Close to two hundred people attended a commemorative ceremony for the victims of communism at Prague’s Motol crematorium on Saturday. The event, organized by the Confederation of Political Prisoners, was attended by leading top officials, former dissidents and families of the deceased. Speaking near a mass grave where the communists buried those whom they executed, tortured to death or shot at the country’s borders, the speaker of the lower house of Parliament, Miroslava Nemcová, said the past must never be forgotten and warned against efforts to belittle the crimes of the communist regime.
Preparatory work for extensive repairs on the D1 highway from Prague to Brno has had to be postponed due to heavy rain. Workers were due to mark restrictions for drivers on several stretches of the road in preparation for channeling traffic into a single lane. The country’s main highway will remain open to traffic throughout its reconstruction due to concerns that de-tours would immeasurably burden surrounding towns and villages. The speed limit along the stretches where work is underway will be lowered to 80 km per hour.
Close to 100 Romany representatives from around the Czech Republic are meeting in Prague to finalize preparations for the establishment of the Romany Democratic Party. The head of the preparatory committee Miroslav Tancos told the CTK news agency the circumstances of the Romany minority would not improve unless it was represented in politics. There are around 250,000 Romanies living in the Czech Republic and a third of them live in slums. A vast number of Romanies are unemployed. An earlier Romany party, set up in 2005, was dissolved by the Supreme Administrative court two years ago, for failing to meet the conditions stipulated by law.
President Miloš Zeman is reported to be feeling better and plans to attend the opening of the Prague Spring Music Festival on Sunday night, his spokeswoman Hana Burianová said on Saturday. The president’s office reported on Friday that President Zeman was suffering from a viral infection and would need a few days’ rest. Mr. Zeman appeared unwell and was visibly unstable at Thursday’s ceremony of bringing the crown jewels out of storage, sparking speculation regarding the cause of the problem.
An ultra light plane carrying two people crashed into a training facility near Vrchlabi Airport, eastern Bohemia, shortly after mid-day on Saturday. The pilot and passenger, both German nationals, suffered serious injuries and were airlifted to hospital in Hradec Kralove. The training facility used by the airport was empty at the time of the accident and no other injuries have been reported.
A passenger train en route from Březová nad Svitavou to Křenovice, in southern Moravia, caught fire in the early hours of Saturday. All passengers and crew were evacuated in time. Although fire fighters were at the site of the accident within minutes the fire is reported to have caused considerable damage, now estimated at around half a million crowns. The cause of the accident is being investigated. The route was re-opened to traffic by 9am.
Extremist parties in the Czech Republic have managed to rally more supporters through social networks, according to an Interior Ministry report to be debated by the government next Wednesday. Extremist parties both right and left are using the Internet to drum up support especially among the young generation, the report says. Right-wing extremists in particular have increased their activities through social networking, holding 48 neo-Nazi concerts in 2012 as opposed to just 18 the previous year. Right wing extremists also maintain close contacts with similar organizations abroad, particularly in neighbouring Germany and Slovakia.
Hundreds of people have been lining up to view the Czech crown jewels which are now on display in the Vladislav Hall of Prague Castle. The crown jewels only go on public display on special occasions. This year they are being shown for ten days on the occasion of the election of President Miloš Zeman. The crown jewels include the St. Wenceslas crown, which Charles IV had made in 1347, the coronation crucifix also from the 14th century, as well as the royal sceptre and the royal apple from the first half of the 16 th century. Thousands of people are expected to view these symbols of Czech statehood in the next ten days.
Czech annual inflation remains unchanged at 1.7 percent, which is in line with market expectations and slightly below the forecast of the Czech National Bank (1.8 percent). Consumer prices rose by 0.1 on the month in April, driven by the higher prices of clothing, footwear, alcohol and tobacco products. On the other hand, the price of foodstuffs, primarily pastry and dairy products, decreased slightly. Separate data released by the Czech Labour Ministry on Friday showed the April jobless rate at 7.7 percent down from 8.0 percent.
The national vehicle registration system was out of operation for over three hours on Friday morning, the CTK news agency reports. According to the Transport Ministry the problem was not linked to the system itself but was due to a failure between the system and the police data base to which it is connected. The new system which is linked to the Schengen database has been dogged by problems since it was introduced in July of last year. As of April the system changed hands and is now being administered by ICT and Telephonica.
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