President Václav Klaus and Prime Minister Petr Nečas, along with Cardinal Dominik Duka and military officials, on Tuesday celebrated the 67th anniversary of the end of World War II at Prague’s Vítkov memorial. A ceremony was held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The national anthem was followed by a minute of silence and a three-gun salute. The president as well as war veterans laid down wreaths at the memorial. Dozens of Prague residents were in attendance. Across the capital and in several other cities, similar commemorative events marking the national holiday are taking place.
In related news, President Václav Klaus on Tuesday appointed three new generals on Tuesday. Among them are major general Petr Pavel, who is the new general lieutenant. Media have been speculating that he may become the army‘s future chief of staff. In his speech, Mr Klaus said that during his time in office, he named 108 new generals, 95 of whom were soldiers. He also commented on cuts to the military budget in recent years.
According to a fresh poll by the Median agency, former prime minister Jan Fischer as well as the economist Jan Švejnar are the two most likely contenders for the post of president in next year’s first-ever direct presidential elections. Fischer was the top pick for about a third of respondents, while 17.5 percent of those polled said they would give their vote to Švejnar. Former prime minister Miloš Zeman came in third with 11 percent; Karel Schwarzenberg, the current foreign minister and head of the TOP 09 party, was fourth in the poll. Some 70 percent of Czechs responded that they would go vote in the presidential elections.
The actor Michal Pešek died at the age of 53 in the Netherlands on Monday. Pešek had been suffering from illness for a long time. He played in numerous TV series, such as Zkoušky z dospělosti and was a member of Prague’s Vinohrady Theater until 1990. After his acting career, Pešek was active in business and politics. He was a deputy for the Civic Forum, which was established during the Velvet Revolution. Later, he owned a rock club and an advertising agency. He was born in Prague in 1959. His funeral is set to take place in the Czech capital on May 15.
For his animated movie Alois Nebel, Czech director Tomáš Luňák was awarded the prestigious main prize at the 11th AniFest in the South Bohemian Třebon, a showcase of animated film. Luňák’s film is based on Jaroslav Rudiš’s eponymous graphic novel. Some 280 films were shown at this year’s edition of the festival, which features international submissions in the animation genre. Among the other winners were the French film Picture in the category children’s movie and the Belgian-French submission Ach, Willy in the shorts competition. The legendary Czech animator Zdeněk Miler, father of the famous Czech cartoon mole, was given a posthumous prize for his lifetime achievement at the opening of the festival on Thursday. This year’s edition of AniFest drew nearly 20,000 visitors.
About a fifth of working age Czechs reported long-term medical problems last year. According to information from people aged 15 to 64 let analysed by the Czech Statistics Office, complaints most frequently involved back, muscular system, heart and circulation problems. The office’s calculations suggest that more than 1.34 million Czechs may have health problems lasting longer than one year. About 20% of female respondents cited health problems compared to some 17% of men. While such long-term problems were reported by every fifteenth just under 30 years of age, that statistic rose to every ninth person 10 years older. People aged 25 to 29 were most likely to complain of long-lasting depression or psychological problems.
The Czech Republic beat Norway 4:3 at the World Ice Hockey Championships on Monday night. After a penalty-riddled first period, Aleš Hemský scored two goals, including the shoot-out winner. Two other goals came from David Krejčí and Michal Frolík. The shoot-out in the Czech Republic vs. Norway game was the first of the 2012 IIHF. On Thursday, the Czech Republic faces Latvia.
A 30-year old man became the victim of a traffic accident near the South Bohemian town of Písek on Tuesday. He was in a car with a 28-year-old driver who crashed into a tree. The driver survived the accident. According to a police spokeswoman, he was under the influence of alcohol. Another man was killed on a road connecting the South Bohemian city of České Budějovice with the municipality Dubná. He was crossing the road on foot when he was hit by a car. The man was already dead when paramedics arrived at the site of the accident.
The Czech Social Democratic Party has welcomed the victory of François Hollande in the French presidential election. Party leader Bohuslav Sobotka said the French socialists’ resumption of the presidency after 17 years was a strong encouragement for social democracy in Europe, and a sign of hope and a turnaround. He added that Hollande would have to lead a tough fight to implement growth measures against those in Europe who have favoured radical cuts. Czech Social Democrats would support him in this struggle, he said. President Václav Klaus and Prime Minister Petr Nečas also congratulated Mr Hollande his win. Mr Nečas warned France against any step away from budget responsibility, saying it would be a mistake to deepen debt and budget deficits in order to raise growth. François Hollande gained a clear lead in the second round of polling Sunday evening, making incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy the first one-term president of France since 1981.
Ombudsman Pavel Varvařovský has criticised psychiatric facilities for impeding contact between child patients and their parents. In his report for 2011, the ombudsman writes that the children’s stay in such facilities does not mean that contact with their parents can be prohibited or limited. One such facility reportedly allowed telephone contact between children and their parents only for an hour and a half period during which 25 children had one phone available. Mobile phones were not allowed in a number of institutions. The ombudsman plans to deliver a summary report on children’s psychiatric facilities, including his recommendations, this year.