A 36-year-old man has attempted to commit suicide by lighting his jacket
on fire on Sunday afternoon after pouring an unknown flammable liquid on
himself. Police officers who were standing nearby helped put out the
flames. The man is currently being treated for possible injuries. His
motives have not been clarified yet.
The incident happened near the National Museum building on Prague's Wenceslas Square close to the spot where a young student Jan Palach lit himself on fire on January 16, 1969 in protest against the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. Palach died three days later.
President Václav Klaus has condemned the presidential candidate Karel Schwarzenberg for his criticism of the Beneš decrees. The president told an online news server novinky.cz on Saturday evening that he cannot forgive the foreign minister for doubting the post-World War Two "settlement" instituted by president Eduard Beneš. Mr Schwarzenberg said in a presidential debate on Thursday that the deportation of Germans from Czechoslovakia at the end of the war would be considered a gross violation of human rights by today's standards. Responding to the president's statement, the presidential candidate said he feels the matter of the Beneš decrees to have been settled, and that nobody's property is at stake. Mr Schwarzenberg thus refered to Mr Klaus's long-term efforts to prevent descendants of Sudeten Germans from making claims on Czech land and property.
MPs from the Public Affairs party have put forward a proposal to free those seeking damages as a result of the amnesty from court fees. They also propose that plaintiffs would be able to request free legal counsel form the state. Chairman of the Civic Democratic MPs Marek Benda is sceptical of the proposal, while the opposition Social Democrats came out against the provision of free legal counsel.
In a south Bohemian town of České Velenice an Austrian man blew himself up with a bomb on Saturday. The 42-year-old had the bomb strapped to his body. No other person was hurt and no property was damaged. Police have not yet determined the origin of the explosive or the reason why the man committed suicide in Velenice.
Concerts will take place in more than 60 locations across the Czech Republic on Sunday night in support of one of the presidential candidates, Karel Schwarzenberg. Famous Czech acts like Tata Bojs, Čechomor and others will appear in support of the second-place winner of the first round of the presidential elections. A number of artists including Jiřina Bohdalová and Lucie Bílá have in the past weeks come out in support of the other presidential candidate Miloš Zeman.
A few hundred people opposed to the current government gathered in the National House in Prague's Vinohrady district on Saturday to listen to speakers offer alternatives to the current system of government. Among the speakers was the former head of the Public Affairs party Vít Barta, senator Tomio Okamura and the economist Pavel Kohout and representatives of the civic movement Holešovská výzva.
Tennis player Tomáš Berdych has advanced into the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on Sunday, beating the South African Kevin Anderson. Berdych, who has not lost a single set in the first Grand Slam of the year, dominated over Anderson with the final score 6:3, 6:2, 7:6. The sixth seeded Czech will most likely face the world number one Novak Djoković on Tuesday. The two faced each other 12 times, and Bedych beat the Serb won only one match at the 2010 Wimbledon.
The two presidential candidates - Miloš Zeman and Karel Schwarzenberg - faced off in a second televized debate on Friday evening, this time on the private Prima Family channel. The atmosphere was more laid back than in the Czech Television debate the night before, but candidates took the opportunity to take stabs at each other. Mr Zeman came back to the issue of the Beneš decrees and the expulsion of Sudeten Germans at the end of World War two, which Mr Schwarzenberg described on Thurdsay as a gross violation of human rights according to today’s standards. The former prime minister strongly retorted in the Friday debate that describing a former Czechoslovak president as a war criminal is not presidential. According to some polls, Mr Zeman has been gaining more ground over his opponent in the last week, after the two finished less than a percentage point apart in the first round of the elections.
During the presidential debate, Prima Family broadcasted a video where the Czech first lady Livia Klausová endorsed Miloš Zeman. Mrs Klausová said she does not want her successor to speak only German, refering to Karel Schwarzenberg’s wife who does not speaks Czech. She also said that Mr Zeman has spent his whole life in the Czeech Republic and has a relationship to the country and its people, echoing her husband’s remarks from a few days ago.