Some 8,000 people marched through the centre of the Czech capital on Saturday in support of marihuana legalization, part of the international Million Marihuana March event. Organizers said the number of participants was higher than last year; two people were arrested over for possesing small amounts of dry cannabis, a police spokesman said. Under Czech law, possession or growing of marihuana for personal use is a minor offence; earlier this year, however, the anti-drug unit of the Czech police raided a number of shops offering marihuana seeds and equipment for growing the illicit drug, raising concerns of a more stricter approach towards recreational marihuana growers and users.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Saturday commemorated Romany victims of the Holocaust at the site of the former concentration camp in Lety, in southern Bohemia. Mr Sobotka said his government would not release funds necessary to remove a pig farm, established at the site in the 1970s, and suggested the money be instead used for the education of Romany children. Some 1,300 Czech Romanies passed through the camp between 1940 and 1943; round 330 of them died there, while another 500 were deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Prague Mayor Tomáš Hudeček, several local mayors and members of the public honoured Czech victims of Communism in Prague on Saturday, the news agency ČTK reported. Mr Hudeček warned against questioning the crimes of Communism, and said the motivation of those who sided with the regime needed to be studied. Some 250 people were executed by the Communist authorities and another 8,000 died in jail. An estimated 250,000 people left the country during the four decades of Communist rule. The gathering took place at a cemetery in Prague’s Motol district where the ashes of dozens of anti-Communist activists were secretly buried in the 1950s and 60s.
The leader of the Dawn party’s ballot for the European elections, Klára Samková, has been given until Monday to step down over allegations of fraud. Ms Samková, who is an attorney, faces accusations that last year, she acted as a front for a company that wanted to buy its own debt from a bank, an illegal transaction under Czech law. Dawn party leader Tomio Okamura told reporters on Saturday that if Ms Samková does not quit by Monday, she would be removed from the ballot. Klára Samková, meanwhile, has denied any wrongdoing. In a statement, she said the accusations were deliberately meant to hurt her chances in the elections.
The CTP developer firm has renewed efforts to build an distribution centre for the online retailer Amazon, the news agency ČTK reported on Saturday. The firm has again applied for an environmental impact assessment of the project despite the fact that earlier this year, Amazon said it dropped the plans over opposition from Brno’s City Hall. However, councillors approved the project last month. Amazon is planning to invest around 2.7 billion crowns in the distribution centre that should create up to 2,000 new jobs; another such facility should be built in Dobrovíz outside Prague.
The Czech Interior Ministry has found that the police broke no laws when they raided two Islamic centres in Prague two weeks ago, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said after a meeting the police president. The organized crime unit of the Czech police raided a mosque and an Islamic community centre in the capital, quoting the distribution of a racist book as the reason. The operation came under criticism by Muslim community leaders as well as some foreign diplomats and public figures. On Friday, Minister Chovanec said he had asked police bosses to consider all possible aspects and risks of any such operation in the future.
The Czech national hockey team defeated Slovakia 3:2 in their opening game at the world championships in Minsk, Belarus, on Friday night. The Czechs went ahead early but the in the second period saw the Slovaks dominate the game, scoring two goals. However, Jaromír Jágr equalized late in the third period, forcing an overtime. Some two minutes into overtime, Jakub Klepiš found the net, securing the Czech team’s win. The Czechs are next playing Sweden on Sunday at the world championships in Minsk.
Top Czech women’s tennis player Petra Kvitová has reached the semifinals in Madrid after American Serena Williams withdrew from the competition due to injury. Fellow Czech Tomáš Berdych, however, failed to advance in the men’s field, losing to World No. 1 Rafael Nadal 6:4, 6:2. Berdych, ranked sixth in the world, has now lost to Nadal in their last 17 match-ups.
Former president Václav Klaus has defended his decision to attend an event at the Russian embassy in Prague marking Victory Day (May 9) the end of the Second World War for the former Soviet Union. Mr Klaus attended the banquet even though members of the current government chose not to, and his successor, Miloš Zeman, sent his head of international affairs at the Office of the President in his stead. Russia has come under increased criticism from the EU and the United States in recent days and weeks for intervention in Ukraine, including the annexation of Crimea. Mr Klaus told the news website iDnes he remembered the end of the war well even though he was only a little boy at the time. He made clear the anniversary needed to be met with respect.
A pilot had to be airlifted to hospital on Friday after crashing a
cropduster in a field in the Náchod area. Emergency crews arriving at the
scene found the agricultural aircraft shattered and on its roof, some 50
metres from the nearest road.
Two weeks ago, an ultralight crashed in the area with two people on board. They suffered only minor injuries and were treated on the spot.