On a working visit to Germany, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on
Friday paid homage to 677 Czech Nazi resistence fighters who were executed
in the Plotzensee jailhouse. Laying a wreath at the Plotzensee Memorial
Centre the prime minister said it was important that the heroic deeds of
resistance fighters should not be forgotten. Almost 3,000 executions were
conducted in the Plotzensee jailhouse between 1933 and 1945.
The Czech prime minister is on a two-day working visit to Germany, his first since taking office. His talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other top officials on Thursday focused on bilateral ties, European integration and the crisis in Ukraine. The Czech prime minister also visited the Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg; the German firm owns the Czech carmaker Škoda Auto.
The man charged with the murder of influential businessman and Social Democratic Party regional politician Roman Houska claims he was unaware of the victim’s identity. The killer, who reportedly fired four shots at Houska at the height of a violent quarrel, turned himself in on Thursday. He told the police he only learnt of the victims’ identity from media reports. The police say there is no question that the man is the culprit since in his testimony he revealed facts that could only have been known to the murderer.
The Interior Ministry reports a steep rise in the number of foreigners applying for Czech citizenship, according to Friday’s edition of the daily Lidové Noviny. The rise is being attributed to the change of legislation which now allows dual citizenship. In January of this year the number of applicants was four times higher than in the same period last year and the February figure was eight times higher –at 1226 applicants. Last year the ministry granted citizenship requests to 947 Ukrainians, 176 Poles, 176 Vietnamese and 142 Russians.
The police in south Bohemia are reported to have cracked down on a drug-smuggling ring operating at one of the Vietnamese open-air markets close to the border. A police spokeswoman said officers confiscated a kilogram of crystal methamphetamine with a street value of approximately one million crowns which was bound for Germany. The gang reportedly sold drugs to German and Austrian tourists and also smuggled drugs across the border themselves in small quantities. There is a nationwide search on for several members of the gang, but the gang leader – a woman – was reportedly detained in the crack-down.
The popular and widely respected Czech actor Otakar Brousek has died at the age of 89. Mr. Brousek was a member of the prestigious Vinohrady Theatre in Prague which he joined in 1959. Despite his advanced age he still appeared in the Czech version of the play Yes, Mr. Prime Minister which premiered in 2005. In 1996 Otakar Brousek received an award for his contribution to Czech dubbing and a few years ago he received the Thalia prize for his lifelong contribution to Czech theatre.
President Miloš Zeman will mark the first anniversary of his inauguration with a celebration at the Spanish Hall at Prague Castle on Friday. Over 250 people have been invited, including supporters of the head of state’s presidential campaign and figures from the spheres of public life and culture. However it is not an official state event and no politicians will be in attendance. Critics have questioned Mr. Zeman’s relatively broad interpretation of the powers of his office and interventions in party politics, though others credit him with an active and pro-European presidency.
Viktoria Plzeň were beaten 4:1 by the French club Olympic Lyonnais on Thursday night in the first leg of their round of 16 tie in the Europa League, European soccer’s second tier club competition. Plzeň got off to a bright start when Tomáš Hořava opened the scoring after two minutes, but the hosts drew level soon afterwards and took the lead in the second half. The second leg takes place in West Bohemia next Thursday.
The Czech Roman Catholic priest and professor Tomáš Halík has received the 2014 Templeton Prize, a UK-based award for “progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities”. The organisers said Monsignor Halík, who is 65, had risked imprisonment for illegally advancing religious and cultural freedoms after the Soviet invasion of his country, and had since become a leading international advocate for dialogue among different faiths and non-believers. The Templeton Prize comes with a monetary award of about USD 1.8 million.
The police have charged a man in connection with the murder of Roman Houska, an influential figure in the Social Democrats in Ústí nad Labem, north Bohemia. The suspect was arrested on Wednesday, the state attorney said. Mr. Houska was gunned down in front of his home in Chomutov in November in what appeared to be a contract killing. Media reports at the time described the businessman, who reportedly claimed to have compromising materials on opponents, as an eminence grise in politics in the region.
Speaking after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday, the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said his government wished to play an active role in the discussion on the future of Europe. Mr. Sobotka said European integration was in the interests of the Czech Republic as the country lay in the centre of the continent and worked closely with Eurozone states. For her part, Mrs. Merkel said she welcomed the pro-EU orientation of the new Czech government. Mr. Sobotka also held a meeting with the German president Joachim Gauck. On Friday the Czech leader is due to visit the HQ of Volkswagen, which owns the Czech-based Škoda Auto.