Around 500 people turned out for the unveiling of a statue of Jobst of Moravia in Brno on Wednesday on the occasion of the Czechoslovak Independence Day. The eight-metre statue of the Margrave of Moravia, who ruled the region since 1375 until 1410, was created by sculptor Jaroslav Róna, and cost around 7 million crowns (some 260,000 euros). Another statue was unveiled in České Budějovice in South Bohemia to King Otakar II, who established the town in 1264.
Over 870 soldiers have taken a simultaneous oath of service in a ceremony that marked the Czechoslovak Independence Day. The ceremony took place at Prague's Hradčanské Square and was attended by the Czech president Miloš Zeman and defence minister Martin Stropnický and other dignitaries. On the same day, president Zeman promoted several soldiers and other officials, including Prague fire corps head Roman Hlinovský, head of Foreign Intelligence Service Jiří Šašek and head of counter-intelligence Security Information Service Jiří Lang.
Some three thousand people have been demonstrating against immigrants in Prague, Brno and several other cities across the Czech Republic on Wednesday. Most of the gatherings were organised by the initiative Block against Islam and the populist part Dawn-National Coalition. In Prague, police in riot gear had to step in to separate the anti-Islamic demonstrators from the supporters of migration. Among the people attending the gathering in Prague were represenatives of the German anti-Islamic movement Pegida, including the leader Lutz Bachmann. The biggest gathering, attended by some 1,500 people, took place in Brno.
Czech finance minister Andrej Babiš has objected to an article published by The Washigton Post on October 16, which called him a pro-Russian politician. In the article, called ʻRussia's new kind of friendsʼ, its author Anne Applebaum wrote that politicians such as Andrej Babiš, Miloš Zeman or Slovak prime minister Fico frequently echoed or repeated Russian slogans and pointed out that all three argued against Western sanctions on Russia. In a response published in Washington Post last week, Mr Babiš said that his and his party’s policy had been clearly pro-Western and pro-NATO. He also protested against being lumped together with politicians such as Miloš Zeman and Václav Klaus.
The 19th annual documentary film festival in Jihlava, the biggest event of its kinds in Eastern and Central Europe, got underway on Tuesday night. Over the next five days, the festival will offer hundreds of film screenings as well as some highly-anticipated guests, such as Masha Alyokhina of the female punk protest group Pussy Riot or the Syrian immigrant Osama Mohsen, a Syrian refugee who came to international attention after being tripped by a Hungarian camerawoman while holding his child. Sixteen Czech films will compete for the main award in the Czech Joy Section.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová overcame her compatriot Lucie Šafářová 7-5,7-5 at the WTA Finals in Singapore on Wednesday. Czech number one Kvitová currently holds a 8-0 career record against Šafářová. Both Czechs are fighting to make it out of their four-player group into the semi-finals of the tournament, after losing 0:2 on sets in their opening matches. Šafářová will lose the chance to fight her place in the semi-finals, in case Germany's Angelique Kerber wins her match against Garbine Muguruza of Spain.
Wednesday, October 28, marks the 97th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia, with several events being held across the country. President Miloš Zeman laid wreaths at the National Monument at Prague’s Vítkov hill, along with PM Bohuslav Sobotka, the Archbishop of Prague, Dominik Duka, and several other government ministers and officials. On Wednesday evening, President Zeman is set to hand out state honours at a ceremony at Prague Castle. The expected recipients include former Czech football international Pavel Nedvěd, the founder of the babybox system in the Czech Republic Ludvík Hess and pop singer and former actor Václav Neckář. Several university rectors have refused to attend the ceremony in solidarity with two of their colleagues who had not been invited over disputes with the president.
Veteran singer Karel Gott has cancelled concert scheduled for the near future after being taken to hospital. An announcement about the cancellations was posted on his Facebook page without further details. The statement asked that his privacy be respected. Doctors told the singer, who is 76, to reduce his public activities after he suffered from heart arrhythmia in the summer.
Opposition deputies on Tuesday criticised Finance Minister Andrej Babiš for being absent from an extraordinary lower house session debating his proposal to increase taxation on gambling. Mr. Babiš was one of many MPs absent from the Chamber of Deputies on the eve of the state holiday marking the anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia. In a telephone interview, the ANO chief told Czech Television that there would have been no need for Tuesday’s debate if TOP 09’s Miroslav Kalousek had not previously delayed a vote on the matter at hand by speaking at such length in the lower house.
The Green Party have called on the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, to honour volunteers who help refugees at a ceremony on Wednesday celebrating the foundation of Czechoslovakia. In an open letter, the Greens’ leader Jana Drápalová and party senator Václav Láska said they were not requesting state honours for volunteers, merely that the head of state thank them for their work. The president’s spokesman rejected the call. Mr. Zeman has been criticised for his comments on migrants and Muslims, with the UN’s high commissioner for human rights last week saying his repeated Islamophobic comments had contributed to xenophobic public discourse.