Daily news summary


Czech foreign minister welcomes prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine

Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček has joined world leaders in welcoming the exchange of prisoners between Moscow and Kiev which saw dozens of men repatriated on Saturday.

Minister Petríček tweeted that he welcomed the exchange of prisoners, which includes Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and all the Ukrainian sailors detained in the Kerch Strait last year, as a step forward in resolving the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

The prisoners returned to Russia include the journalist Kirill Vyshinsky, who was accused of treason in Ukraine and Ukrainian soldiers who had deserted for Russia.

Fresh controversy over Konev statue

Prague and Moscow have once again exchanged words over the controversial statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev in Prague.

Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky compared the mayor of Prague 6 Ondřej Kolář, who is trying to get the statue moved to the grounds of the Russian embassy, to a leader of the regional branch of the Nazi party NSDAP.

Kolář described the minister's statement as outrageous. Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said he regretted the fact that the discussion surrounding the Konev statue has crossed the bounds of a rational debate. “I do not consider the statement of the Russian culture minister appropriate. I think an apology would help calm the situation, "Petříček said in a text message to the ctk news agency.

Meanwhile, President Miloš Zeman has backed Moscow’s arguments regarding the need to show respect for a war hero who helped liberate the city of Prague at the end of WWII. “I would recommend leaving the statue where it is and not embarrassing ourselves by demonstrating such ignorance of history" the president said in an interview for TV Barrandov.

Marshal Konev is perceived as a controversial figure in the Czech Republic. Although he helped liberate the country from Nazi oppression, he was also involved in the suppression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956 and the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

"The Painted Bird" wins Cinema for UNICEF award in Venice

"The Painted Bird" by Czech director Václav Marhoul received the Cinema for UNICEF award from a student jury at the international film festival in Venice on Friday.The award is traditionally given to the film that best addresses children's rights issues.

Adapted from the 1965 novel of the same name by Polish-American writer Jerzy Kosinski, "The Painted Bird" is set in the Eastern Europe's countryside in the final phase of World War II, seen through the eyes of a little boy who encounters cruelty and violence.

Václav Marhoul said the award was fantastic news because it showed that young people had understood his film and its message.“Some critics wrote that the movie is all about brutality and violence, but the young audience saw exactly what I intended them to see: hope, light and humanity, so they actually counterbalanced some people's opinions,"Marhoul told the ctk news agency .

"The Painted Bird is not a war film, nor even a Holocaust film... the story forces us to ask ourselves many unpleasant questions, and to seek often very painful answers," Marhoul explained at the movie's presentation.

The film is competing for the festival‘s main award, the Golden Lion.

European Heritage Days underway

More than 800 heritage sites in the Czech Republic opened to the public free of charge within the European Heritage Days on Saturday.

Between now and September 15, people can visit hundreds of official heritage sites, but also many private and public buildings, such as town halls, churches, schools and residential houses, which are normally not accessible to the public.

The official opening of the European Heritage Days took place in the Renaissance style chateau in Litomyšl, which is celebrating 20 years since it was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage.

The Czech Republic joined the European Heritage Days, held at the initiative of the Council of Europe, in 1991.

Czech basketball team beats Brazil, making strong bid for quarterfinals

The Czech Republic beat Brazil 93:71 in the second stage of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 on Saturday, in a strong bid to reach the quarterfinals.

The Czech team dominated the game from start to finish grabbing a 20:16 lead ten minutes into the game.

They sank 25 points in the second frame to gain a 13-point halftime advantage 45:32 and added 48 points in the second half to march to a comfortable victory.

Both teams are now tied at 3-1 record in Group K.

Eight Czech soccer fans arrested in Pristina ahead of European Championship qualifier

Police in Kosovo arrested eight Czech soccer fans ahead of Saturday's 2020 European Championship qualifier between Kosovo and the Czech Republic.

Michal Jurman, spokesman for the Czech Soccer Association, confirmed the news saying the six men and two women arrested on Friday night near the Kosovo capital of Pristina were allegedly planning to fly a drone with a pro-Serbia banner reading "Kosovo is Serbia," during the game.

Police reportedly seized the drone as well as two walkie-talkies, fireworks and six knifes. The Czech Foreign Ministry said all eight people, one of whom also has Serbian citizenship, were released early Saturday.

The Czech Soccer Association issued a statement slamming unruly behaviour on sports stadiums and rejecting attempts to link sport with politics.

Weather forecast

Sunday should be overcast with rain around the country and day temperatures between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius.