Demonstrations for and against immigration took place on Saturday afternoon at Prague’s Wenceslas Square. Around 1,000 are estimated to have taken part in a second demonstration against immigrants and the EU in the afternoon. It was backed by the far right National Democracy movement. They were faced by a group calling for solidarity with refugees. Police kept the two sides apart. Chants of ‘Czech Republic for the Czechs’ and ‘You will hang’ were shouted at the pro-immigration demonstrators. Police intervened at one stage to check the identity of some of the demonstrators. Police had been criticized for their laxity when a mock gallows was carried during another anti-immigrant protest a few weeks ago. An internal investigation later cleared them of blame.
The West Bohemian town of Bečov nad Teplou on Saturday celebrated the 30th anniversary of the rediscovery of the Shrine of St. Maur, a magnificent gold plated and jewelled ark that was rediscovered at Bečov castle in 1985. The American who played a crucial part in the shrine’s rediscovery, Danny Douglas, was present at the celebrations on Saturday. Douglas was contracted by the Belgian noble family that owned the medieval shrine and buried it under floorboards at the castle chapel when they were forced to quit the country in 1945, to recover it. But a slip up allowed the Communist era secret police to get to the treasure first. Douglas told Radio Prague that he is expecting full official recognition as the finder by Czech authorities by the end of the year.
Five Czechs have disappeared in Eastern Lebanon not far from the Syrian border, according to the local English language daily, The Daily Star. The Czech Foreign Ministry in Prague said Czech foreign ministry officials in Lebanon are trying to verify the details. According to the paper, passports, bags, money, and valuables believed to belong to the Czechs were found in an abandoned taxi. The local taxi driver had also disappeared from the scene. The Czechs are reported to be aged between 25 and 47. Their identities were not revealed. Cases of mass kidnapping have occurred in the past in the region .
The D1 motorway between Brno and Vyškov was closed in one direction for over an hour following an accident involving five cars on Saturday morning. Some of the victims were trapped in their vehicles and had to be cut free by firemen. A rescue helicopter took some of the injured to hospital. The accident occurred around 20 kilometres from Brno and resulted in long tailbacks before one lane of the motorway could be reopened.
Russian state television has refused to sell the rights to Czech and Slovak television to screen a controversial documentary about the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the Czech News Agency has reported. Czech Television launched talks about buying rights to screen the documentary last month with a view to screening it on August 21, the anniversary of the invasion which ended reforms of the Prague Spring. The documentary sparked protests in the Czech Republic and Slovakia for taking the long time Soviet line that the invasion was ‘brotherly help’ aimed at preventing a NATO planned coup in former Czechoslovakia.
In football, Czech midfielder Vladimír Darida is moving to top German league club Hetha Berlin from Freiburg, which was relegated to the second division at the end of last season. Terms between the two clubs have been agreed but a final deal for the four year contract has still to be signed, Darida’s agent confirmed. The 25 year old player had indicated that he did not want to play second division football, sparking interest from several top German clubs. Darida signed for Freiburg from Viktoria Plzeň two years ago.
Police have begun to investigate the incident where eggs were thrown at President Miloš Zeman at a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution last November as a criminal incident. Previously the incident at Prague’s Albertov had been treated as a misdemeanour which could have been punished with a fine. The change was reported by the daily Mladá Fronta Dnes on Saturday. It said the switch followed instructions from the state prosecutor. Three people were initially investigated for suspected offences after the incident. The offence of disturbing the peace might now apply and carries a sentence of up to two years in prison. The head of state had sparked opposition from comments backing Russia and his use of offensive language on state radio.
South Korean soprano singer Sumi Jo and Italian tenor Danilo Formaggio accompanied by the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra will launch the 24th Český Krumlov International Music Festival on Friday night. The opening concert will have a largely Franco-Italian flavour with compositions by Verdi, Puccini, and Bizet. The festival runs until August 8. Sumi Jo has produced around 50 DVDs.
Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek on Friday officially open what is believed to be the world’s first power plant based on a former coal mine. The ceremony took place around 500 metres below the surface. The unique power plant at Ostrava was the result of four-and-a-half year’s work by a consortium of local companies and institutions which benefitted from state subsidies. The pumped storage power plant works on the principle that water is pumped to water storage containers near the surface during off-peak hours and then released to power generators for peak electricity production as it descends around 500 metres.
A dispute has broken out in the Czech Catholic Church over the recent property settlement at Prague castle between President Miloš Zeman and Cardinal Dominik Duka. A memorandum concerning the return of two properties to the Catholic Church was signed on Thursday with a final deal due to be sealed by the end of the year. Duka’s predecessor in the top post of the Czech church, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, has slammed the initial agreement as illegal and in breach of democratic principles. In particular, he criticised the conditions attached to the return of the properties which include their repair and use for public purposes within five years. Cardinal Vlk said that the restitution agreement made no provision for such conditions to be laid down.
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