The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, attended a march in the Ukrainian capital Kiev marking the first anniversary of the Maidan protests on Sunday. Mr. Zaorálek said those who had gathered were expressing their strong support for Ukraine’s leadership, particularly President Petro Poroshenko. He came to power after the toppling of Viktor Yanukovych on February 22, 2014. Prior to the march, Mr. Zaorálek visited an exhibition of military equipment seized in the Donbas region that Ukraine’s government say came from Russia. Speaking to the Czech News Agency, the Czech Republic’s chief diplomat said it was crucial to observe the principles of a peace deal agreed recently in Minsk.
The head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Dominik Duka, on Sunday performed a mass at the Church of the Ascension in Číhošť in the Vysočina Region in honour of local priest Josef Toufar, who died after being tortured by the communist secret police. This coming Wednesday will be the 65th anniversary of the death of Toufar, who was accused of staging a miracle at the church and forced to appear in a filmed “reenactment”. Cardinal Duka told journalists that he believed the priest would be beatified, but could not estimate how long the process might take.
Two years after legislation was approved returning property confiscated by the communist regime churches have received around a quarter of the assets they have applied for restitution of, according to the Roman Catholic Czech Bishops’ Conference. However, Czech Radio reported, some there has been stalemate over particular assets, such as a chateau and gardens in Kroměříž, while the Catholic Church has gone to court to seek the return of the painting the Madonna of Veveří, which is held by the National Gallery. Under a divisive bill passed by a right of centre government headed by the Civic Democrats, church groups are set to receive CZK 75 billion in property and CZK 59 billion in cash for assets that cannot be returned over a 30-year period.
A monument to senior Communist Vasil Bil’ak, who sent a letter of invitation to the USSR that was used to justify the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, was vandalised just hours after being unveiled in his Slovak hometown of Krajná Bystrá, the news site SME.sk reported. A Slovak artist and an associate daubed red paint on a bust of Bil’ak along with the word sviňa (pig/bastard). Bil’ak, who died a year ago, was charged with treason in 1991 but the case was dropped for lack of evidence.
The Czech Republic will invest almost CZK 5 billion in flood defences over the next five years, the minister of agriculture, Marian Jurečka, said on a television discussion programme on Sunday. Around CZK 1 billion will be spent on anti-flood measures this year, Mr. Jurečka said. The Ministry of Agriculture has launched the third phase of a flood defence programme that is due to be completed in 2020. Since devastating flooding hit the Czech Republic in 2002 around CZK 15 billion has been spent on anti-flood measures.
Cesta Ven (The Way Out) took the Czech Lion award for Best Film at a ceremony in Prague on Saturday night. The drama – which sold only 4,000 tickets at the box office – also saw Petr Václav pick up the Best Director gong and the previously unknown Klaudia Dudová win Best Actress for her portrayal of a Roma woman trying to keep her head above water. The Czech Lion for Best Actor went to Ivan Trojan for his part in Díra u Hanušovic (Nowhere in Moravia). Miroslav Vanek’s Olga, a portrait of Olga Havlová, took the Best Documentary prize.
Czech sprinter Pavel Maslák has achieved the fastest time in the 400m in the world this year just two weeks before the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Prague. Maslák, who is 24, achieved a time of 45.27 seconds at a meeting at the city’s Stromovka on Sunday, shaving three tenths of a second off his own Czech record. The sprinter holds the European Indoor title after coming first in Sweden’s Gothenburg in 2013.
The top division of the Czech soccer league resumed on Saturday after a winter break of almost three months. Leaders Viktoria Plzeň got off to a perfect restart with a 6:0 home thrashing of České Budějovice, while there were also wins for Jablonec, Slavia Prague and Dukla Prague. Meanwhile, Jihlava goalkeeper Jaromír Blažek became at 42 years, one month and 23 days the oldest player to ever appear in the Czech top flight, beating a previous record held by goal-scoring legend Josef “Pepi” Bican.
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