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.
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.
The traditional Saint Václav pilgrimage has begun on Friday evening with the transport of the patron saint’s relics from Prague to the town of Stará Boleslav, where he was murdered in the 10th century. The majority of religious events of the celebration will begin on Saturday morning with a mass on Stará Boleslav’s Mariánské square, which will be led by the Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka. President Miloš Zeman will not be attending this year’s celebration, breaking with tradition set by his predecessor Václav Klaus, instead he will be celebrating his 69th birthday on Saturday.
The Prague police have recommended to the state prosecutor to indict an editor at the weekly magazine Reflex, Jiří X. Doležal, and the former deputy editor-in-chief Jaroslav Plesl for propagating the use of drugs. The police charged both men in August after an edition of the magazine came out containing a blurry picture, which was supposed to appear in focus once the reader smoked marijuana. The magazine also contained cigarette rolling papers and a notice on the front cover indicating that they were to be used to roll a marihuana joint. Mr. Doležal was the author of the article, and Mr. Plesl was at the time of printing filling in for the editor-in-chief. If the state attorney chooses to prosecute the case, the two men could face up to five years in jail or a fine if found guilty.
The Czech police have arrested six Vietnamese and three Austrian citizens over the sale of methamphetamine, a spokeswoman for the anti-drug unit of the police said. The Vietnamese face accusations of selling the illicit drug to foreign nationals at a marketplace in Kaplice, in southern Bohemia; the Austrians allegedly resold the drug in Austria. During several house searches, the police seized 1.2 kilograms of methamphetamine with a street value of two million crowns. The detained foreign nationals face up to 12 years in prison.
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