Around 1,000 people took part in a demonstration in support of the Russian rock band Pussy Riot outside the country’s embassy in Prague on Saturday. One of the organizers told the Czech News Agency that freedom was indivisible and that if people did not support it now in Russia, it would be threatened in the Czech Republic. Three members of Pussy Riot received prison terms in Moscow last year for performing a crude song in a cathedral in the city; one has since been released and one of the two still in custody is on hunger strike.
Prague’s privately owned DOX Centre for Contemporary Art on Saturday celebrated five years of existence by granting free admission and putting on a number of workshops and other events for the public. Since it first opened its doors in 2008, DOX has held over 100 exhibitions, with a focus on bringing leading international artists to the Czech capital. The multi-storey gallery complex in the city’s Holešovice district was built by a small group of businessmen; it receives some funding from the City of Prague but does not make a profit.
Ultra nationalists demonstrated in central Prague on Saturday against what they described as the Czech Republic’s decay in the post-1989 period. Around 120 people took part in the protest, bearing slogans such as “national identity instead of globalised grey masses” and chanting against multiculturalism. In a speech on Wenceslas Square, one of the organisers called on voters to back parties defending Czech national interests in next month’s election, adding that some sections of the population should have their voting rights removed. Another group, of around 40 people, held a counter demonstration entitled We Won’t Give Wenceslas to the Nazis. There were no clashes between the two sides.
The Czech Republic’s Tomáš Berdych has reached the final of the Thailand Open in Bangkok. It took the tournament’s top seed three hours to defeat France’s Gilles Simon 6-7 (5/7) 6-2 7-5 on Saturday. Berdych is looking for his first tournament win since Stockholm last October; the world number 7 is the player in the ATP top 10 not to have won a trophy in 2013.
A gathering of the far-right Workers Party of Social Justice culminated in clashes with the police in the Zábřeh district of the eastern city of Ostrava on Friday evening. The neo-fascists’ leader Tomáš Vandas said the group were protesting against the spread of hostels for “the inadaptable”, a term usually used to refer to the Roma minority. Around 1,000 people attempted to march on a hostel chiefly housing Romanies but were blocked by the police. Some members of the crowd then threw bottles, rocks and firecrackers at riot police, who responded with teargas. Several arrests were made and five people were charged. Tensions have been high between members of the majority population and Romanies in a number of Czech cities and towns in recent months.
People around the Czech Republic took part in masses and other events on Saturday to mark the day of St. Wenceslas (Václav), the country’s patron saint. Thousands of people attended a traditional pilgrimage held in Stará Boleslav, the small town near Prague where St. Wenceslas was murdered on September 28 907; the event culminated with a mass served by the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Czech Republic, Archbishop Dominik Duka. Saturday was a state holiday.
The Czech women’s tennis number one, Petra Kvitová, has won the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. The one-time Wimbledon champion recovered from a drubbing in the second set to beat Angela Berber of Germany 6-2 0-6 6-3 on Saturday. It is the 11th WTA title of Kvitová’s career and, after Dubai, her second of 2013. Her latest success should see her return to the top ten, specifically seventh, in the women’s rankings on Monday.
Prague Municipal Court gave the former head of the the Regional Council of the South-East Cohesion Region Jiří Trnka and his colleague Martin Půlpytel suspended three-year sentences for illegally manipulating European funding. Both men are accused of deliberately influencing the selection of projects for the 2009 Regional Operational Program funding call in order to secure equal funding for the Plzeň and the South Bohemian regions. The court also ruled that both men are prohibited from working with state funding, Mr. Trnka for five years and Mr. Půlpytel for four. Both deny the accusations and will most likely appeal the verdict.
Czech tennis star Petra Kvitová defeated 63th seed Venus Williams in the semi-final of the Torray Pan Pacific Open championship in Tokyo on Friday, with the score 3:6, 6:3, 7:6 (7:2). The two players have an even record of playing against each other. The 11th seeded Kvitová will face Angelique Kerber from of Germany in the final on Saturday. Czech top male tennis player Tomáš Berdych will be playing in the semi-final in Bangkok.
The Prague Public Transportation company (DPP) is around eight billion crowns in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy, the capital’s mayor Tomáš Hudeček said in an interview for Czech Television on Thursday evening. According to Mr. Hudeček, the main problem is a contract the company signed with Škoda Transportation in 2006 for 250 new trams to be delivered over 12 years, which is increasing the DPP’s debt by 2.3 billion crowns each year. The company says that they have encountered technical problems with all of the new 15T trams that were delivered so far, and have filed some 800 complaints with Škoda. If DPP fails to renegotiate the contract within the next six months, it will have to face major restructuring, according to the mayor.
Archaeologists unearth seven graves dating back to Great Moravian Empire
Czech Republic bracing for wind storm Sabine
Ron Perlman: Cinema is a much bigger art-form than superhero movies represent
“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
“Einstein in Bohemia” – part 1: how a Prague sojourn sparked his theory of general relativity, journey of self-discovery