The Chinese ambassador to Prague refused to accept a gift from Amnesty International for the winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize Liu Xiaobo. Four representatives of the human rights organisation attempted to hand in flowers and a card at the Chinese embassy after an awards ceremony in Oslo on Friday which Mr Liu was unable to attend. He is serving an 11-year jail term for voicing opposition to the country’s communist regime, and is a signatory of Charter 08, a human rights manifesto modelled on Czechoslovakia’s Charter 77. Elsewhere on Friday, which was international Human Rights Day, members of a Czech NGO held a lamp-lit procession to draw attention to Mr Liu’s case in Prague.
The European Union has confirmed that the administrative section of its Galileo global navigation satellite system will be based in Prague. The decision was first announced after a meeting of ambassadors to the EU, before being rubber-stamped by ministers in Brussels on Friday. The Galileo office will be located in the former headquarters of the Czech Consolidation Agency in the Holešovice district of the capital. The EUR 3.4 billion GNSS project is the biggest joint undertaking to date by EU members, with the system expected to go into operation in three or four years.
Czech MPs have voted to reduce the salaries of legislators, judges and state attorneys by 5 percent next year. However, the opposition Social Democrats have signalled an intention to block the bill in the Senate, necessitating a second vote in the lower house. For that reason it is not clear whether the change will have come about by the beginning of January; otherwise, a previously approved pay rise for lawmakers will come into effect. The Social Democrats are opposed to the bill over the fact state attorneys salaries will fall.
The regional court in Ostrava has handed suspended sentences to a teenage boy and his mother over a petrol bomb attack on a Romany family’s home in the Bedriška area of the city. The youth was found guilty of throwing the missile, while the court said the mother was guilty of failing to prevent him from doing so. Police were unable to prove a racial motive for the attack, while a judge said intent to kill had not been proven, only intent to start a fire. Nobody was injured in the incident, which took place in March.
In October four neo-Nazis got long jail terms for fire-bombing a house occupied by a Romany family in Vítkov, which is also in north Moravia, last year. A small child was severely burned in the attack and will suffer the physical and mental effects for the rest of her life.
The smallest party in the Czech government Public Affairs are preparing for a policy congress in Prague this weekend. Members of the party – which was little known before this year – are expected to assess their experience in the coalition and the causes of a large fall-off in support in local and Senate elections in October. Public Affairs’ leader, former television journalist Radek John, has come under some pressure after a series of perceived gaffes in his post as minister of the interior.
The head of the Roman Catholic church in the Czech Republic is to have his own regular programme on Czech Radio’s main station Radiožurnál. The Archbishop of Prague, Dominik Duka, will have a slot at 8:20 every Sunday morning, a spokesperson for the station said on Friday. The prelate was appointed in February this year.
Eva Zaoralová is stepping down as artistic director of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Dr Zaoralová, who recently turned 78, is a renowned film critic and expert on Italian and French cinema, and played a large role in turning around the then flagging festival after her appointment in the mid 1990s. She is being replaced by Karel Och, who has up to now been Karlovy Vary’s programme director.
The American actor John Malkovich is scheduled to take part in next year’s Prague Spring International Music Festival. Organiser’s announced that the Hollywood star will perform a recitation in a production entitled Infernal Comedy at the city’s Rudolfinum venue on June 2. The work is a “crime melodrama” based on the story of Johann “Jack” Unterwerger, an Austrian serial killer.
Forecasters say between 20 and 70 centimetres of fresh snow is likely to fall in mountainous areas of the Czech Republic this weekend. South Moravia can also expect snowfalls in low-lying areas. It should also be windy, while temperatures may briefly rise above freezing point, causing more ice to form. Snow and ice have been causing complications in the Czech Republic for over a week. Meanwhile, meteorologists say the country can expect a white Christmas this year.
We can expect snow and rain in the coming days, with temperatures reaching up to 3 degrees Celsius.