Czech senators Karel Schwarzenberg and Jaromir Stetina have said they have been refused visas to Belarus where they planned to meet representatives of the political opposition. Mr Schwarzenberg and Mr Stetina said they were not surprised that they had not been granted visas by President Alexander Lukashenko's regime. The Belarussian Embassy said it would not comment on the issue.
The latest film by Czech director and screenwriter Bohdan Slama, "Stesti" or "Something Like Happiness" has just premiered in Prague to high critical acclaim. Slama's previous feature "The Wild Bees" ("Divoke vcely") received a number of international awards, and according to reviewers, "Something Like Happiness" stands a similar chance.
Czech senator Karel Schwarzenberg has been commenting on his expulsion from Cuba on Thursday, in the latest in a series of diplomatic rows between Havana and Prague. Speaking in Paris on his way back to the Czech Republic, Mr Schwarzenberg said his deportation had been quick and had passed without incident. But he added that Cuba's "exaggerated" reaction showed the nervousness of a regime visibly unsure of itself. Senator Schwarzenberg had planned to attend an unprecedented meeting of opponents of the Castro regime.
Czech officials and politicians have reacted heatedly to Cuba's expulsion
of a Czech senator, demanding an explanation. Senator Karel Schwarzenberg
was thrown out of the country late Thursday, soon after arriving to meet
with Cuban dissidents. So far, Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has reacted
by saying the expulsion was proof the Czech Republic's tough stance on
Cuba was justified. Senate chairman Premysl Sobotka, meanwhile, has
described the expulsion as "a blatant violation of international
Karel Schwarzenberg is the former head of the presidential office under former Czech president Vaclav Havel, himself a strong critic of Fidel Castro's regime. The European Union is to decide soon whether to reinstate diplomatic sanctions against Cuba on the basis of human rights violations. The Czech Republic has been pushing the EU not to soften its stance.
Relations between Cuba and the Czech Republic have been thorny for some years, with vocal opposition to the Castro regime in Prague. Now Havana has increased tensions yet again, expelling Czech senator Karel Schwarzenberg just hours after he arrived in Cuba for an opposition meeting. Mr Schwarzenberg arrived in Cuba on Thursday on a tourist visa, and insisted he had not broken any law. Meanwhile, the Czech Foreign Minister describes his expulsion as unacceptable, saying it proves that Cuba is a totalitarian state.