Daily news summary
Czech Foreign Ministry says nerve gas tested in Brno was different from that used in UK attack
The Czech Foreign Ministry has ruled out the possibility that the nerve agent tested in the Czech Republic could have been used in the attack against Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain.
The Foreign Ministry issued the statement in response to President Zeman’s claim that a minute amount of the nerve-gas Novichok had been produced and tested in the Czech Republic. The president was citing a military intelligence report.
The Foreign Ministry said that a few millilitres of a nerve gas of the Novichok family labelled A-230 was produced, tested, and destroyed by the Czech Military Research Institute in Brno. “The nerve-paralysing poison used in the U.K. attack is called A-234 and is therefore a different variant than the one tested by the Czech military institute for purposes of defence" the ministry statement said.
It moreover stressed that the substance tested in Brno was immediately disposed of by the laboratory and is not stored anywhere, as was the case with the A230 substance. The Brno institute functions with the approval of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Meanwhile, President Zeman has come under fire for disclosing classified information from a military intelligence report. According to Czech law this is punishable by up to three years in prison, but the president has immunity from prosecution and can only be impeached on grounds of treason.
Czechs mark 73rd anniversary of Prague Uprising
Political leaders, war veterans and members of the public gathered outside Czech Radio’s Prague headquarter on Saturday to mark the 73rd anniversary of the Prague Uprising against Nazi rule at the end of WWII.
The radio station was the focal point of the uprising and the site of one of the biggest clashes with Nazi forces as citizens came to defend the building against German attempts to retake it. Over 100 people died defending the radio building and hundreds of others fell at the barricades that went up around Prague. Altogether, an estimated 12,000 people were killed around the country.
The commemorative ceremony outside Czech Radio was attended by the Speaker of the Senate Milan Stech, Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová, members of the Union of Freedom Fighters and others. Mr. Stech said that although the uprising had come in the last days of the war it had prevented the Nazis from destroying the historic core of the Czech capital.
Freedom celebrations in Plzen
Freedom celebrations continue in the West Bohemian town of Plzen, marking the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of the city by General Patton’s Army. Thousands of people on Saturday welcomed the Convoy of Liberty, with its 220 historic military vehicles, which is traditionally one of the highlights of the celebrations. Seven US and Belgian war veterans who helped liberate the city are attending the celebrations this year.
The Liberation Festival in the city traditionally lasts for several days and includes street happenings, concerts and the chance to see a reconstructed US military camp from that period. The celebrations continue on Sunday at the town’s memorial to the US army with an event called Thank You, America!
Putin’s Night Wolves in the Czech Republic
The Night Wolves, a Russian motorcycle club known for its staunch nationalism and close ties to Vladimir Putin, is making several appearances in the Czech Republic in connection with the end-of-war celebrations. They attended a commemorative ceremony in Silesia on Friday and are expected to return to the Czech Republic on Sunday.
The Russian bikers’ presence in the country is highly controversial. They claim they are paying homage to Red Army soldiers who died liberating Czechoslovakia, but critics see their rides as politically provocative and Russian propaganda.
Thouands join Prague march in support of legalizing marihuana
Thousands of people joined Saturday’s march through Prague in support of legalisation of marihuana in the Czech Republic. The ‘Million Marihuana March’ is an annual event culminating with a happening on Stvanice Island that includes the sale of technical marihuana products, concerts and debates.
Marihuana is legal for the treatment of certain medical conditions but possession of more than a small amount is still an offence.
Kvitová wins Prague WTA
Petra Kvitová claimed her third title of the season at the J&T Banka Prague Open on Saturday, as she rallied from a set down to defeat 7th seed Mihaela Buzarnescu, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
The win is Kvitová's third title of the season following victories at the St. Petersburg Ladies' Trophy and the Qatar Total Open and the twenty-third title in her career.
Kvitová said after the game that it had been a tough fight but she was delighted to have won on home ground.
Sunday should be clear and sunny, with day temperatures between 20 and 24 degrees Celsius.