Some 400 Ukrainians living in the Czech Republic rallied in Prague on Sunday in support of anti-government protests in Ukraine. A procession which arrived in Old Town Square in the capital shouted slogans, carried photos of people beaten by the police in Kiev, and prayed. The rally criticized Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovich who they said was waging a war against his own people. An estimated 200,000 people from Ukraine live in the Czech Republic where they account for the largest ethnic minority.
The office of the Czech president has accused the news website idnes.cz of
putting President Miloš Zeman at risk by releasing the news of his
trip to Afghanistan. A spokesman for the president said the website
directly jeopardized the president’s security by reporting on the trip
Saturday morning, at a time when Mr Zeman was flown to a military base
outside Kabul. The website dismissed the accusations, arguing they only
released general information about the trip without giving details of the
Miloš Zeman arrived in Afghanistan on Friday to visit Czech troops stationed in the country and to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Mr Zeman is the first Czech head of state to visit Czech soldiers in the conflict-torn country.
The incoming interior minister, Milan Chovanec of the Social Democrats, on Sunday stepped down as governor of the Plzeň region. His successor will be chosen by the regional council which is to convene on Monday. Social Democrat leadership gave governors who were elected MPs in October to either step down or retain their positions but resign as deputies. The measure has been criticized by some prominent party officials, most notably by South Moravia governor and MP Michal Hašek.
The Green Party elected new leadership at its congress in Prague over the weekend. Delegates re-elected Ondřej Liška the party chairman; the 36 year-old Liška received 125 out of 198 votes on Saturday. On Sunday, the congress elected deputy party chairs including Martin Stropický, Pavla Brady, and Martin Ander. The party, which failed to win seats in the lower house in two last elections, wants to focus on the upcoming voting for European Parliament scheduled for May.
The movie Burning Bush by Polish director Agnieszka Holland won six Czech Film Critics awards at a ceremony in Prague on Saturday night. The movie, focusing on the aftermath of the 1969 self-immolation of Jan Palach, won the awards for best film, director, screenplay, cinematography, supporting actress and music. Jiří Schmitzer received the prize for best actor for his role in the film Like Never Before while Petra Špalková, who starred in the same film, won the award for best actress. The award for best documentary was handed out to the creators of Show!, a film depicting the birth of a girls’ pop band.
The quality of air in the polluted Ostrava region has slightly improved, the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute said on Sunday. Emissions limits were exceeded at nearly all measuring stations in the area but meteorologists expect dispersion conditions to keep improving. The Moravia-Silesia region in one of the most polluted in Europe due to heavy industry on both sides of the Czech-Polish border, as well as heavy traffic and the fact that many homes use low-quality coal for heating.
A Czech snowboarder suffered injuries in an avalanche he and his companion triggered near Pitztahl, in the Austrian Alps, on Sunday, the news agency APA reported. The two 40-year-old Czechs were snowboarding outside of designated ski slopes despite the fact an avalanche warning was in place, the agency said. They immediately triggered an avalanche; one of them managed to free himself from the snow, the other was dragged for some 300 metres. The injured man was airlifted to hospital.
Saturday night has been the coldest this winter so far, with temperatures dropping below -20 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country. The lowest temperature was recorded in Jizerka, in eastern Bohemia. Frost and snow have causes traffic complications particularly in elevated regions where roads are covered with ice and hard snow. Drivers have been warned to exercise extra caution. Meteorologists expect the freezing weather to continue until Monday.
President Miloš Zeman is visiting Czech troops stationed in Afghanistan,
the first Czech head of state to do so. Mr Zeman, who arrived in Kabul on
Friday, has also met with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai. The Czech
president visited military installations in Kabul and Bagram where handed
out parcels with Czech food products and
films. Mr Zeman is set to return to the Czech Republic on Sunday.
There are more than 260 Czech soldiers serving in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s ISAF mission who are set to withdraw later this year, along with other allied troops. Mr Zeman was scheduled to visit the troops at the end of last year but had to postpone the visit due to health issues.
Ondřej Liška was re-elected chairman of the Green Party at the party’s congress in Prague on Saturday. Liška, who has led the party since 2009, received 125 out of 198 votes. The 36-year-old former education minister said the party should focus on May’s European eletions, followed by local elections in October. He also suggested the Greens form a team of spokesperosns for key policy areas. The Green Party failed to reach the lower house of parliament in 2010 and 2013 but two senators were elected on the paty’s ballot in 2012.