• Prague archaeological dig fails to find remains of Communist resistor Zdena Mašínová

    07/23/2020

    Archaeologists say an excavation at notorious mass grave at Prague’s Ďáblice cemetery has failed to uncover the remains of Zdena Mašínová, a WWII resister whose family left a deep mark on modern Czech history.

    Mašínová’s sons Josef and Ctirad Mašín resisted the Communists and escaped to the West in 1953 despite a massive manhunt, killing several East German policemen. After she died in a Communist jail in 1956, her remains were dumped in the mass grave.

    Her daughter, also known as Zdena Mašínová, had initiated the excavation, which took place in a spot where two witnesses had said she was buried. The remains of two adults were found at the site, along with those of babies and foetuses.

    Author: Brian Kenety
  • Czech foreign minister seeks EU action over sentencing of Russian historian

    07/23/2020

    Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček says he wants to work with his EU counterparts to support an amateur Russian historian sentenced to prison this week for allegedly sexually assaulting his adopted daughter.

    Petříček is among those believe the changes against Yuri Dmitriev, an amateur historian, are bogus – part of a long-running effort by Russian authorities to silence people working to uncover uncomfortable historical truths.

    “Historian Yuri Dmitriev exposed the crimes of Stalinism, found the mass graves of more than 6,000 people, including several Czechs who were executed after staged trials,” Petříček wrote on Twitter. “Now he, too, has been unjustly convicted. I want to negotiate with colleagues in the EU on how we can help him.”

    In 1997, Dmitriev discovered a mass grave of people executed at the height of the Great Terror in 1937 and 1938. He also previously headed a branch of Memorial, one of Russia’s most prominent independent human rights groups.

    In January, notable figures from across the globe addressed an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking that the historian's prosecution be stopped. Among the Czechs who signed it were former Czech Ombudsman Anna Šabatová.

    Author: Brian Kenety
  • Prague district pushing to reinstall statue of Marshal Radecký

    07/23/2020

    The Prague 1 district leadership is lobbying for a statue of the 19th century Field Marshal Josef Radecký to be reinstalled in the city square of Malostranské náměstí during a major reconstruction this year.

    The statue of the famous Czech nobleman and Austrian field marshal had stood in the Lesser Town square from 1858 to 1919, when it was removed due to objections from Italian diplomats.

    Radecký served as chief of the general staff in the Habsburg Monarchy late in the Napoleonic Wars. He is best known for the victories at the Battles of Custoza (1848) and Novara (1849) during the First Italian War of Independence.

    Author: Brian Kenety
  • Czech state to buy Vysočina home of married poets Reynek and Renaud, create cultural centre

    07/23/2020

    The Czech state plans to buy the Vysočina region home of the late poets Bohuslav Reynek and Suzanne Renaud and found a new cultural centre there.

    Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Minister of Culture Lubomír Zaorálek made the announcement following a visit to the château where the married poets had lived in the village of Petrkov, near Havlíčkův Brod.

    Reynek was a Czech poet and printmaker. His French wife Renaud was also a poet, and a translator. Their home was declared a protected cultural monument in 2009.

    After their château was put up for sale last May, a petition titled Save Petrkov! was launched to prevent its sale to private investors that collected nearly 2,000 signatures.

    The Petrkov château should become state property by the end of the year, with its management entrusted to the Museum of National Literature.

    Author: Brian Kenety
  • Health minister considering state-wide countermeasures amid Covid-19 surge

    07/23/2020

    Health Minister Adam Vojtěch says he is considering implementing of nation-wide measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The announcement came after a meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, following a suden surge in cases over recent weeks .

    Votěch declined to specify what measures are being considered, but said that they would not involve dramatic steps such as closing certain sectors of the economy or business activity. However, he did not rule out the possibility of the mandatory wearing of facemasks in public spaces.

    Any new nation-wide measures will be announced on Friday and go into effect as of Monday, he said.

    Author: Tom McEnchroe
  • Former Hradec Králové region official sentenced for manipulating hospital tenders

    07/23/2020

    The Regional Court in Hradec Králové on Thursday sentenced the former head of the region’s investment department to five years in prison for manipulating tenders to reconstruct the Náchod Regional Hospital.

    The former official, Emil Kmoníček, was found guilty of trying to ensure the construction company Metrostav won public tenders held in 2015/2016. The tenders, each worth over 1 billion crowns, were cancelled after suspicions arose.

    Author: Brian Kenety
  • Number of coronavirus cases rises by 250 on Wednesday

    07/23/2020

    Wednesday saw 247 new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus identified in the Czech Republic. It is the largest rise since the end of June. Since the begining of the pandemic 14,570 people have tested positive for the virus, with more than 60 percent of patients having since recovered. Currently, there are 5,062 people in the country who are sick with the coronavirus and 364 have died in total, according to Ministry of Health data.

    Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said on Wednesday that state-wide measures to tackle the rise in cases will be considered before the end of the week.

    Author: Tom McEnchroe
  • ČBA: Czech economic growth to shrink by 7.5 percent due to coronavirus

    07/23/2020

    The Czech Banking Association (ČBA) predicts the domestic economy will decline by some 7.5 percent this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, the economy should grow 5.3 percent, the association told a press conference.

    The association’s estimates do not factor in a possible “second wave” of the coronavirus pandemic in the autumn, nor the repetition of widespread measures to contain the spread of the disease.

    Economists of member banks agree the most significant decline in GDP occurred in the second quarter and expect that the economy will return to its 2019 level at the earliest in 2022. The consensus view is that unemployment will be twice the pre-crisis level both this year and in 2020.

    Author: Brian Kenety
  • PM unhappy with COVID-19 situation, says he will discuss efforts with health minister

    07/22/2020

    Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says he will discuss the current state of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in the country with Health Minister Adam Vojtech this Wednesday evening. The Czech Republic saw its worst rise in coronavirus cases for a month on Tuesday and crossed the mark of 5,000 active cases in the country. Mr Babiš said earlier in the day that he does not like the way in which the situation is developing and that it is necessary to act fast.

    The prime minister was also critical of the length of time it is taking to create an efficient network of state testing laboratories instead of relying on private facilities and said that the situation in the heavily affected Moravian-Silesian Region points to problems in the competency of testing. He also said he does not understand why the Faculty Hospital in Ostrava does not have a testing facility and that it is necessary to improve communications between the regional hygienist offices.

    For his part, Health Minister Vojtěch said epidemiologists will re-evaluate the current growth in new coronavirus cases and that he will present their analysis at Monday’s government meeting.  He also dismissed talk of a “second wave” of the virus, saying that the tackling of the spread of the virus is very dependent on the local situation in the country’s individual regions.

    Author: Tom McEnchroe
  • First Czech military intel chief Radovan Procházka receives posthumous National Security Council Award

    07/22/2020

    Radovan Procházka, the first military intelligence chief in the history of the Czech Republic, has posthumously received the National Security Council Award. Procházka, who spent 13 years in a Communist jail and labour camps for being part of a military group that fed information to the West, died last month at the age of 93. For his resistance to Communism, he was awarded the Order of the White Lion from President Václav Havel in 1997.

    Prime Minister and current National Security Council head Andrej Babiš also handed the award to the current director of military intelligence, Jan Beroun, during the ceremony at Prague’s Lichtenstein Palace on Wednesday. The Faculty of Law at Palacký University in OIomouc, as well as the editorial team of the magazine Obrana a strategie (Defence and strategy), received the award for extraordinary contributions in the area of security policy.

    Author: Tom McEnchroe

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