Daily news summary


Human rights minister slams president for his support of Bloc Against Islam

The country’s human rights minister and former presidential candidate Jiří Dienstbier has strongly criticized the head of state Miloš Zeman, charging he had thrown support behind “hate groups” in Czech society. On Tuesday, the anniversary of the fall of Communism in Czechoslovakia, Mr Zeman shared the stage with members of the Bloc Against Islam at Prague’s Albertov, a move which Mr Dienstbier said “crossed all lines”. The group is strongly anti-immigration, using a crossed out mosque and minaret as its logo. Mr Dienstbier said that some of the president’s past statements were xenophobic, had spread fear in society, and helped fuel fascistic sentiments. The president’s spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček, reacted to the criticism by saying the minister had “once again” shown scorn for regular “citizens, their opinions and concerns”.

Students announce alternative date to mark November 17

Students who were not allowed to continue on to Albertov in Prague on November 17, to mark historic events (the execution and mass arrest of Czech students by the Nazis in 1939 and the start of the Velvet Revolution in 1989) say they will mark the anniversary ‘properly’ on November 28. Some 4,000 people, aiming to participate, have already signed up on facebook. On Tuesday, students aiming to mark the November 17th anniversary were turned away by security ahead of a speech by President Miloš Zeman where he appeared on stage several hours later with members of the Bloc Against Islam, for which he has come under criticism.

Science faculty dean says students’ not being allowed to proceed to site of commemorative plaque was “unjust”

Students and their professors were denied the freedom this year at Albertov, the dean of Charles University’s Faculty of Science, Bohuslav Gaš, said in a statement released on Wednesday. He called the students’ not being allowed to the site of a plaque at Albertov to mark November 17th for security reasons (hours ahead of the president’s speech) unjust, and charged that the students had been treated like “intruders”. Other faculties also criticized the situation, pointing out the area was open afterwards to the president’s supporters. Last year, President Miloš Zeman’s speech was, at points, drowned out and his security team had to step in to prevent the head of state from being pelted with eggs by those opposed to his policies.

Twenty or so demonstrators detained, police say

Police arrested around 20 people in Prague on Tuesday in connection with a number of demonstrations held on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution which led to the collapse of communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989. Individuals were detained largely for disorderly conduct or accosting an officer of the law. According to a police spokesman, officers found knives and other weapons among some who attended a demonstration organized by the initiative Bloc Against Islam. Tuesday saw numerous demonstrations in the Czech capital - some in support of the president, and some critical of the government or the head-of-state.

Number of asylum applications goes up

Some 1,245 foreign nationals applied for asylum in the Czech Republic in the first 10 months of 2015 – 310 more than over 12 months last year. According to the Interior Ministry, the highest number of asylum seekers over the ten-month period came from Ukraine, followed by Cuba, Syria and Vietnam. In October alone, the greatest number was from Ukraine and Syria. Previous years have seen a similar number of applications for asylum, although 2001 was an exception when the country saw 18,000. The Czech Republic, in the ongoing migrant crisis, is still considered by many a transit country rather than destination.

Opposition parties at City Hall agree to talks

The Prague branches of TOP 09, the Civic Democrats and the Pirate Party, have agreed to non-binidng talks about forming a possible coaltion at City Hall, following the collapse of the recent municipal government. The parties, were they to find common ground, would still require additional support – together holding only 28 seats from 33 needed.

Four who fought Nazism honoured with Memory of Nation Award

Four people who fought Nazism were honoured with the Memory of the Nation Award at a ceremony at Prague’s National Theatre on Tuesday evening. The prizes went to Anna Hyndráková, the only member of her family to survive the Nazi concentration camps; Lýdia Kovářová, who along with her family helped hide a resistance group; Branislav Tvarožek, who also aided the resistance and fought in the Slovak National Uprising; and Viktor Wellemín, who fled with his Jewish family to Palestine and joined a Czechoslovak unit that fought in Tobruk and was later injured in Dunkirk. The awards are presented every year by the civic association Post Bellum.

Gale-force winds hit parts of Czech Republic

Hurricane strength winds of 198 kilometres per hour hit Snežka Mountain on Wednesday while lower-laying areas in Bohemia saw gale-force winds of more than 80 km/h. The data was released by the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute. The strongest winds registered by the institute were in the Krkonoše Mountains back in 2007, when they hit 208 km/h.

Hockey goalie faces domestic assault charges

Twenty-two-year-old Los Angeles Kings goaltending prospect Patrik Bartošák was released on 10,000 US dollar bail earlier this week and faces domestic assault charges for an alleged attack on his girlfriend. According to reports, a hearing in the case has been set for December 16. The Los Angeles Kings released a statement saying the club was in the process of gathering information and would comment when it was appropriate. Bartošák was a 5th round pick in the 2013 draft by the Kings and has played the last two seasons for the club’s farm team.

Czechs lose to Poland as Čech equals caps record

The Czech Republic’s footballers were beaten 3:1 by Poland in a friendly game in Wroclaw on Tuesday night, with the visitors’ only goal coming from midfielder Ladislav Krejčí. The encounter between two nations who have qualified for Euro 2016 saw goalkeeper Petr Čech equal the Czech national caps record of 118 set by Karel Poborský. The 33-year-old, who made his international debut in 2002, has refused to speculate on the eventual record he may set before the end of his career.

Football: Czech Republic finishes in third pot for European championships group draw

Qualification by Sweden and Ukraine for EURO 2016 on Tuesday means the Czech Republic finished in pot 3 for the group draw to be held in less than a month. There was a chance until the final results were posted that the Czech Republic could end up in pot 2, alongside Italy, Russia, Switzerland, Austria and Croatia. The draw will be held on December 12 in Paris.