The Czech Foreign Ministry has defended the work of the Czech ambassador to Ukraine Ivan Počuch, saying that it had received no signals which would indicate that the ambassador had neglected his duties in connection with the community of ethnic Czechs living in the country. The ambassador came under fire from President Miloš Zeman on Saturday who said the embassy had neglected its duty by failing to register the demands of over 200 Volynhia Czechs for repatriation to their old country. The ambassador said he regretted the president’s criticism, saying he himself had only learnt about the alleged requests for repatriation from the media.
In reaction to President Zeman’s criticism with regard to inaction on the part of the Czech embassy in Kiev to the demands of ethnic Czechs for repatriation, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told Czech Television he feared that the mass repatriation of ethnic Czechs from Ukraine could be abused by Russia for propaganda purposes and could complicate Czech relations with Ukraine. According to the information that we have It seems that many ethnic Czech families want to repatriate in order to avoid their men getting drafted so it is a very sensitive matter, the prime minister noted.
Christian Democrat leader and deputy premier Pavel Bělobrádek told Czech Television on Sunday that the government should show goodwill and repatriate those ethnic Czechs in Ukraine who express the desire to relocate in view of the present situation in the country. Mr. Bělobrádek said that regardless of the situation in Ukraine, the community of Volynhia Czechs had Czech roots and deserved to receive assistance from their old country. The question of a mass repatriation has become a matter of contention between President Zeman and the Czech Foreign Ministry whom the head of state accuses of inaction. The prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, expressed concern on Saturday that a mass exodus of ethic Czechs from Ukraine could be abused by Russia for propaganda purposes.
The head of the board of Czech Aeroholding Václav Řehoř said on Sunday there was no question of reducing the number of Czech Airlines staff who face lay-offs. He said the company was ready to negotiate the possibility of a short period of part-time employment for some of the staff to give them a chance to find jobs elsewhere, but the number of staff to be cut was not negotiable. Last month the company announced plans to lay-off a third of ČSA employees, including dozens of pilots, stewards and ground staff. The stewards’ trade unions have gone on strike alert and are trying to get the decision overturned.
Forty-one years after being expelled from Czechoslovakia by the communist government, Andrew Lass, professor of anthropology at Holyoke College, US, was awarded the Dagmar and Václav Havel Foundation VIZE 97 Prize. The award, presented annually on October 5th - Václav Havel’s birthday - is presented to distinguished scientists and thinkers whose work is concerned with unconventional ways of asking fundamental questions about cognition, being, and human existence. In addition to receiving the award, Professor Lass will attend related events in Prague, including discussions with students and professors.
Chemical experts are analyzing the contents of several containers which were dumped near a brook in the town of Chomutov. Passers-by alerted the police to the find on Saturday and the local fire brigade was called to deal with the emergency. The head of the operation said later that there had been no contamination of soil or water. One of the containers was allegedly labelled sodium cyanide. Police are working to trace the individual or company which dumped the chemicals.
The reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová lost to Russia’s Maria Sharapova 4-6,6-2,3-6 in the final of the China Open on Sunday. Kvitová who thus lost the chance to move to N 2 on the world ladder, said she regretted the lost game, but was happy with her overall performance over the past fortnight which had confirmed her good form and mental strength.