Běla Gran Jensenová, who lives in Norway, was named Overseas Czech of the Year at a ceremony on Friday night at Prague’s National Theatre organised by Czech Radio and Czech Television. Mrs. Jensenová is the founder of Stonožka (Centipede), an organisation that helps children in hospitals and other institutions in the Czech Republic and a number of other states. She came first in a vote in which listeners and viewers could choose between 20 Czech expatriates that have made notable achievements. Second in the poll was U.S.-based plastic surgeon Bohdan Pomahač, while the Prague-born former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright placed third. The ceremony was held in connection with this year’s Day of Czech Statehood, which was dedicated to Czechs living abroad.
The Czech Ministry of Health is to set up an agency to oversee the purchase of technology and equipment for the country’s publicly-owned hospitals, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Saturday. One reason it is being established is to prevent a situation in which individual hospitals buy the same equipment at different prices, the newspaper said. All purchases over a value of CZK 100,000 will have to go through the new office. Similar systems are in place in other European countries, such as the United Kingdom and Austria.
Architects and theoreticians, many of whom are of the younger generation, are giving free guided tours of significant historical landmarks and contemporary buildings at 45 Bohemian and Moravian cities and towns on Saturday and Sunday, as part of an event dubbed the Day of Architecture. Almost 70 individual activities are being held, including 16 in the capital Prague; these range from tours of some of the city’s estates of prefabricated tower blocks to lectures on the work of German-speaking architects that are today largely forgotten.
Preparations are underway for a showcase of the Czech Republic’s second city, Brno, at the Bohemian National Hall in New York on Monday and Tuesday next week. Organisers say the event, entitled Brno Days–New York, will present the Moravian capital’s commercial and scientific potential, as well as its cultural and architectural heritage, to U.S. investors and businesses. One element of the showcase will be a seminar on Brno’s Villa Tugendhat, a world-renowned functionalist building that reopened earlier this year after extensive renovation work.
The police arrested a man who shot at President Václav Klaus during a bridge-opening ceremony in Chrastava, in northern Bohemia, on Friday afternoon. The 26-year-old man, dressed in camouflage, put his plastic airsfot gun to Mr Klaus’ left side from up close and fired several plastic pellets. The president suffered no injuries but underwent medical test after his return to Prague. After the shooting, the attacker walked away and told TV Nova station he did it in prostest of the government's policies which "starved a third of the nation". He said he was a manual worker, and gave his political affiliation as communist but said he was not active in the party. He was then apprehended by the president’s security service who handed him over to the police. President Klaus, who arrived in Chrastava after attending an event marking the holiday of St Wenceslas earlier in the day, displayed annoyance at his security service, and said the attacker deserved "a few slaps".
Several Czech politicians condemned Friday’s attack on Václav Klaus. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said people had the right to express their views but that these expressions should not exceed acceptable norms. Communist leader Vojtěch Filip said his party distanced themselves from the attack, and condemned violence. Social Democrat deputy chair Lubomír Zaorálek said the attack was “unbelievable” and blamed the president’s security service for letting the attacker close to Mr Klaus.
Three people intoxicated with methanol remain in critical condition in hospitals in the north-east of the country. A 43-year-old man, who was earlier this week hospitalized in Havířov, showed signs of improvement on Friday, doctors said. Another two people – a 60-year-old and a 58-year-old men – are in an Ostrava hospital; their condition has been reported as stable. 26 people have died in the recent outbreak of methanol poisoning in the country while dozens have been hospitalized.
Czechs commemorate Saint Wenceslas, the nation’s patron saint, on
Friday, a public holiday entitled the Day of Czech Statehood. More than
2,000 people attend the traditional pilgrimage in Stará Boleslav,
north-east of Prague, where Wenceslas was assassinated by his brother on
September 28, 935. Czech President Václav Klaus, Prague Archbishop
Duka and other dignitaries are to take part in the event. Prague’s
Wenceslas Square, named after the saint, will on Friday see a historic
procession complete with Saint Wenceslas riding a horse.
Wenceslas, from the Přemyslid dynasty, was the duke of Bohemia from 921 until his assassination 14 years later. He is considered a the founder of the historic Bohemian state, and has been worshiped as a martyr and a saint.
Speaking at the St Wenceslas pilgrimage in Stará Boleslav on Friday, President Václav Klaus called for “more vocal defence” of national traditions. That would benefit the “inner unity” of the Czech nation and state and its prosperity, he said. The Czech president again warned against the decline of traditional European values brought about by the “integration experiment”. For his part, Plzeň’s Bishop František Radkovský asked people not to allow a new form of dictatorship to appear as a result of the ongoing moral crisis and issues with democracy.
Václav is one of traditional Czech names but it is going out of fashion, the news agency ČTK reported on Friday. According to government statistics, there are nearly 133,000 men and boys named Václav living in the country, some 20,000 fewer than two decades ago. Its currently the 17th most popular name in the country. Around 6,600 Czech women bear the female version of the name, Václava.