Thirteen people were arrested in a security operation code-named Jupiter in which hundreds of officers in Prague combed bars, restaurants, motels and squats in search of missing people and stolen vehicles, Czech Radio reported on Sunday citing police sources. Among those detained was one person wanted by Interpol and another on whom there was a Czech arrest warrant. Altogether the police checked over 2,000 IDs and over 1,500 vehicles in the course of the past four days.
In the past fifteen years 572 Czech children found adoptive parents abroad, according to information released by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. 379 of them were boys, 193 girls. The children found new homes predominantly in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Italy. Many of the children had been in children’s homes for over three years and the chance of finding adoptive parents for them in the Czech Republic was small.
President Milos Zeman has accused Norway’s child welfare organization Barnevernet of kidnapping children. In his regular interview from Lany chateau carried by Blesk TV, Mr Zeman said Barnevernet employed gangster-like practices and the Czech government should take stronger action, such as recalling the Czech ambassador to Norway for consultations. The president said the Norwegian ambassador to Prague was not welcome at Prague Castle and would not receive an invitation to his annual meeting with foreign ambassadors.
On the second day of its weekend conference the centre-right Civic Democratic Party elected a new executive leadership. For the first time in the party’s history there are two women in the top management - first deputy chairwoman Alexandra Udženija and deputy chairwoman Drahomíra Miklošová. Martin Kupka, Evžen Tošenovský and Miloš Vystrčil successfully defended their deputy posts. Petr Fiala was re-elected party leader by a strong majority on Saturday. The party’s immediate goal is to succeed in this year’s Senate and regional elections. Polls suggest it has the support of 8 to 9 percent of voters.
Fourteen people have been charged following Friday’s police raid on the offices of the chemical company Spolchemie in north Bohemia. According to a statement on the webpage of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Prague the charges are linked to fraud in insolvency proceedings and attempts to influence judges at a court in České Budějovice. No further details have been released.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has protested against the presence of two Czech Communist Party deputies in Donetsk, an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists. Lower house deputies Zdeňek Ondráček and Stanislav Mackovík allegedly travelled to Donetsk from Russia. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry says on its web page that this is a sign of disrespect for the sovereignty of Ukraine and has asked the Czech government and parliament to distance themselves from the initiative. According to the Czech Foreign Ministry neither the government nor parliament were informed about their plans. The Communist Party has denied organizing the trip, saying it must be a private visit. Ondráček is persona non grata in Ukraine, for having openly supported pro-Russian separatists.
The Czech Film and Television Association FITES on Saturday presented its prestigious Vladislav Vančura award for lifelong contribution to Czech cinematography to film director Vojtěch Jasný, 90. Jasný was one of the first students of the Czech film academy FAMU in the field of photography and film direction 70 years ago. His films Desire (Touha, 1958) ,The Cassandra Cat (Až prijde kocour, 1963) and All My Good Countrymen (Všichni dobří rodáci 1968), are considered masterpieces of Czech cinema. All My Good Countrymen, which won the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival for best director in 1969, was later banned by the communist regime. After the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968, Jasný fled to the West.
A monument in memory of Jan Palach, the student who set himself on fire in protest against public apathy to the Soviet-led invasion of his homeland in 1968, was unveiled in Prague on Saturday on the anniversary of his self-immolation. The monument designed by American sculptor John Hejduk was unveiled at Alšovo nábřeží in Prague, the embankment near Jana Palach square. A plaque at the base of the monument displays David Shapiro’s poem, “The Funeral of Jan Palach”, which reportedly inspired Hejduk. The ceremony was attended by members of Jan Palach’s family, U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic Andrew H. Shapiro and Prague mayor Adriana Krnáčová, among others.
Civic Democratic Party chairman Petr Fiala was re-elected party leader at the party’s election conference in Ostrava on Saturday. Mr. Fiala, who has led the party for two years and ran for the top post unchallenged, was supported by 436 delegates out of 469. He said the party, which fell from grace in 2013 in connection with a corruption scandal, was ready to make a comeback and accept responsibility for the country. Alexandra Udženija was elected first deputy chairwoman.The party’s immediate goal is to succeed in this year’s Senate and regional elections. Polls suggest it has the support of 8 to 9 percent of voters.
Snow and ice are complicating traffic around the country, and traffic police have had to close a number of small roads in the regions. Conditions are worst in Moravia and Silesia which had over 10 cm of fresh snow overnight. Drivers heading for the mountain regions have been warned not to set out without winter tires and chains. Maintenance crews are working around the clock to clear roads and fresh snow has been forecast in the next 24 hours.