Around a thousand people attended an ecumenical memorial service on Sunday for the victims of a gas explosion in an apartment building in the north Moravian town of Frenštát pod Radhoštěm. Police believe that the blast, which occurred two weeks ago, was started deliberately by one of the building’s residents, who was among the six people killed. Three of the dead were children. The outdoor service was attended by people from the town and residents of the local area.
The head of the Civic Democrats’ senators group, Jaroslav Kubera, says a cross-party motion to file a treason complaint against Václav Klaus is intended to vilify the outgoing president in such a way that he quits politics. Speaking on a TV debate show ahead of a vote on the motion on Monday, Mr. Kubera said his Senate colleagues were “going after a fly with a shotgun”. The challenge’s backers want the Constitutional Court to rule on whether Mr. Klaus acted unconstitutionally in connection with a controversial amnesty and other steps. For his part, Jiří Dientsbier – one of those behind the move – said the aim was not to punish Mr. Klaus but to make clear that the Senate would not stand for unconstitutional behavior. The president, who is 71, steps down on Thursday after a decade in office.
The police have shelved an investigation into the publication of the mobile telephone numbers of politicians by the provocative art group Ztohoven, Lidovky.cz reported on Sunday. While the police say no crime was committed, they have passed the matter on to the Office for the Protection of Personal Data, the news site said. In November, Ztohoven invited visitors to a Prague gallery to send anonymous messages to the country’s politicians on an untraceable mobile phone. The group have frequently come into conflict with the law; one member, Roman Týc, was imprisoned for a month last year after amending traffic lights to show the red and green figures in various poses.
The film Ve stínu (In the Shadow) has swept the boards at the Czech Lions, the country’s annual movie awards ceremony. After being nominated in 11 categories, Ve stínu picked up prizes in nine – including Best Film, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Screenplay – at a ceremony at Prague’s Lucerna on Saturday night. A lifetime’s achievement award was presented to veteran art director Karel Černý, who won an Academy Award for his work on the 1984 Miloš Forman movie Amadeus.
The Czech runner Pavel Maslák has taken gold in the 400 metres at the European Indoor Championships in Sweden’s Gothenburg. In doing so, Maslák – who was in front for virtually the entire race on Sunday – set a new national record of 45.66 seconds; that was also the fastest time achieved in Europe this season.
The Czech tennis player Karolína Plíšková has won her first WTA title. The 20-year-old recovered from a poor start to beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States 1-6 7-5 6-3 in the final of the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday. It was the first time that Plíšková, ranked 127th in the world, had reached the final of a WTA tournament.
Sunday is the 130th anniversary of the birth of the internationally renowned Czech photographer František Drtikol. Drtikol, who studied in Munich, is known for his portraits, frequently of important people, and nudes, with his use of geometric decorations and shadows in composite portraits of nudes reflecting avant-garde trends in the interwar period. While interested in esoteric philosophy, he was also an active member of the Communist Party in the latter years of his life.
The Czech president, Václav Klaus, says his life would have been simpler if he had not declared an amnesty on January 1. Mr. Klaus, who steps down on Thursday, made the comment in an interview in the newspaper Právo. The president’s poll ratings fell in the wake of the amnesty, the most controversial plank of which halted cases – several involving alleged massive corruption – running for eight years or more and carrying sentences of at least a decade. Mr. Klaus told Právo that while his life would “obviously have been simpler” without the amnesty, he would not take a different approach today. The head of state said he had personally authored it, adding that questions about who had drafted it represented a “stupid media or political game”.
Mr. Klaus’s successor, Miloš Zeman, said on Saturday that the amnesty had also pardoned the incompetence of judges and state prosecutors, who had proven incapable of concluding cases in a timely manner. He repeated, however, that he was opposed to the amnesty. Mr. Zeman, who will be sworn in as president next Friday morning, also revealed that he had refused to sign the oath of allegiance with a gold-plated pen valued at CZK 1 million. It was offered to him by the South Bohemian firm Koh-i-noor Hardtmuth, which prior to its nationalisation provided pens to Czechoslovakia’s presidents. The president-elect said the company should donate the money to schools in its region.
Mr. Zeman told a conference of his Citizens’ Rights Party-Zemanites on Saturday that his success in the Czech Republic’s first direct presidential election did not automatically mean that the party would be successful in next year’s parliamentary vote. He said the main tasks facing the party were to prepare a high-quality manifesto and to find good candidates. In the last general election, the Citizens’ Rights Party-Zemanites received 4.3 percent of the vote, falling short of the 5 percent threshold required to enter the lower house.