Former political prisoners, who were persecuted in Communist Czechoslovakia, met in Jáchymov on Saturday to mark one of the darkest periods in the country's history. Jáchymov was the site of uranium mines where thousands were sentenced to hard labour in the Stalinist 1950s. Frantíšek Šedivý, deputy head of the Political Prisoners´ Confederation, said similar ceremonies needed to be held annually in other parts of the Czech Republic to ensure that people continued learning about the inhuman conditions inmates faced in the mines and labour camps. There were also calls for greater involvement by schools. Other representatives warned that the Communist Party, the fourth strongest in the lower house, has never come to terms with its past, namely crimes committed by the former regime.
Pilots of a government Airbus 319 - with Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas on board - considered making an emergency landing on Sunday after the cockpit windshield cracked. The crack appeared around halfway through the flight on route to Moscow; the pilots lowered the aircraft to a lower altitude for the rest of the journey. The spokeswoman for the General Staff of the Armed Forces said that passengers and crew had not been in danger, stressing that only the outer windshield had been damaged. The plane landed safely at its destination. Another aircraft, with the minister of trade & industry and business leaders on board, arrived without incident.
A fifteen-ducat coin dating back to the period of Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Matthias (1612-1619) sold in auction in Prague on Saturday for the reserve price of 1.9 million crowns not including a surcharge of 17 percent, Roman Veselý, from the Aurea auction house told CTK. The amount is close to the record price of over two million crowns for which a ten-ducat coin, also from Emperor Matthias´s era, was sold earlier. The historic coin was minted in Prague. Two additional rare coins put up for auction went unsold. One was Czech nobleman Jindřich Šlik´s ten-ducat coin from 1642, of which only two are known to have survived; it was offered for a reserve price of 900,000 crowns.
A row between himself and the president over the naming of new ambassadors could continue for some time yet the country's foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, has said. Speaking on a TV debate programme on Sunday, Mr Schwarzenberg revealed he had asked current ambassadors ending their tenure to remain in their posts. Questions over who will serve as ambassadors to Bratislava and Moscow, for example, remain unresolved. It is up to the foreign minister to nominate candidates and up to the president to approve them, but President Zeman and Mr Schwarzenberg, who faced each other as candidates in the second round of this year's presidential election, have not found common ground. The foreign minister has charged the president has ignored his constitutional duty.
MP and former education minister Josef Dobeš has been elected chairman of a new political movement focussing on sport and health, receiving 112 of 117 constituency votes. Mr Dobes was the only candidate for chairmanship. He told ČTK that he viewed sport as fundamentally important not only for active athletes but also for families with children and the elderly; he stressed he would seek to promote sports as a publicly beneficial activity and try and secure greater financial support for projects. He also said he aimed to work on new sports legislation. Dobeš, 49, a psychologist by training, was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 2010 for upstart party Public Affairs and became education minister in the centre-right cabinet of Petr Nečas. He later resigned from the post, citing the government´s austerity steps in the education sector, and left Public Affairs in 2012.
A condition for the Prague Civic Democrats entering into a new right-wing coalition with TOP 09 at Prague City Hall will be for Bohuslav Svoboda to return as the city's mayor; Mr Svoboda made the announcement himself after a meeting of regional representatives on Saturday evening. Svoboda was mayor for two-and-a-half years but was unseated last week in an assembly vote, after TOP 09 withdrew from their coalition with the Civic Democrats, citing concerns over the management of key areas including transportation and finance. TOP 09 are pursuing talks on a possible new agreement not only with the opposition Social Democrats but also with their former partners. TOP 09 has floated the idea that Mr Svoboda could return as deputy mayor in charge of the health sector, but rejected outright the idea of he could return as mayor.
The leader of the opposition Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, said on Friday that his party will not give an official recommendation on how its Prague branch should proceed following the collapse this week of the coalition at City Hall between TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats. He stressed that the next move was up to TOP 09, adding that his own party needed to act in the interest of its voters, saying that a coalition was not a priority. TOP 09 joined forces with the Social Democrats this week to oust Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda and two Civic Democrat councillors from office; negotiations on a possible coalition between TOP 09 and the Social Democrats have already begun, sources said.
Six thousand members of the Sokol athletics organisation met in Roudnice nad Labem on Saturday to take part in calisthenics exercises at the local stadium before heading to the famous mountain in Bohemia known as Říp. The hill has a key place in Czech legend, referred to as the first place the Slavs settled. On Sunday, members of Sokol, many from chapters abroad, will hold a parade through the town to mark the 120th anniversary of the patriotic sports movement.
Police on Friday night conducted checks at bars, night clubs, strip clubs, and gambling venues in the area of Prague’s Wenceslas Square. A special police unit, together with the municipal police, also patrolled all three lines of the city’s metro system; over the course of the evening sixteen people were detained – one on the suspicion of carrying false identification. Another was wanted by police state-wide, while one had illegal drugs on his person. Nine of those detained were foreign nationals. In all, officers checked the IDs of 240 people and looked into more than 30 venues.
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