-grade material should have them replaced, a Health Ministry spokesman said on Friday. The recommendation follows a consultative meeting of a commission of experts who met to weigh up the risks. Women who refuse to undergo repeat surgery have been advised to have regular check-ups. It is not yet clear who will finance the operations, though the country’s largest health insurer VZP said Thursday it would cover the cost of repeat surgery for all women who undertook it for health reasons. An estimated 2,000 Czech women received the risky implants.