The Hussite flag was hoisted at Prague Castle on Friday June, 5th to mark the 600th anniversary of the burning at stake of the Czech reformer priest Jan Hus. The event was attended by President Miloš Zeman and the patriarch of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church Tomáš Butta. The flag will remain in place until July 6th, a public holiday commemorating the martyrdom of the reformer priest. Numerous other events are taking place around the country including exhibitions, music events, debates and lectures.
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland is in Prague for talks with Czech top officials. During talks with Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek Mr. Jagland praised the Czech Republic as a staunch defender of human rights in Europe, stressing that the protection of human rights and rule of law were essential for security in Europe. Mr. Jagland, who is also due to meet with Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, is expected to bring up the question of equal access to education for the Romany minority, something the Council of Europe has repeatedly criticized Prague for.
Lucie Šafářová teamed with Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States to beat Andrea Hlaváčková and Lucie Hradecká of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 to reach the doubles final at Rolan Garros. With Friday’s victory Šafářová remains on course to become the first woman in 15 years to win the singles and doubles at the French Open. She plays top-ranked Serena Williams in the singles final on Saturday.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has proposed Kateřina Valachová for the post of education minister. The ctk news agency reports that Valachová, currently deputy minister for human rights and minorities, has likewise received full backing from the prime minister’s Social Democratic Party which holds the education portfolio in the cabinet. The 38-year-old lawyer will replace Marcel Chládek who was sacked by the prime minister last week when it emerged that he had been bullying subordinates. Katerina Valachová’s nomination will need to be approved by President Miloš Zeman who will then set the date for her appointment.
The inhabitants of Prague 6 will not be charged for tap and waste water for the entire month of May, a spokesman for the Prague Waterworks confirmed on Friday. The announcement came following negotiations with Prague City Hall which has been pushing for Prague 6 residents to receive adequate compensation for last months’ water contamination incident which left 32,000 residents without tap water and made hundreds of people ill. The waterworks has promised to compensate all who are able to produce a medical certificate confirming their health problems, but the promise has not stemmed public anger and there have been demands for blanket compensation. The health authorities have also recommended blanket vaccination of children in the district against hepatitis A. GPs are vaccinating children for free as of Friday, June 5th.
Petr Kramný, who is accused of killing his wife and ten-year-old daughter while their were holidaying in Egypt in 2013, is to remain in custody. An Ostrava court refused to release him on bail for fear that he would try to flee the country. Kramný’s wife and daughter were found dead in their hotel room and the initial assumption was that they had been poisoned. The state attorney is now accusing Kramný of having killed them by means of electric shock. Kramný denies the accusations and is sticking to his original story that all three of them suffered food poisoning and he alone recovered. Investigators closed the case in April of this year and the trial should begin in two weeks’ time.
Radek Jiránek has taken up his post at the head of the government Agency for Social Inclusion. Jiránek, who formerly headed the crime prevention department at the Interior Ministry, told Czech Television that his immediate task would be to consolidate the agency and find replacements for the 14 employees who left in a show of solidarity with the agency’s former boss Martin Šimáček who was sacked in April by the Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier. The agency has called for a greater measure of independence in its work.
Two people, a student and teacher, are reported to have died in a fire at recreational facility in Kněžmost, north of Prague in the early hours of Friday. Thirty people were evacuated from the building, which housed a group of students at the time. Three people were seriously injured in the blaze which completely destroyed the top storey of the building. The damage is estimated at 8 million crowns. The cause of the fire is being investigated.
Czech tennis player Lucie Hradecká and Polish partner Marcin Matkowski were runners up in the mixed doubles at the French Open final on Thursday night. The pairing lost 6:7, 1:6 to the US partnership of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Mike Bryan. Hradecká and Matkowski had the opportunity to take the first set with the Pole having two set points on his serve at 5:3 but failed to convert them. The US pair stormed back to take the set in a tie-break and easily won the second set. Hradecká and Czech Andrea Hlaváčková will face Mattek-Sands and countrywoman Lucie Šafářová, on Friday in the women’s doubles semi-finals.
In athletics, javelin thrower Vitězslav Veselý recorded the second best throw of his career to take first place at the Diamond League meeting in Rome on Thursday night. The throw of 88.14 metres was at that stage of the competition around five meters ahead of the rest and the world champion from the Moscow Games in 2013 retired early from the competition. The triumph is Veselý’s first win in a major tournament outside the Czech Republic for nearly a year. He has a reputation for inconsistency but also for pulling out big throws when they count.