Czechs on Friday commemorate the 93rd anniversary of the foundation of independent Czechoslovakia, the precursor of the modern-day Czech Republic that was established on October 28, 1918. Events are being held to mark the national holiday; President Václav Klaus laid wreaths at the National Monument at Prague’s Vítkov hill, along with the Archbishop of Prague, Dominik Duka, several government ministers and other officials. The celebrations will conclude on Friday evening when President Klaus will present state honours and decorations at Prague Castle.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Friday laid wreaths at Washington’s statue of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Czechoslovakia’s founder and first president, marking the national holiday. On the second day of his short working visit to the US, Mr Nečas wished Czechs behaved better to each other. On Thursday, the Czech Prime Minister met US President Barack Obama in the White House for talks on issues such as a multi-billion Czech nuclear tender and plans to establish a NATO helicopter training base in the Czech Republic.
The writer, poet, diplomat and former dissident Jiří Gruša died on
Friday at the age of 72. The head of the Czech Pen Club Jiří Dědeček
told the news agency ČTK Mr Gruša died in Hannover, Germany during heart
Jiří Gruša was born in Pradubice on November 10, 1938. He graduated from Charles University in Prague but was banned from publishing after the 1968 Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. He signed the human rights manifesto Charter 77 and left the country in 1981 and lived in Germany. After the fall of communism, he served as the Czech ambassador to Germany and Austria, and also briefly as the minister of education. In 2003, he was elected the head of the International Pen club.
Several hundred Czech Christian believers of various denominations gathered on Friday at the foot of the mythical Mount Říp, in central Bohemia, to pray for the wellbeing of their country. Organizers said they wanted to offer an alternative to official secular celebrations of the national holiday. The Czechoslovak Independence Day was also marked by Czech monarchists who marched through the centre of Prague.
Three hundred and thirty first-year students of the Czech Defence University along with 153 military recruits were sworn in at Prague Castle on Friday. After the ceremony, President Václav Klaus also appointed three new generals and promoted two other generals of the Czech military. The event was held as part of the celebrations of the Independent Czechoslovak State Day. While President Klaus said the new troops have undertaken immense responsibility while Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra noted the military oath also represented a moral commitment.
Some 30 far-right extremists gathered at a rally organized by the Workers’ Party of Social Justice in the north-eastern town of Havířov on Friday. The rally, which had been banned by the local authorities, lasted for about 30 minutes; the party chair, Tomáš Vandas, criticized the authorities for allegedly oppressing the freedom of speech in the country. The organizers face a fine for holding the rally despite the ban.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová beat Agniezska Radwanska from Poland 7:6, 6:3 at the WTA Championships in Istanbul on Friday move to her career-best number two in the world rankings. The 21-year-old Czech was losing 1:5 in the first set but won four games in a row and took the set in a tie-break. In the second set, Radwanska failed to convert two break points and Kvitová wrapped up the match. In the tournament’s semifinals, Petra Kvitová will face Australia’s Samantha Stosur.
On a working visit to the United States Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas is to meet for talks with US President Barack Obama. The meeting, which is to cover bilateral cooperation and international security issues, is expected to be dominated by US interest in a multi-billion crown tender on the expansion of the Czech Republic’s Temelín nuclear power plant. The US-based firm Westinghouse is competing against two other bidders in the tender. According to the CTK news agency the Czech prime minister will seek US support for the idea of a training centre for NATO helicopter pilots in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Army on Thursday officially ended its mission in Kosovo after 12 years in the country. The Czech troops were part of a NATO-led peacekeeping force, KFOR, established on the basis of a UN Security Council Resolution. Their main mission was to guard Kosovo’s borders, maintain law and order and protect towns and ethnic minorities against attacks by extremist groups. The last of the 8,000 Czech troops who served in the country since 1999 on Thursday symbolically handed over the keys of the city Sajkovac and for the last time lowered the Czech flag over the KFOR military base where they served. The Czech Army now only has troops in Afghanistan and a handful of officers serving as military observers in other states.
The Senate on Thursday approved a bill introducing criminal liability of collective entities and business corporations, which would enable courts to fine them, seize their property or even abolish them for serious offences. The bill, which still has to be signed by the president, extends the list of crimes for which business entities can be punished to almost 80. As of 2012 firms could thus be punished for money laundering, counterfeiting, tax evasion, unlawful possession of nuclear material as well as sexual harassment and crimes connected with child pornography.