Thousands of people have been hitting ski hills in the Liberec region, north of Prague. Hills in the area reported more than a metre of snow on trails and ideal skiing conditions. According to the Czech news agency, parking areas at Ještěd Mountain, for example, are full. Other areas seeing a lot of visitors and full parking lots include the Jizera Mountains. Rokytnice nad Jizerou in the Krkonoše (or Giant Mountains) reported snow between 120 and 180 centimetres. The resort said it saw more than 4,000 skiers on Saturday alone.
A hydrogen explosion caused a fire at a hall at Unipetrol’s factory in Litvínov near Most on Saturday morning, which took fire fighters roughly an hour to put out. The explosion took place at around 11 am. Clean-up work, however, continued well into the evening hours. No one was hurt in the incident.
A public demonstration organised by the ultra-right Workers' Party for Social Justice was attended by about 400 people, mostly local residents in Varnsdorf, North Bohemia, on Sunday. After the rally, its participants set out for town districts inhabited by a largely Romany population. There were no incidents, however, during the two-hour event which was monitored closely by the police. The Workers' Party for Social Justice is the successor to the banned Workers' Party. The marchers walked twice past a dormitory primarily occupied by Romanies, considered one of the more difficult areas in the town. Extremists carried placards referencing ultra-right slogans used by some in Czechoslovakia in the 1930s, ČTK reported.
Highly-respected literary critic Milan Jungmann, who headed several literary journals in the 1960s as well as the Writers’ Association, died at the age of 90 on Friday; the news was revealed a day later by Libuše Ludvíková of the Czech PEN club. Dr Jungmann, born in 1922 in Hořany near Most, completed studies at Charles University and headed the Czech National Library as well as Literární noviny and other publications in the 1960s. He joined the Communist Party in 1945 but was expelled in 1969 following the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Jungmann received the Tom Stoppard prize in 1989 and the F.X. Šalda award in 1995. The date of his funeral is expected be announced on Monday.
Czech filmmaker Jan Němec received the Vladislav Vančura prize on Saturday for his lifelong contribution to Czech and world cinema in the areas of fiction, documentary and experimental film. The prize was given at the annual Trilobit awards in Beroun, near Prague, by the Czech Film and Television Association FITES. Others awarded on the evening included the late Václav Havel, given the Josef Škvorecký prize in memoriam for the adaptation of his play Leaving for the screen, which Mr Havel also directed.
Investigators and a medical examiner were called to the scene in Prague’s Karlín district on Sunday after a decapitated human head was found at the corner of Pobřežní and Šaldova streets. It is the latest in a series of gruesome discoveries in the Czech capital: at the beginning of December hands cut at the wrists and taped together were found near the Kunratice stream ; then, part of a woman’s body was found on Christmas Day at another Prague park. The victim has been estimated as having been between 40 – 45 years of age.
Czech figure skaters Michal Březina and Tomáš Verner have finished outside of the medals at the European Figure Skating Championships in Sheffield. Verner was in third place after the short programme but dropped to fifth after falling on a quadruple toe loop and jumping only a single axel as well as leaving out another jump. Březina’s fourth-place finish is his fourth at a major event in three seasons. Russian star Evgeni Plushenko won the European title.
The Czech Republic and other non-euro zone countries will participate in future euro zone summits, Czech Radio’s flagship station Radiožurnál reported on Saturday, referring to the latest draft of the planned fiscal compact. According to Radiožurnál, states will be eligible providing they sign. Highly-placed sources confirmed that Czech, Polish and Swedish negotiators at a meeting of prime ministers in Brussels had played a key role in pushing through the concession: originally, members of the euro zone had intended to meet on their own. The centre-right Czech government this week approved a 1.5 billion euro loan to the IMF to help contain the debt crisis in the euro zone and gave conditional approval for the Czech Republic to join the emerging fiscal compact – a process that will either have to be ratified by Parliament or in a national referendum.
MP and former head of the Communist Party Miroslav Grebeníček has expressed the suspicion that his party is being spied on by the country’s centre-right government. Mr Grebeníček expressed his concerns in a written message to the prime minister in which he stressed that he had registered information recently that the Interior Ministry and certain intelligence branches had been “tasked” with monitoring his party. He also questioned the prime minister about whether other political parties, including his own right-of-centre Civic Democrats, were being watched. In the Communist MP’s view, such tactics could be pursued to draw public attention away from lobbying, backroom deals and political corruption. Prime Minister Petr Nečas denied the claims outright, stressing in his written reply that intelligence service activities were defined by law; he maintained that no investigation of the Communist Party could be conducted at the behest of the government without lawful reason.
The diary of Michal Kraus (who survived the Holocaust as a boy) was
published on Friday on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance
Day. As a boy, Kraus went through Terezín and later the Auschwitz and
Mauthausen concentration camps where he lost both parents and he survived
two death marches. He wrote his diary shortly after the end of the war but
never published it. He had started writing a diary at home, prior to
deportation but in Auschwitz it was taken away from him. The diary will be
officially presented at the seat of the Prague Jewish Community on
Mr Kraus´s diary describes the events and relations in the camp and condemns inhuman behaviour of some inmates, the Czech news agency reports. In July 1948, 17-year-old Michal Kraus left Czechoslovakia and moved to Canada with the help of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. He took his diary with him and later gave it to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. Copies of the diary are kept by four museums in the Czech Republic and Israel. Mr Kraus, now 81, decided to publish his diary because of the persecution of ethnic and other minorities, still a problem in the Czech Republic and Europe in general, he said.