Plzeň's Capital of Culture celebrations will kick off on Saturday with a grand opening ceremony, featuring more than 150 artists from the Czech Republic and abroad, the largest video mapping in the country and the sound of new bells from the local cathedral. A wide variety of events have been planned over the weekend and around 600 events have been planned in the course of 2015. Plzeň is the fourth largest city in the Czech Republic, with almost 170,000 inhabitants.
The BIS counter-intelligence does not have any information which would indicate that the Czech Republic faces an immediate risk of a terrorist attack, its spokesman Jan Šubert told the ctk news agency on Friday. The BIS announcement came in reaction to a statement by Europol head Rob Wainwright who said Europe now faces the highest terror threat since the 9/11 attacks in the US. "We do not have any information from our domestic sources or from our partners abroad about any immediate danger threatening the Czech Republic” Šubert said. The Czech government announced recently it was stepping up security at key institutions in the country.
Some 300 people attended a protest against Islam on Prague’s Hradčany Square on Friday evening. The event was organized by the group We Do Not Want Islam in the Czech Republic who have been increasingly vocal in protesting the presence of Muslims in the country. Among those who attended the gathering were a number of politicians, including deputy chair of the Dawn party Marek Černoch, Civic Democrat MP Jana Černochova and Senator Jaroslav Doubrava. The protest passed without incident.
The Supreme Court has ruled that it is unacceptable to use the DNA of a deceased person without their prior consent as evidence in court. The ruling relates to a case in which a woman used a deceased person’s DNA to prove paternity in an inheritance battle. She secretly took samples from a man whom she claimed to be her father after his death. The judge ruled that a deceased person’s remains are protected under the law and the person’s rights cannot be violated.
Police investigating the case of a young American who fell from Prague’s Hlavkov Bridge into the Vltava River and suffered serious injuries have asked potential witnesses to come forward. They are in particular looking for the man who left the American’s wallet and IDs but ran off before the police could question him. The incident happened on New Year’s Eve. The young man fell into the river and was apparently able to swim to shore but because the place was deserted he was left lying helpless in the freezing cold for ten hours before passers-by noticed him. Police say the fall may have been preceded by a fight. The American remains in a coma in hospital.
President Miloš Zeman’s spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček, has tried to tone down a highly controversial statement made by the head of state against inclusive education. On a visit to the regions, President Zeman said he was against handicapped children being taught at regular schools, saying this was a misery both for healthy and handicapped pupils who needed special attention. The statement elicited criticism from all sides, including from the head of the National Disability Council,Václav Krása and the country’s Ombudswoman, Anna Šabatová. Mr. Ovčáček said the president had not meant to insult handicapped people and had only referred to serious handicaps that would make the children themselves feel inadequate in a regular school environment.
Czechs are marking the 46th anniversary of the death of student Jan Palach who set himself on fire in protest against the growing public apathy to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. People have been laying flowers and lighting candles at the Palach memorial stone at the top end of Wenceslas Square where he set himself on fire and a special commemorative event is taking place at the Philosophical Faculty of Charles University on Jan Palach Square. The ensemble of the National Theatre is holding a scenic evening entitled 1969 – The Ice Age.
Czech women’s tennis No. 1 Petra Kvitová has won the Sydney International. She defeated compatriot Karolína Plíšková in two tie-break sets. The player edged her opponent 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (8-6). It is the first time that Kvitová has claimed the Sydney title, a forerunner the year’s first grand slam, the Australian Open.
The first 100 copies of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo arrived in the Czech Republic on Friday morning and promptly sold out, a representative of a news stand firm offering the publication, told the Czech News Agency. The magazine, whose office in Paris was the target of a terrorist attack last week, has been available only in Prague so far, she added. One copy cost 140 crowns. Apart from the airport and the main railway station, copies were delivered to a central shopping centre, several news stands, and a metro station retailer. An addional supply of the weekly is to be sold in the Czech Republic next week. According to available information, about 300,000 copies of Charlie Hebdo have been sent to about 25 countries. The new issue with another caricature of the Prophet Muhammad was published exactly a week after radicals killed 12 people in the weekly's office in Paris, including its editor-in-chief and leading cartoonists.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will head a Czech delegation to neighbouring Poland on January 27th to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, government spokesman Martin Ayrer has confirmed. The speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Jan Hamáček, meanwhile, will attend a commemorative ceremony on the same day at Terezín, north of Prague. The extermination camp at Auschwitz, where more than more than a million people, mostly Jews, were murdered, was liberated in 1945 by Soviet soldiers. World leaders who will be attending on the 27th will reportedly include the presidents of Poland, France, Germany and Austria. Russian President Vladimir Putin is not due to attend, having not received an invitation from Warsaw over his country’s intervention in Ukraine. Russia will be represented by its ambassador, ČTK writes.