Czechs mark the Day of Struggle for Freedom and Democracy on Sunday, a public holiday. In Prague’s Národní třída, top Czech officials, lawmakers, freedom fighters and other public figures are to pay tribute to students who triggered the Velvet Revolution of 1989, eventually toppling the communist regime. Another event, held at a student dorm in the centre of the capital, commemorate the Nazi oppression of Czech university students in 1939. Speaking at the student halls, Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok told the gathering the legacy of November 17 must be passed on to younger generations.
Around 150 right-wing extremists have gathered in Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Sunday, the 24th anniversary of the fall of communism. Supporters of the extremist Workers’ Party of Social Justice criticized the post-communist regime, the EU as well as alleged limits to the freedom of speech. Several hundred metres away, some 500 people came together to protest against right-wing extremism, and what they believe is an abuse of the anniversary. The police are keeping both group separate, the news agency ČTK reported.
In related news, the National Museum is ion Sunday holding a collection of memorabilia from the Velvet Revolution of 1989. The museum is asking members of the public to donate photographs, video footage, sound recordings, etc. in the museum’s building on top of Prague’s Wenceslas Square. The museum also wants to record people’s personal memories from that time. Selected items will be featured at next year’s exhibition marking 25 years since the fall of communism in the country.
The first ever nationwide collection of food, held in 111 shops and supermarkets across the Czech Republic on Saturday, was a success, organizers said. In some stores, up to 700 kilos of durable foodstuffs were donated, according to Pavlína Kalousová from the group Business for Society which organized the collection. Shoppers were encouraged to donate some of the food they just bought; the donations will be handed to homeless shelters, retirement homes and families in financial crisis. The total amount of donated food will be released later on Sunday.
The anticorruption unit of the Czech police has charged two people over a public contract handed out by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry last year, the news agency ČTK reported. The men, one of whom served as a ministry official, the other as a court-appointed expert, face charges of abuse of power and fraud, among others. Prosecutors say the men manipulated a tender to improve the system of welfare payments; if the deal had not been stopped by the anti-monopoly office, the state would suffer a loss of around one billion crowns, a spokesman for the prosecution said.
A newborn boy was discovered in a baby hatch in Teplice, in north Bohemia, in the early hours of Sunday, the founder of the Czech baby box system said. The boy was wrapped in a towel and had his umbilical cord tied with a shoe lace, doctors said. The newborn received the name Milan; he became the 95th baby retrieved from baby boxes since their introduction in the Czech Republic in 2006. There are now around 60 baby hatches in various places in the country.
The Czech Republic has beaten Serbia to win the Davis Cup, defending last year’s title. The Czechs made history as Radek Štěpánek scored the decisive third point of the finals, defeating Serbia’s Dušan Lajovič 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 on Sunday night. The Czech team was ahead leading 2-1 after Saturday’s doubles but on Sunday, Czech number one Tomáš Berdych lost to Novak Djokovič 4-6, 6-7, 2- 6. In the final game, however, Radek Štěpánek was able to score the winning point.
The Czech interim government is next week set to discuss amendments to the penal code that would increase the protection of children against sexual abuse, the news agency ČTK reported on Saturday. The draft legislation introduces two new crimes – establishing unauthorized contacts with children, and participation in pornographic performances. The cabinet will also discuss legislation increasing the penalties for human trafficking as well as racism and xenophobia. Part of the draft legislation was approved by the government earlier this year but could not reach the lower house which dissolved itself in the meantime.
Air pollution in the northeast Czech Republic has far exceeded the permitted levels. On Saturday morning, the emissions in most of the Moravian-Silesian Region reached double the value of legal limits, according to a report by the news agency ČTK. The worst affected areas include Karviná and several nearby municipalities. Meteorologists don’t expect any change in the local conditions, and say air pollution levels will remain way above the limit over the next 24 hours.
A nationwide collection of food for the poor started in 111 shops and supermarkets across the country at 8 AM on Saturday. In the first such event to be held in the Czech Republic, shoppers are encouraged to buy foodstuffs and donate them to a food bank which will hand the food out to homeless shelters, retirement homes and families in financial crisis, the organizers said. The collection will conclude at 8 PM. Around 10 percent of the Czech population is under the poverty line but another 1.7 million people are threatened by poverty.