Daily news summary
Czechs mark 70th anniversary of death of Jan Masaryk
This Saturday marks the 70th anniversary of the tragic death of former diplomat and foreign minister Jan Masaryk.
On March 10, 1948, Masaryk, the son of the first Czechoslovak president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, fell to his death from his bathroom window at the palace that is home to the Czech Foreign Ministry, a few weeks after the coup in which saw the Communists take power in post-war Czechoslovakia.
The suspicious circumstances of his death, described at the time as suicide, have never been fully cleared up. Many believe Mr Masaryk did not jump but was pushed from his window, in other words murdered.
Czech Foreign Minister Martin Stropnický paid homage a day earlier, laying a wreath at the foreign ministry’s main building in Prague. Members of the public can visit the commemorative bust of Jan Masaryk at the Černín Palace ministry building on Saturday.
Concert to be held for invited Zeman supporters
The head of state Miloš Zeman, who took the oath of office this week for his second and final five year term, is reportedly having a concert organized for invited guests at Prague Castle to celebrate. It is scheduled for next Wednesday. His spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček, confirmed for the Czech News Agency that the list of invited supporters would be about 1,000 names. More is to be revealed at a press conference on Tuesday.
Mr Zeman kept a relatively low profile in recent weeks, following his narrow defeat of challenger Jiří Drahoš in the presidential race.
He came under fire for part of his inaugural speech this week in which he took aim at his political opponents and attacked the objectivity of the media including public broadcaster Czech TV.
People in Need's Pánek warns that "power of Mordor is growing" in politics
Former student leader in 1989 and longtime head of the NGO People in Need, Šimon Pánek, gave a somber speech before some 400 attendees at the 23rd Prague Student Summit on Friday in which he said the the world was growing increasingly dangerous, that democracy was weakening and globalization between tyrants was becoming more and more the norm.
He expressed the view that the dominance of European and American influence was waning after 200 years making way for a multipolar world and suggested that authoritarian leaders and dictators were the ones taking advantage.
As an example, he pointed to many meetings between leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, asking students what they thought they talked about.
Mr Pánek was equally grim in his description of political developments on the domestic scene, referencing J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy classic The Lord of the Rings: "Mordor's power is growing" he said in describing the balance of power in the Czech Republic and the power bloc of the current president and the prime minister in resignation, which, in his view, was "nothing to cheer about".
The NGO head, who spoke after the US ambassador to Prague Stephen B. King and first round presidential candidate Marek Hilšer, said Czechia did not need as many new diplomats and experts as there were students at the summit but rather people who "fought for basic ideals, solidarity, were honorable and defended human rights".
Construction worker seriously injured in bridge collapse
A 32-year-old construction worker suffered serious injury while working on the renovation of the I/48 road which will be the future D48 highway on Saturday when the bridge he was working in collapsed. The bridge was gradually being dismantled.
The worker was operating a digger which fell some five meters and flipped on its side in the fall.
The section of road, in Příbor in the area of Nový Jičín, had been fully closed off so the collapse presented no threat to public safety and did not in any way affect traffic.
The injured man was conscious when found and was freed from the heavy machine before medics arrived to take him to hospital.
Migrant smugglers arrested near Prague
Police arrested three Turkish nationals traveling on Prague's ring road for allegedly trying to smuggle 22 people from Iraq, Syria and Turkey into Germany; the group was found hidden in the back of their van. The suspects are believed to have smuggled some 100 people or so across the border in the past.
The news was confirmed on Friday by the spokesman for the National Centre Against Organized Crime Jaroslav Ibehej. If found guilty, the trio could face up to eight years in jail.
Ledecká adds sixth triumph on snowboard circuit to secure World Cup Crystal globe
Czech snowboarding (and skiing) phenom Ester Ledecká, who won two gold medals at the Winter Olympics in South Korea, secured the FIS Alpine Snowboard World Cup crystal globe with a first-place finish in Scuol, Switzerland on Saturday. It is her sixth win in the giant slalom and 15th overall. It is the third straight year the 22-year-old clinched the globe.
Mostly cloudy conditions with some sunny periods are expected on Sunday. Daytime temperatures should reach highs of around 13 degrees Celsius.