Ahead of the planned anti-Romany protests in six Czech towns and cities, the Roma community and their supporters expressed disapproval of extremism on Saturday. In the south Bohemian České Budějovice, slogans on the pavement along the planned route of the demonstration appeared overnight. The slogans express an anti-extremist sentiment and question neo-Nazi ideology. In Brno, Jičín and Plzeň people are planning happenings, picnics and counter-demonstrations against extremism and violence. A few hundred people, who are mostly Romany, gathered in the city of Ostrava at a sanctioned meeting. The police have said that they are ready for the anti-Romany rallies and have sent anti-riot units and conflict resolution teams to all the locations.
The head of the Organized Crime Unit of the Czech Police Robert Šlachta has sent a letter addressed to members of parliament warning them against tampering with evidence or obstructing the investigations of the cases connected to the former prime minister’s chief of staff Jana Nagyová. The police had requested the lower house of parliament to provide them with videotapes and records of the MPs movements within the parliamentary building in July. Politicians from both sides of the aisle have so far refused, saying that the request is an encroachment on the rights of the legislative powers by the executive. Mr. Šlachta issued a stern warning after rules for the storage of information about MPs were changed this week, instructing deputies to get rid of all data by the end of their term in office. The new regulation means that the information the police needs for investigating alleged bribery could be destroyed within days.
The majority of the anti-Romany demonstrations that took place in seven cities and towns around the country have ended without major conflicts and with fairly minimal attendance. The police faced the biggest clashes with extremists in Ostrava and České Budějovice. In both cities, demonstrators changed the approved route of the rallies and attempted to get near neighborhoods with large Roma populations. In Ostrava, around 600 extremists threw stones, garbage cans and sticks at the police. At least 20 people were detained there, and approximately 15 in the city of Plzeň, where around 400 people attended the anti-Romany demonstration. In other places attendance was much lower and demonstrations ended without incidents.
The top Czech female tennis player Petra Kvitová sailed into the New Haven Open final after beating her compatriot Klára Zakopalová in two quick sets on Friday afternoon, with the final score 6:0, 6:1. The 2012 New Haven champion will be defending her title on Saturday against the Romanian 23rd seed Simona Halep. The only WTA event Kvitová won this year was the Dubai Championship in March.
The police are ready for anti-Romany rallies expected in five Czech cities on Saturday, a spokeswoman for the police said. Anti-Romany gatherings, organized by far-right extremists, are to take place in Ostrava, Plzeň, České Budějovice, Jičín and Duchcov. The police have information about the expected turnout at the rallies, the spokeswoman said, adding that riot units of the police have prepared accordingly. In two places – in Ostrava and Plzeň, Romany and human rights groups are planning to stage their own protests against racism. The Czech Republic has seen a rise in ethnic tensions in recent months; experts say the phenomenon is fuelled by falling living standards of low-income strata of the society.
The Czech Senate will reject legislation that would cut taxes for investment funds and introduce a zero tax on dividends, Senate speaker Milan Štěch and Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka told reporters on Friday. The Social Democrats control the Senate with 46 out of 81 seats. The officials said the legislation, put forth by the previous centre-right government and approved by the lower house, would result in serious losses for the state budget. However, the bills are part of legislation needed for a new civil code to enter into force on January 1, 2014. Mr Stěch said the government could deal with the situation via the so-called legal measures the Senate can adopt while the lower house is dissolved.
Around 20 dead birds of prey have been found near Litoměřice in northern Bohemia in recent days, the Czech Ornithological Society said. The birds were apparently poisoned, and the case in under police investigation. Ornithologists, who believe they found a poison bait in the area, says this is the most serious case of bird poisoning in recent years.
Deputy chair of the Green Party, and the group’s former leader Martin Bursík on Friday said he was leaving the Greens over their alleged shift to the left. Mr Bursík said the party was preparing to join a wide left-wing coalition conceived by President Zeman; he decided to leave the party after its leadership rejected his proposals to rule out cooperation with the Communists. Martin Bursík served as chairman of the Green Party between 2005 and 2009; under his leadership, the party joined a centre-right coalition cabinet led by the Civic Democrats, a move criticized by many of the party’s supporters.
The Social Democrats remain in the lead in a new election survey by the Median agency released on Friday. The party would receive 32 percent of the vote, followed by the Communists with 15.5 percent. The conservative former coalition party TOP 09 would came in third with 15 percent while the Civic Democrats would receive 13.5 percent of the vote. The president’s SPOZ group would win around 5 percent. The survey suggests that the Christian Democrats, the Greens and other parties would not pass the 5-percent threshold to enter the lower house. Over 63 percent of those polled said they would take part in the election.
Liberec stunned the Italian side Udinese 3:1 in Trieste on Thursday night in the first leg of the Europa League’s final qualification round. The hosts dominated the game while Liberec only took three shots at the goal, and converted all of them. This gives the Czech side a great advantage for the second leg, scheduled in Liberec for next week. Another Czech club, Jablonec, lost to Spain’s Real Betis at home 2:1 in their Europa League qualifier on Thursday.
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