Rectors and students from universities around the country assembled at the statue of T.G. Masaryk on Hradčany Square on Friday to mark the 98th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia and pay their respects to the country’s first president. The Czech Association of Rectors has said its members would not be attending the official celebrations at Prague Castle on Friday evening in protest against President Zeman’s policies. Representatives of student organizations expressed support for the decision. The ceremony was also attended by the president of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Jiří Drahoš, who said the academic world must stick together and confirmed that academics would also stay away from the event. Many students and academics are expected to take part in the alternate celebrations which are to be held on Old Town Square.
Leading cultural figures have called on the public to take part in protest gatherings in support of democracy. In a proclamation issued on the occasion of Czechoslovak Independence Day, several dozen actors, singers and writers criticized the president and government for its "submissive foreign policy" in relation to China saying that the country’s leaders do not have a mandate to turn the helm of the country eastward. They urge the head of state to stop spreading lies and apologize for his behavior. The signatories include the president of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Jiří Bartoška, singer Vojtěch Dyk, head of the drama ensemble at the National Theatre, Michal Dočekal, and journalist Karel Steigerwald, among others.
In an address on Czechoslovak Independence Day, the former president Václav Klaus stressed the need to defend and protect the sovereign Czech state in connection with the migrant crisis, which he said presented a threat to the whole European Continent. Uncontrolled mass migration threatens the existence of Europe such as we know it and want it, Mr. Klaus said, adding that mass migration would radically alter the national, ethnic, and cultural character of Europe and threaten the traditional values it is built on.
The Office of the President does not need to apologize for comments the president made about journalist Ferdinand Peroutka until the Supreme Court rules on the appellate complaint lodged by the Office of the President regarding the verdict. Czech Radio reported on Friday that the Supreme Court had postponed the deadline for an apology until it ruled on the complaint filed by Prague Castle. The ruling came shortly after the Office of the President was ordered to pay 100,000 crowns for failing to apologize.
Big stores and supermarkets have been forced to close their doors on the public holiday for the first time this year due to a new law according to which outlets bigger than 200 square meters must remain closed on all big public holidays. According to a poll conducted by the Median agency 65 percent of Czechs do not have a problem with this. The new law means that big stores will no longer be able to serve customers on New Year’s Day, Easter Monday, May 8, September 28, October 28, December 25 or December 26. On December 24 – on the eve of which Czechs traditionally celebrate Christmas – large retailers will have to shut at noon.
Saturday should be partly cloudy to overcast with scattered showers and day temperatures between 9 and 13 degrees Celsius.