Police are gearing up for Friday’s funeral which will be attended by numerous foreign dignitaries and will inevitably bring restrictions to city traffic in some parts of Prague. Drivers have been asked to leave their cars at home if at all possible. Meanwhile, Czech Railways has said it is reinforcing trains to and from Prague on Thursday and Friday in view of high public interest in attending the funeral. Although people will not be able to enter St. Vitus’ Cathedral, which is limited to 1,000 places, the funeral will be shown live on screens outside.
Tickets to a public memorial concert for Vaclav Havel at Prague’s Lucerna Palace, organized by his brother, sold out in two hours. The rock group The Plastic People of the Universe, which was closely associated with Václav Havel, will be playing along with other groups of the dissident music scene, Garage, Hudba Praha and the Velvet Underground Revival. The organizers have also promised to show clips from documentary films about the former president and play tributes from friends and celebrities. The memorial concert will be shown on a big screen on Wenceslas Square and live on Czech TV.
The northern Polish city of Gdansk has announced that it will name one of its streets after the late Czech president Vaclav Havel. City mayor Pawel Adamowicz said Mr. Havel was the “Czech Lech Walesa” and was greatly loved and honoured in Poland. The decision to rename the street, as of Friday- the day of Mr. Havel’s funeral, is said to have been unanimous. In Prague there is an initiative to rename the city’s main international airport after the country’s first post-communist president.
Prague’s Charles University held a commemorative gathering to honour the memory of the late Czech president Vaclav Havel on Thursday. Among those present at the ceremony were Vaclav Havel’s brother Ivan, an important figure in the Czech academic community and the university’s former rector Charter 77 signatory Radim Palous. In 1990 Vaclav Havel received an honorary doctorate from Charles University for his philosophical writings.
Real estate agents report that the economic uncertainty is making Czechs cautious in their housing decisions. They say potential buyers are extremely cautious in taking out mortgages and many people now prefer to rent out property until the economic situation improves. In the course of 2011 interest in renting property, particularly flats, has risen by over 17 percent. Many companies have announced lay-offs at the start of 2012 and the number of Czechs who are unable to pay their debts is on the rise.
The faulty French breast implants suspected of being potentially carcinogenic were exported to 65 countries including the Czech Republic. The implants are also more likely to split and leak than other kinds. It is expected that the French government will announce a recall of the implants, which will involve tens of thousands of recipients being called in for surgery. It is not yet clear how many Czech women –and foreign patients who underwent surgery at Czech clinics- this may concern. The French authorities are expected to issue a statement on Friday.
The Czech Republic has begun three days of mourning in honour of its late
president Václav Havel. State institutions are flying black flags with
others at half-mast. Concerts, exhibitions and theatrical performances have
been largely cancelled, and casinos and gambling bars are closed. Prime
Minister Petr Nečas has asked businesses and all citizens to reconsider
celebratory events that could be inappropriate. A day of mourning was last
declared in 2001 to honour the victims of the attacks of September 11.
Slovakia will hold a day of mourning for the passing of its former
president on Friday.
The first president of the Czech Republic, the last president of Czechoslovakia, and foremost a humanist of world renown, Václav Havel died in his sleep on Sunday at his cottage in Northern Bohemia. He was 75 years old.
Some 10,000 people on Wednesday joined the procession with the casket of the late ex-president. The procession, which included 600 soldiers, left the Prague Crossroads spiritual centre in Old Town and crossed Charles Bridge on its way to Prague Castle. There, in the Castle Guards garrison, the former-president’s casket was placed on a gun carriage, the same that was used during the funeral of Czechoslovakia’s first president, T. G. Masaryk. Drawn by three pair of horses, the casket was taken to the Vladislav Hall of Prague Castle where it will lay in state until Friday’s funeral.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Václav Klaus praised his predecessor for contributing to the Czech Republic's international position, prestige and authority more than anyone else. He commemorated Václav Havel as a man who courageously and consistently sacrificed himself for his opinions, and called upon people to seek guidance and inspiration in his legacy and his example, stressing that the era that began with the fall of communism should not end with the former president death. The president described Mr Havel as a distinct and complex personality that defied “superficial assessment."