The Czech police have called on members of the public to come forward if they have any information – including video recordings – relating to an incident on Friday in which President Václav Klaus was attacked by a man with a plastic pistol. Mr. Klaus was not injured in the incident, which occurred in the north Bohemian town of Chrastava, where he was opening a new bridge. A man of 26 was arrested soon after shooting at the president from very close range with a plastic "airsoft" pistol that fires pellets. The attacker, who told reporters he had been acting in protest at politicians’ disregard for ordinary people, has been charged with disorderly conduct.
There has been criticism of the slow and ineffective response on the part of President Klaus’s bodyguards to Friday’s attack. Security analyst Andor Šándor told the Czech News Agency that the head of state’s security detail had been guilty of a fatal failure, while a former bodyguard to senior state officials said if the attacker had been carrying a real pistol “we would now have a dead president”. Mr. Klaus himself described the situation as an all-round failure. It was reported on Saturday that the police’s internal affairs department was investigating the affair on suspicion of dereliction of duty.
Jana Bobošíková has become the latest candidate to gather the 50,000 signatures required to stand in next January’s presidential election, her Sovereignty party said on Saturday. To date the only other candidates to acquire the necessary signatures have been Miloš Zeman and Jan Fischer, two former prime ministers that polls suggest have the highest chance of making it into the second, run-off round of the Czech Republic’s first direct presidential vote. Mrs. Bobošíková, whose party support Czech “national interests” and have no seats in the country’s Parliament, was nominated unsuccessfully by the Communist Party in the last, parliamentary election. The current Czech president, Václav Klaus, is due to step down next March after two terms.
Běla Gran Jensenová, who lives in Norway, was named Overseas Czech of the Year at a ceremony on Friday night at Prague’s National Theatre organised by Czech Radio and Czech Television. Mrs. Jensenová is the founder of Stonožka (Centipede), an organisation that helps children in hospitals and other institutions in the Czech Republic and a number of other states. She came first in a vote in which listeners and viewers could choose between 20 Czech expatriates that have made notable achievements. Second in the poll was U.S.-based plastic surgeon Bohdan Pomahač, while the Prague-born former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright placed third. The ceremony was held in connection with this year’s Day of Czech Statehood, which was dedicated to Czechs living abroad.
The Czech Ministry of Health is to set up an agency to oversee the purchase of technology and equipment for the country’s publicly-owned hospitals, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Saturday. One reason it is being established is to prevent a situation in which individual hospitals buy the same equipment at different prices, the newspaper said. All purchases over a value of CZK 100,000 will have to go through the new office. Similar systems are in place in other European countries, such as the United Kingdom and Austria.
Architects and theoreticians, many of whom are of the younger generation, are giving free guided tours of significant historical landmarks and contemporary buildings at 45 Bohemian and Moravian cities and towns on Saturday and Sunday, as part of an event dubbed the Day of Architecture. Almost 70 individual activities are being held, including 16 in the capital Prague; these range from tours of some of the city’s estates of prefabricated tower blocks to lectures on the work of German-speaking architects that are today largely forgotten.
Preparations are underway for a showcase of the Czech Republic’s second city, Brno, at the Bohemian National Hall in New York on Monday and Tuesday next week. Organisers say the event, entitled Brno Days–New York, will present the Moravian capital’s commercial and scientific potential, as well as its cultural and architectural heritage, to U.S. investors and businesses. One element of the showcase will be a seminar on Brno’s Villa Tugendhat, a world-renowned functionalist building that reopened earlier this year after extensive renovation work.
The police arrested a man who shot at President Václav Klaus during a bridge-opening ceremony in Chrastava, in northern Bohemia, on Friday afternoon. The 26-year-old man, dressed in camouflage, put his plastic airsfot gun to Mr Klaus’ left side from up close and fired several plastic pellets. The president suffered no injuries but underwent medical test after his return to Prague. After the shooting, the attacker walked away and told TV Nova station he did it in prostest of the government's policies which "starved a third of the nation". He said he was a manual worker, and gave his political affiliation as communist but said he was not active in the party. He was then apprehended by the president’s security service who handed him over to the police. President Klaus, who arrived in Chrastava after attending an event marking the holiday of St Wenceslas earlier in the day, displayed annoyance at his security service, and said the attacker deserved "a few slaps".
Several Czech politicians condemned Friday’s attack on Václav Klaus. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said people had the right to express their views but that these expressions should not exceed acceptable norms. Communist leader Vojtěch Filip said his party distanced themselves from the attack, and condemned violence. Social Democrat deputy chair Lubomír Zaorálek said the attack was “unbelievable” and blamed the president’s security service for letting the attacker close to Mr Klaus.
Three people intoxicated with methanol remain in critical condition in hospitals in the north-east of the country. A 43-year-old man, who was earlier this week hospitalized in Havířov, showed signs of improvement on Friday, doctors said. Another two people – a 60-year-old and a 58-year-old men – are in an Ostrava hospital; their condition has been reported as stable. 26 people have died in the recent outbreak of methanol poisoning in the country while dozens have been hospitalized.
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