Thousands of people gathered on Prague`s Old Town Square on Saturday evening to watch the lighting of the traditional Christmas tree. The 22-metre spruce was felled in the region of Hradec Králové and will adorn the historic square until January 6. The tree-lighting ceremony also launched the city`s annual Christmas markets.
In reaction to the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said he believed in the strengthening of civil liberties in Cuba. He also said that Castro embodied people`s hopes as a revolutionary leader before turning in a dictator. Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said could never forget that the former Cuban leader supported the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. The head of the Communist Party, Vojtěch Filip, expressed his sympathy to his family and his nation, adding that he regarded Castro as a fighter for freedom of Cuban people.
One of the rarest Czechoslovak stamps was sold at an auction in Prague on Saturday for more than 1.7 million crowns (some 63,000 euro). The starting price was at one million crowns. The 50-heller was issued in 1927 and by mistake, overprinted “50/50” DOPLATIT as a postage due. It was used by the post office before the error was discovered. Between 20 to 30 used copies are believed to be in the possession of collectors.
Temperatures in the Czech Republic in the next four weeks should remain average for the time of year, according to a regularly monthly weather forecast issued by the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute. Snowfall and rainfall levels are also expected to be above average in the next week. Temperatures will hover between zero and five degrees Celsius during the day and drop below zero during the night.
The Social Democrats' biggest rival in the upcoming general elections will be the ANO Party, led by finance minister and millionaire businessman Andrej Babiš, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said during the party's regional conference in Hradec Králové on Saturday. Mr. Sobotka said the finance minister was using his money, the Agrofert company and the media to gain absolute power over the Czech Republic. He also added that Babiš was not a superman and could be defeated. ANO have been consistently ahead in opinion polls for some time.
British singer Elton John is set to perform at Prague's O2 Arena on Saturday night. According to the organizers, the concert is completely sold out. Sir Elton will appear in the Czech capital as part of his world tour to promote his 33rd studio album Wonderful Crazy Night. He last visited Prague three years ago.
Citizens of the Czech town Králíky have voted against plans for a women’s prison to be sited in the district. As many as 86 percent voted "no" in a local referendum on Friday. The turnout was about 45 percent. The Ministry of Justice has proposed that a former children’s facility be turned into a prison for 200 women at the town of just under 5,000 in Eastern Bohemia. The ministry says it will take note of the referendum outcome although it is not binding on it.
Prague’s Municipal Court on Friday is due to deal with a complaint by the director of the Czech National Gallery Jiří Fajt against head of state president Miloš Zeman. The president refused in May to sign off on Fajt becoming a professor citing his doubts about whether the gallery director had benefited from a sponsorship payment made by a major bank. Fajt says he has already amassed a series of honourary degrees and is protesting the slur on his reputation. The court rejected Fajt's complaint but he can appeal.
Minister for human rights Jiří Dienstbier on Friday unveiled a campaign in support of gender equality which should be launched by the end of the year. The campaign will focus on domestic violence as well ways of better combining work and family life. The minister pointed out that women are on average paid 22 percent less than men in the Czech Republic. He added that cases of rape were often grossly underestimated with the total running to around 10,000 a year in the country.