Close to two hundred people attended a commemorative ceremony for the victims of communism at Prague’s Motol crematorium on Saturday. The event, organized by the Confederation of Political Prisoners, was attended by leading top officials, former dissidents and families of the deceased. Speaking near a mass grave where the communists buried those whom they executed, tortured to death or shot at the country’s borders, the speaker of the lower house of Parliament, Miroslava Nemcová, said the past must never be forgotten and warned against efforts to belittle the crimes of the communist regime.
An ultra light plane carrying two people crashed into a training facility near Vrchlabi Airport, eastern Bohemia, shortly after mid-day on Saturday. The pilot and passenger, both German nationals, suffered serious injuries and were airlifted to hospital in Hradec Kralove. The training facility used by the airport was empty at the time of the accident and no other injuries have been reported.
Close to 100 Romany representatives from around the Czech Republic are meeting in Prague to finalize preparations for the establishment of the Romany Democratic Party. The head of the preparatory committee Miroslav Tancos told the CTK news agency the circumstances of the Romany minority would not improve unless it was represented in politics. There are around 250,000 Romanies living in the Czech Republic and a third of them live in slums. A vast number of Romanies are unemployed. An earlier Romany party, set up in 2005, was dissolved by the Supreme Administrative court two years ago, for failing to meet the conditions stipulated by law.
Extremist parties in the Czech Republic have managed to rally more supporters through social networks, according to an Interior Ministry report to be debated by the government next Wednesday. Extremist parties both right and left are using the Internet to drum up support especially among the young generation, the report says. Right-wing extremists in particular have increased their activities through social networking, holding 48 neo-Nazi concerts in 2012 as opposed to just 18 the previous year. Right wing extremists also maintain close contacts with similar organizations abroad, particularly in neighbouring Germany and Slovakia.
President Miloš Zeman is reported to be feeling better and plans to attend the opening of the Prague Spring Music Festival on Sunday night, his spokeswoman Hana Burianová said on Saturday. The president’s office reported on Friday that President Zeman was suffering from a viral infection and would need a few days’ rest. Mr. Zeman appeared unwell and was visibly unstable at Thursday’s ceremony of bringing the crown jewels out of storage, sparking speculation regarding the cause of the problem.
Preparatory work for extensive repairs on the D1 highway from Prague to Brno has had to be postponed due to heavy rain. Workers were due to mark restrictions for drivers on several stretches of the road in preparation for channeling traffic into a single lane. The country’s main highway will remain open to traffic throughout its reconstruction due to concerns that de-tours would immeasurably burden surrounding towns and villages. The speed limit along the stretches where work is underway will be lowered to 80 km per hour.
A passenger train en route from Březová nad Svitavou to Křenovice, in southern Moravia, caught fire in the early hours of Saturday. All passengers and crew were evacuated in time. Although fire fighters were at the site of the accident within minutes the fire is reported to have caused considerable damage, now estimated at around half a million crowns. The cause of the accident is being investigated. The route was re-opened to traffic by 9am.
Petr Mlsna, head of the government’s legislative council, who was nominated for the post of judge of the European Court of Justice has not been approved for the post by the respective EU committee. Mlsna was nominated for the post by the Czech government to replace Judge Irena Pelikánová, whose six-year term in office expires at the end of August. The position will need to be filled in early September. The Nečas cabinet will now have to make a new nomination. A committee of former EU judges evaluates the candidates' legal education, work experience, language proficiency and personality.
The Ukrainian branch of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights has called on the Czech Republic not to extradite a Russian manager wanted for embezzlement in the Ukraine on the grounds that she could face torture, the daily Lidové noviny reports. Tatjana Pareskevic, who has been charged with embezzling 5 million dollars in the Ukraine, claims that she is victim of a politically motivated trial. The Czech Foreign Ministry has also spoken out against her extradition. The Prague Supreme Court recently approved it on the grounds that it had received assurances from Ukrainian officials that she would get a fair trial. Paraskevic has appealed the verdict. She was arrested in the Czech Republic last spring while visiting a spa resort for health reasons.
Hundreds of people have been lining up to view the Czech crown jewels which are now on display in the Vladislav Hall of Prague Castle. The crown jewels only go on public display on special occasions. This year they are being shown for ten days on the occasion of the election of President Miloš Zeman. The crown jewels include the St. Wenceslas crown, which Charles IV had made in 1347, the coronation crucifix also from the 14th century, as well as the royal sceptre and the royal apple from the first half of the 16 th century. Thousands of people are expected to view these symbols of Czech statehood in the next ten days.