Luboš Dobrovský, a former dissident who became a senior diplomat after
the Velvet Revolution, died in Prague on Thursday at the age of 87.
Dobrovský was a journalist at Czechoslovak Radio from 1959 to 1968. He left the Communist party after the Soviet occupation and was among the early Charter 77 signatories.
During the Velvet Revolution, Dobrovský was as a Civic Forum spokesman. He went on to serve as defence minister, chancellor to President Václav Havel and as an ambassador to Moscow.
Czech police identified 5,677 foreigners in the country illegally last
year, 685 more than in 2018, officials announced on Thursday.
The majority had entered the country legally and then overstayed their visas. Of this group, police said most were from Ukraine (1,456), Moldova (825), Vietnam (353), Russia (234) or Uzbekistan (199).
The annual Three Kings Collection, organised since the year 2000 by
Catholic charity Caritas, raised a record 130 million crowns this year. The
traditional door-to-door charity drive starts on New Year’s Day and runs
for about two weeks.
It features children dressed as Kaspar, Melichar and Balthazar – the “three wise men”, later known as kings, who according to the Bible followed the star of Bethlehem to find the new-born baby Jesus.
The volunteer “kings” go carolling from house to house, leaving their initials – ‘K + M + B’ – above the door frames as a symbol of blessing.
Charita Czech Republic is the largest non-state provider of social services in the country. Over the past two decades, the processions have in total raised more than 1.4 billion crowns in aid of the needy.
A 31-year-old man armed with a knife was arrested outside the lower house
of Parliament on Thursday.
Police said he demanded to be admitted into the building, where a session was underway, and threatened officers.
No one was injured in the incident. An investigation into his possible motive is underway.
Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček has announced a temporary ban on the
issuance of visas to Chinese citizens due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Online applications have also been halted.
So far, five Czechs in Chinese areas affected by coronavirus have requested assistance returning home.
The possible evacuation of Czechs from China is being negotiated with France and British authorities, Petříček told journalists.
Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said a temporary ban on incoming flights from China was under discussion.
The head of the Jewish Community in Prague on Thursday received three
cobblestones identified by city authorities as having being made of Jewish
The fragments come from 28. října street in Prague 1, a community official told the Czech News Agency.
Last autumn, Prague City Hall signed a memorandum pledging to remove fragments of Jewish tombstones used as cobblestones in the city centre and return them to the community.
Jewish community of Prague chairman František Bányai said they will be deposited at the Old Jewish Cemetery in the Žižkov district.
Fragments paving parts of Wenceslas Square and the Prague high street Na Příkopě likelty came mainly from a derelict 19th century Jewish cemetery in Chomutov, north Bohemia.
They were used to repair the pedestrian zone ahead of a 1987 visit to Prague by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. A project called ‘Finding the Lost Face of Jewish Cemeteries’ is working with the city to identify the fragments.
The Czech Republic is now home to some 30,000 feral cats, most of which are
concentrated in urban areas, the daily Mladá Fronta Dnes reports. The
newspaper cites veterinarians as saying that represents a significant rise.
MPs have proposed introducing stricter regulations requiring cat owners to neuter their pets, since feral cats pose a health risk in that they can spread parasites and diseases to other animals, including humans.
The Czech Republic is edging ever closer to an influenza epidemic, health
experts say. The number of identified cases has risen to 1,452 per 100,000
inhabitants, less than 150 cases short of the threshold to officially
declare an epidemic.
According Institute of Public Health (SZÚ) data published on Wednesday, the regions of Central, North and South Bohemia are currently most affected. The greatest number of cases have been recorded among elementary school children.
Many schools have temporarily closed and some hospitals have restricted or banned patient visits in an effort to try to contain the spread of the influenza virus.
The Czech Republic has among the highest percentage of organically farmed
land in the European Union. EU statistical office data show 14.8 percent of
Czech land is organically farmed, nearly twice the EU average of 7.5
Neighbouring Austria has the highest proportion at 24.1 percent, followed by Estonia at 20.6 percent and Sweden at 20.3 percent.
The EU country with the lowest percentage of organic farming is Malta at just 0.6 percent, followed by Romania at 2.4 percent and Bulgaria at 2.6 percent.