The presidents of the Visegrad group countries said Russia’s annexation of Crimea last March was an aggression. The presidents of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in the Slovak capital on Sunday, marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of communism. The heads of state also agreed that the EU’s sanctions against Russia were necessary, according to Slovak President Andrej Kiska. The statements contradict Czech President Miloš Zeman’s earlier positions; at a conference organized by a close ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin in September, Mr Zeman said the sanctions were ineffective and called for them to be lifted.
The Czech and Slovak prime ministers, Bohuslav Sobotka and Robert Fico, have criticized the influence of business on politics. Mr Sobotka, who appeared along with his Slovak counterpart in a debate on Czech TV on Sunday, said entrepreneurs had discredited political parties. Both cabinet leaders suggested transparent financing of political parties could help curb business people’s influence on politics. The Czech prime minister also expressed disagreement with President Miloš Zeman who has questioned the brutality the communist police used against protesters on November 17, 1989. Mr Sobotka said the operation was “extraordinarily brutal” and should not be trivialized.
Developments following the fall of communism in then Czechoslovakia have failed the expectations of most Czechs and Slovaks, according to a survey for Czech and Slovak public broadcasters. In the Czech Republic, 54 percent of those polled said they were disappointed while in Slovakia, their share reached 70 percent. Difficult social conditions were given as the most frequent complaint in both countries. However, the survey’s authors said the results did not suggest people would be unhappy about the change but rather that their expectations had been greater.
Czech forward Jakub Voráček scored two assists for the Philadelphia Flyers against Montreal on Saturday night, and moved to the top of the NHL’s scoring charts with 26 points. The second most productive Czech, Jiří Hudler of the Calgary Flames, has scored 14 points and is ranked 50th in the statistics .
Czech hospitals will not accept Syrian patients for treatment as part of the international MEDEVAC programme, the news website lidovky.cz reports. In areas with the presence of the Islamic State People hostile to the Czech Republic could pose as patients, a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry told the website. In the past, 14 child and adult patients from Syria received treatment in the Czech Republic. The change in attitude has been criticized by the Czech Catholic Church; treating small groups of people suffering in a humanitarian crisis in the Middle East is in line with our society’s fundamental values, the Czech Bishops’ Conference said.
Nearly 120 theatre ensembles in 29 Czech cities and towns are participating in the European Theatre Night on Saturday. The event, which is held for the second time in the Czech Republic, offers shows free of charge, and hold open doors days for visitors. Some theatres also put on special programmes including bicycle rides, photography contests, and other events. In total, 11 European countries are taking part in Theatre Night 2014.
The Velvet Revolution of 1989 was triggered by a false report of a student death rather than by police brutality against protesting students, President Miloš Zeman said at a debate on the 25th anniversary of the events in Prague on Saturday. The student march on November 17 which was attacked by communist riot police was one of many similar protests, and the police did not behave more brutally than on other such occasions, according to the president.
Prague’s Na Homolce hospital “ineffectively, uneconomically and unaccountably” spent 3.4 billion crowns, or nearly 154 million US dollars, over the past five years, the news agency ČTK reported on Saturday quoting a Health Ministry audit. Another more than 350 million crowns were spent without proper authorization, according to the report which is to be presented to the lower house of Parliament. In June, the hospital’s former director was arrested on corruption charges, along with several of his collaborators.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has approved the nomination of Dan Ťok for the post of transport minister, Mr Ťok told reporters after meeting with the prime minister on Saturday. Dan Ťok, who has served as CEO of Skanska, one of the country’s biggest construction firms, was nominated by the ANO party to replace Antonín Prachař who resigned earlier this week. Mr Ťok said he had dispelled the prime minister’s concerns of a possible conflict of interest, and answered all of the prime minister’s questions about his plans in the post. It is not yet clear when Mr Ťok could be appointed minister.
Thousands of believers attended a mass in honour of St Agnes of Bohemia in St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle on Saturday, the news agency ČTK reported. The service, attended by President Miloš Zeman and other Czech officials, was celebrated by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican’s secretary of state, along with the head of the Czech Catholic Church, Cardinal Dominik Duka. Cardinal Parolin said the canonization of Agnes, a mediaeval royal princess, in November 1989 was a prelude to the Velvet Revolution which ended communist rule in then Czechoslovakia.