Family, friends, fellow students, town officials and hundreds of others in Žďár nad Sazavou paid their last respects to 16-year-old Petr Vejvoda on Monday - the student killed in a knife attack at his high school last week. The ceremony was held at 12 PM but the chamber was full already an hour earlier. During the ceremony, the town’s mayor spoke while priest Tomáš Holý later read a letter from Cardinal Dominik Duka. Some classmates, unable to cope emotionally, were helped by medics.
Last Tuesday, Petr Vejvoda was fatally injured by a 26-year-old woman, with a past record of a similar assault and a history of mental illness. She had followed students into the school’s changing area; he died defending a fellow classmate. Last Friday, President Zeman and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka both visited the school and lit candles at the site in his memory.
The country’s chief hygiene officer, Jiří Valenta, issued a directive on Monday introducing checks at international airports in the Czech Republic as a preventive measure to stop the spread of Ebola. Arriving in Prague, Karlovy Vary, Pardubice, Ostrava and Brno, passengers on international flights will fill in information ahead of time. At Prague´s Václav Havel Airport, any passengers who spent the last 42 days in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, the West African countries at the centre of the deadly Ebola outbreak, will undergo a medical checkup and have their temperature taken. At the other airports, arrival cards will be collected and evaluated by a doctor, with potentially risky passengers to be contacted later if necessary. Among information included will be passenger’s full names, their flight number, and means of contact. The Czech Republic had a total of four Ebola scares in recent weeks, but all of the patients tested negative. The directive at Czech airports takes effect on Tuesday morning.
ANO, the Social Democrats and the Three-Party Coalition (The Greens, Christian Democrats, STAN) have agreed on key issues in negotiations on a possible coalition at Prague City Hall. Among ideas agreed, the Czech News Agency reported, is the construction of a new “D” metro line, the lowering the of price of yearly transit passes by 900 crowns, zero tolerance of gambling, and the stricter protection of non-developed areas in the city. ANO finished first in Prague in the recent local elections, followed by TOP 09, and the Three Party Coalition. Others with representatives elected are the Social Democrats, the Civic Democrats, the Communists, and the Czech Pirate Party.
The government has approved foreign military missions for 2015 and 2016. According to the proposal agreed, personnel should continue to serve, for example, in Afghanistan, Mali or the Balkans. The government did not back a plan, supported by President Miloš Zeman, for Czech soldiers to serve in the United Nations mission in the Golan Heights.
The Czech foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, confirmed on Monday that the Foreign Ministry had accounted for the whereabouts of 346 Czech nationals in Nepal; none of the Czechs are in danger. Last week, the Annapurna mountain range in Nepal was struck by deadly blizzards and avalanches in which at least 39 people died. Another 200 people had to be rescued in emergency operations.
Deputy leader of TOP 09 and former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek slammed the government’s state budget proposal for 2015 on Monday, calling it the “worst budget draft in five years”. The proposed deficit is 100 billion. The opposition politician charged the draft was a text-book example of wasting money, telling journalists TOP 09 would push for the return of the draft to the cabinet for re-working. According to Kalousek, TOP 09 will propose that the cabinet cut overall spending by 20 billion crowns and raise investment to reach 2012 levels. The first reading by lawmakers is likely to begin this Wednesday.
Czech President Miloš Zeman rated the Czech government favorably in an interview on Sunday, telling commercial broadcaster TV Nova that Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka had been successful in keeping the coalition together, which he saw as crucial. He also said the current government had given people 'hope'. At the same time, the president stated he could envisage ANO leader and finance minister Andrej Babiš as prime minister as well. Commenting on the sharp words traded at times by Mr Babiš and Mr Sobotka, the president made clear occasional clashes in any coalition were common.
German President Joachim Gauck, Hungarian President Janos Ader, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and Slovak President Andrej Kiska, along with President Miloš Zeman, will mark the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, which led to the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia, together at a special event in Prague. The plan was confirmed by the president's spokesman Jiří Ovčáček on Monday. A special ceremony is to be held at Prague's Charles University. The Czech president is also planning to invite those who took part in the demonstrations on November 17, 1989 that started at the university campus in Albertov and ended in a crackdown by the communist regime, Mr Ovčáček confirmed.
Jiří Pařízek, until now the city councillor for transport, has been named interim chairman of the Prague branch of TOP 09 by the party’s regional executive committee. He will stay on until the end of November, when the vote on a new city council and the opposition will be held. He replaces Jiří Vávra, who left the party last week along with Prague Mayor Tomáš Hudeček. The two left the party over continued infighting which critics charged had hurt TOP 09’s chances in Prague: TOP 09 came second to ANO in the recent local elections.
A blackout hit parts of the Czech capital a minute after midnight on Monday, affecting some 100,000 homes. Affected were Prague 4 and parts of Prague 2 and 10. The blackout, caused by a technical failure at a substation in Chodov, also left the Thomayer Hospital in Krč briefly without power. In all, the blackout affected about a quarter of the city, the Czech News Agency reported.