Daily news summary


President Zeman confirms asking culture minister not to meet with Dalai Lama, but says he made no threats

President Zeman has confirmed asking Culture Minister Daniel Herman not to meet with the Dalai Lama during his visit to Prague, but has denied having linked the request to an award for Herman’s uncle George Brady. The president did not issue an official stand on the matter, but passed on the information to Finance Minister Andrej Babiš with whom he met on Saturday.

Culture Minister Daniel Herman told Czech Television late on Friday that President Miloš Zeman had threatened him not to meet with Dalai Lama or his uncle, Auschwitz survivor George Brady, would be crossed off the list of nominees for a high state distinction. Mr. Herman claimed the words had been said at an official event in front of several witnesses. He refused to disclose their names for fear of dragging them into the dispute.

According to Aktualne.cz, Czech-born George Brady, 88,who has devoted his life to writing and lecturing about the Holocaust, was on the list of nominees who are to receive a state award on October 28, Czechoslovak Independence Day, but was crossed off the list on Friday.

Political scene in shock over award scandal

The affair has evoked widespread criticism across the political spectrum. The leaderships of the Christian Democratic party and the opposition Civic Democrats have said they will discuss a possible party boycott of the award giving ceremony at Prague Castle next week and many ministers and high-placed officials have already said they plan to decline the invitation. Speaker of the lower house Jan Hamáček of the Social Democratic Party said that if Mr. Herman’s words were confirmed he would not attend the ceremony. Miroslava Nemcová of the Civic Democrats said that if the allegations were true then the president had committed blackmail and society must respond. ANO leader Andrej Babiš said Prague Castle owed the public an explanation and should issue an official stand clarifying the matter. An alternative celebration marking Czechoslovak Independence Day is already being organized on Prague’s Old Town Square.

Catholic priest urges boycott of Prague Castle celebrations

Catholic priest Tomas Halík has called on religious leaders, cultural representatives and members of the academic world to boycott the October 28 celebrations at Prague Castle in solidarity with George Brady. Mr. Halík, who received the prestigious Templeton Prize in 2014, also urged the nominees who are to receive state awards from President Zeman this year to consider whether they can accept the honour without a sense of shame. The Catholic priest said Czech society cannot remain silent in the face of the latest developments because to do so would mean to turn the helm of the country’s ship away from Europe and the values of the Western world.

Palacký University in Olomouc to give George Brady academic award

Palacký University in Olomouc is to give Terezin and Auschwitz survivor George Brady an academic award in recognition of his life’s work. Its rector Jaroslav Miller said the university would be honoured to receive Mr. Brady when he visits the Czech Republic. George Brady, who has devoted his life to writing and lecturing about the Holocaust was to have been given a high state distinction by President Milos Zeman on October 28, Czechoslovak Independence Day, but he was crossed off the list reportedly due to the fact that his nephew Culture Minister Daniel Herman met with the Dalai Lama during his visit to Prague, raising the ire of the president. Palacký University in Olomouc is the oldest university in Moravia and the second-oldest in the Czech Republic.

Czech PM warns against rise in anti-establishment, anti-EU movements

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has warned against the rise in anti-establishment and anti-EU movements around Europe. Speaking at a conference of Slovakia’s Social Democrats (SMER-SD)of Prime Minister Robert Fico, Mr. Sobotka said Social Democratic parties around Europe must react to the concerns of the public in order to prevent this trend. Anti-establishment and ant-EU movements feed off people’s frustration and fears of the future, but what they offer is a grave danger for the continent, because the only alternative to EU integration and the single market is competition, nationalism and protectionism, the Czech prime minister said.

Mass served in memory of those murdered in Nazi backlash after Operation Anthropoid

Cardinal Dominik Duka celebrated a mass at St. Vitus Cathedral at midday on Saturday in memory of the close to 300 people killed in the Nazi backlash for Operation Anthropoid, a brave act of resistance in which Czechoslovak paratroopers assassinated Acting Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich in 1942. His death caused a furious and brutal reaction from the Nazis, with hundreds of ordinary people, many with no connection to the attack, executed or sent to concentration camps. Among the victims were the close associates and family of the five paratroopers involved in the operation. The names of the two-hundred-and-ninety- four victims were read out and candles were lit in their memory.

Weather forecast

Sunday should be clear to partly cloudy with day temperatures between 8 and 12 degrees Celsius.