Czech government declares Saturday and Sunday days of national mourning
The world is still in shock over Saturday’s tragedy, when 96 passengers, including the Polish president Lech Kaczynski, died in a plane crash near Russia’s Smolensk. The Polish delegation was on its way to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre. In the Czech Republic, the upcoming weekend will be one of national mourning, during which Czechs will commemorate the Polish president and others who died. Sarah Borufka has the story.
“The Czech Government is calling on its citizens to hold a minute of silence at noon on Saturday to commemorate the victims. On both days, flags on all government buildings will be drawn to half-mast.”
“Yesterday morning Mr. Klaus came to our embassy to sign the book of condolences. The same was done by former president Václav Havel, by several ministers, representatives of the political and cultural life of the Czech Republic, and we have received a number of letters and emails from numerous places throughout the country.”
Václav Klaus will be traveling to Poland to attend both the ceremony commemorating the crash victims – in Warsaw on Saturday – and the funeral of the Polish president and his wife in Krakow on Sunday.
During this difficult time for Poland, Czech politicians aren’t the only ones marking deep sorrow and showing support. Many Prague residents have placed candles and flowers in front of the Polish embassy. The Polish Ambassador Jan Pastwa again:
“The reaction of the ordinary public together with the top politicians and representatives of the Czech Republic’s elite surprised us very much. From the very beginning, we’ve had flowers and candles laid by our embassy. There’s even been a very long queue inside the embassy of people that want to sign the book of condolences. This shows us that the Czech people are with the Poles in these hard days.”
At the Polish embassy in Prague, the flag will continue to fly at half-mast until Sunday. The book of condolences will remain open to the public until Friday.