People across the Czech Republic are commemorating the anniversary of the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Hitler’s Germany on this day 80 years ago, which was followed by the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, which many see as the darkest six years in modern Czech history.
Among the most important events is a remembrance act taking place on Hradčanské náměstí attended by representatives of the Czechoslovak Legionaries Association and the Ministry of Defence. In the Senate, Czech and Slovak historians have gathered for a special conference focused on the year 1939 and the events leading up to the end of inter-war Czechoslovakia.
Meanwhile, Czech Radio is running a special day long, minute-by-minute broadcast service dedicated to March 15th 1939.
Czech leaders have condemned Friday’s attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that claimed 49 lives and left 50 wounded.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš tweeted that he was ‘appalled by the horrendous terrorist attack’ and extended his ‘deepest sympathy to the friends and families of the victims and all people of New Zealand.’
Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček also sent condolences, calling the attack ‘repugnant’. He said that he rejects all forms of violence, including that which is aimed at people of another faith.
No Czech citizens are believed to have been killed or wounded in the attack.
In football, Slavia Prague has advanced to the quarter-finals of the Europa League after knocking out five-time winner Sevilla in front of the home crowd on Thursday night.
The Czechs came from behind in extra time to win the second leg 4-3 and progress into the quarter-finals with a 6-5 aggregate victory.
Slavia Prague reached this stage of the competition for the first time in 19 years. The draw for the quarter-finals will be held on Friday afternoon.
High school students across the Czech Republic joined the global student strike on Friday aiming to raise awareness of the need to fight climate change.
In Prague, students gathered on Malostranské náměstí and marched to the Office of the Government. Students in Ostrava, Olomouc, Liberec and other Czech towns and cities also took part in the protest.
The students have received support from over 100 Czech scientists and academics and from the environmental groups Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.
The Czech police has arrested 12 foreign citizens and charged them with people smuggling. If convicted, the individuals could face up to 10 years in jail, Jaroslav Ibehej, spokesman for the National Centre for Combating Organised Crime (NCOZ), told the Czech News Agency on Friday. The suspects, all citizens of former Soviet countries, are believed to have belonged to an international group that focused on illegally smuggling migrants from Southeast Asia and providing them with false documents. The police spokesman says the group was destroyed through a combined effort of Czech, Polish, Slovak and Ukrainian police.
The January figures for industrial production and the construction sector show a year-on-year decline, analysts from the Czech Statistics Office announced on Friday. A 6.9 percent decrease in car manufacturing is seen as primarily responsible for the 1 percent decline in overall industrial production.
Construction went down by 13.2 percent in comparison to figures in January 2018. The Czech News Agency reports this difference was due to more favourable weather conditions in the previous year, when an exceptionally warm January allowed construction firms to proceed with building projects unhindered.
Meanwhile, energy companies and pharmaceutical firms experienced an increase in production. Statisticians also reported an overall 1.9 percent increase in the number of orders issued to Czech companies.
Czech energy giant ČEZ has begun the construction of a pipeline running from the Temelín nuclear power plant to the South Bohemian city of České Budějovice. The CZK 1.4 billion project is expected to cover 30 percent of the city’s heating needs once it is finished in 2021. The Czech engineering and construction company Tenza has been put in charge of the project, which aims to build two 26km long underground pipelines connecting the power plant with the city.
It is hoped that thanks to the pipeline the local heating plant will be able to decrease the amount of coal it burns annually by 80,000 tons, lowering the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
Thick clouds and heavy rains are expected to form on Friday evening, with downpours continuing for much of Saturday. Temperatures are expected to lie between 7-11 degrees Celsius.