The Czech Republic’s Jewish Community says expressions of anti-Semitism are growing in the country, mainly on the internet. In an annual report, the community attributed the increase to rising tensions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the pro-Israeli stance of the Czech government and the fact that Jan Fischer, who is Jewish, stood in presidential elections. However, the report said that anti-Semitism was not common in the Czech Republic and that the number of physical incidents had not increased on recent years. An official said a controversial government bill to return property to churches had also contributed to antipathy towards Jews.
Czech ice hockey players David Krejčí and Jaromír Jágr contributed to a remarkable turnaround for their club Boston Bruins on Monday; their assists that led to a goal that tied a NHL key game with less than one minute remaining. Boston, who had been losing 1:4, went on to beat Toronto in overtime and in so doing take their playoff first round 4:3 on games.
Union leaders and representatives of the Czech Republic’s spas have demanded an immediate halt to changes in the system of spa treatment. They say the very existence of the country’s spas has been threatened by a shortening of the average length of stays and a marked reduction in payment for treatment by health insurers. Doctors have reportedly become afraid to prescribe spa care even in cases where they are still able to do so. The unions and spa owners have called for a meeting with the minister of health to address the problem.
President Miloš Zeman is back at work after suffering from a viral infection, the president’s office has said, stressing he will spend most of the workweek at his desk to further aid his recovery. Mr Zeman attended the opening of the Prague Spring Music Festival on Sunday but was visibly unwell only a few days ago at a ceremony of bringing the crown jewels out of storage. During the official ceremony, the president, who is 69, had to prop himself against a wall to keep from swaying, sparking broad speculation over the cause of the problem.
Cardinal Dominik Duka took part in a commemorative ceremony for Romany victims of the Holocaust at the Lety memorial in southern Bohemia on Monday. The event was attended by a number of foreign ambassadors, cultural dignitaries and Roma representatives. Czech political leaders were notably absent this year, with the exception of the deputy speaker of the Senate Miluše Horská. The Lety memorial, unveiled in 1995 by then president Václav Havel, is situated close to the site of a former concentration camp for Romanies where 300 Romany prisoners lost their lives and from where hundreds of others were transported to the Auschwitz extermination camp. The fact that a pig farm is located on the site of the former camp has been the source of considerable controversy and embarrassment to the Czech government which says it does not have the money to relocate it.
For the Boston Bruins, with Czech players David Krejčí and star forward Jaromír Jágr, it will be “do or die” in the final game of their best-of-seven series against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night in the first round of the NHL playoffs. Krejčí leads in the playoffs on goals, having scored five (including a hat trick) against Toronto; Jágr managed an assist in Game 6 but has been less of a presence. Toronto, by comparison, has seen strong performances by its goaltender, James Reimer, and players like Phil Kessel, who was key to Toronto’s forcing a seventh game.
Elementary schools across the country on Monday held a second mock exam to test levels of knowledge and the capabilities of students in grades five and nine. Children are being tested in the Czech language, math, as well as foreign languages. Around 1,000 parents have come out against the exam, claiming it was not objective.
In related news, a gas leak was detected on Monday not far from Prague’s Main Station. Gas leaked for several dozen minutes, officials said, after someone dismantled a gas tap at a nearby abandoned building. The leak was stopped by workers from the Pražská plynárenská gas company. The discovery of the leak was not connected to checks of gas piping taking place in the city on Monday, a spokesman said; because of the leak, traffic was disrupted for a time at Prague’s Magistrála throughway.
The country’s president, Miloš Zeman, was questioned by the Czech anti-corruption police in February over the allegedly fraudulent privatisation of Czech mining company Mostecká uhelná, Czech TV reported a day before a Swiss court began dealing with the case. Six former managers at the company are accused of having illegally transferred 150 million dollars from the firm and of having bought a majority stake in the coal giant for the money. The police suspect them of having conducted the deal at a considerably lower price. The privatisation of Mostecká uhelná took place under the government headed by then-prime minister Miloš Zeman, who told the police that the price was the decisive factor; he dismissed the idea that the state lost any money in the deal.
The national team will have to beat Norway on Tuesday to advance to the knockout stages at the Ice Hockey World Championship. A loss on Sunday against Team Canada put the Czechs on the brink of being knocked out of the tournament; the squad, however, gained a reprieve with Switzerland’s 3:1 defeat of Norway later on Sunday evening. Norway are a point ahead of the Czechs in their group standings. Switzerland has been the Cinderella story of this year’s championship, remaining the only undefeated team.
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