The Czech Republic is hosting the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship which runs from May 1st to May 17, 2015. The tournament, entering its 79th year, will feature 16 teams, including consistent contenders Russia, Canada, and the United States. Also included this year are newcomers Slovenia and Austria, which were promoted from the 2014 Division I Group A. The tournament will be played in two arenas: the O2 Arena in Prague which can fit 18 000 fans and the CEZ ARENA in Ostrava which has a capacity over 12 000 people. The puck will drop in the first face-off on Friday, May 1, with the Czechs facing Sweden in their opening match.
Police in Brno used force and tear gas to disperse a crowd of around 1,500 people who attempted to physically prevent a planned march through the city by the ultra-right Workers Party for Social Justice on Friday. Protesters physical blocked the way of the march booing and shouting “Nazis get out of Brno!” Among those present on the square were city council officials, including the mayor of the Brno-stred district Martin Landa who told the ctk news agency that it had not been possible to prevent the march on the grounds that it was announced as a Labour Day event. The 200-strong march by members and supporters of the Workers Party for Social Justice was partially disrupted but eventually passed through the city. Many of those who attempted to stop them suffered bruises and the effects of tear gas. Hundreds of officers, including police on horseback, were out in force to maintain order.
Around 200 anarchists took part in a protest march through Prague city centre on Friday afternoon. According to the organizers the protest was aimed against war, the political elite and the police force which they accuse of repression against anarchists. The police arrested several people this week in an operation against left-wing radicals who are alleged to have committed arson, including setting on fire several police cars and a police station. The march which set off from Střelecký Island passed through Narodní třída and Karlovo náměstí and ended at Naměstí míru in Prague’s Vinohrady district without incident. It was closely monitored by the police.
Czech police say they have registered the presence of several members of the Russian Night Wolves bikers club in the Czech Republic. Several of them reportedly attended Thursday’s remembrance events in Ostrava marking the end of WWII. However no motorcycle convoy has been sighted and it appears that some of the club members are undertaking the ride through Europe by car. The Night Wolves, who are said to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, announced their intention to ride through Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Austria and reach Berlin by May 9 to commemorate the victory of Russian troops over Nazi Germany 70 years ago. However the ride evoked controversy and Poland denied them entry. The Czech traffic police said it would closely observe their movements in the country.
Political parties are marking Labour Day with a series of happening at different venues in Prague. The Communist Party traditionally invited its supporters to the Holešovice fair grounds, while the Civic Democratic Party is staging an event for sympathisers at Petřín Hill. The Social Democrats are meeting with the public on Střelecký Island while the ANO party is holding a picnic in Troja park.
The ANO party of Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has established a platform for party members under 35 years-of-age, of whom there are presently 120. Mr. Babiš said he expected the party’s younger members to provide creative input and to take an active part in campaigning ahead of next year’s regional elections. Most established parties have platforms for younger members, both to give the party new blood and in order to better address the younger generation of voters.
The west Bohemian town of Plzeň has opened a week of Freedom Celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the city by General Patton’s Army. Visitors to the city will be able to see a reconstruction of a US military camp, there will be a historical re-enactment of the arrival of US tanks and a flyover of jets. There will be live music in the main square including big band, Dixie and gospel. A memorial to US General Patton will be unveiled at 5 p.m. on Friday in one of the city’s parks. The evening will end with a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. This year’s celebrations in Plzeň are the biggest in 25 years.
WWII veteran and war hero Antonin Bukový, decorated for bravery at the Battle of Sokolovo, has died at the age of 98, the ctk news agency reported. He was one of the founders of the First Czechoslovak Independent Field Battalion, which fought together with the Red Army. The Battle of Sokolovo took place on March 8 and 9, 1943, near the town of Sokolovo near Kharkiv in Ukraine when the on-going attack of the Wehrmacht was halted by joint Soviet and Czechoslovak forces. It was the first time that a foreign military unit fought together with the Red Army. Under the command of Ludvík Svoboda, later President of Czechoslovakia, the Czechoslovak soldiers effectively prevented any further advance of Germans across the Mzha river. Only ten war veterans from the First Czechoslovak Independent Field Battalion are still alive. Some of them will be taking part in the upcoming celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII.
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