Two dozen people gathered on Prague’s Old Town Square on Saturday to demonstrate their support for the Belarus opposition. The demonstrators called for the release of all political prisoners and an end to repression of the regime’s opponents.
The Czech Senate this week issued a condemnation of Belarus for its crackdown on demonstrators after presidential elections in December and the arrest of several hundred political opponents of President Alexandr Lukashenko. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told the chamber that the Lukashenko regime was an insufferable dictatorship and said he would push for sanctions against the country in the EU.
The Foreign Ministry has advised Czechs to curtail all non-essential travel to Egypt until the situation in the country stabilizes. There are currently some 800 Czech tourists in the country but all are reported to be in safe destinations primarily Egypt’s Red Sea resorts. A flight from Prague to Cairo was delayed by several hours on Friday due to the street riots, but charter holiday flights are reportedly running on schedule.
The Hydro-Meteorological Institute has called a smog alert in parts of Moravia after registering excessive pollution levels in 3 cities. The concentration of dust particles per cubic meter in Havířov, Ostrava and Třinec is said to have exceeded the set norms several fold. The regions’ main polluters have been asked to scale down production and the city’s inhabitants have been requested to leave their cars at home. People have been warned to stay indoors as much as possible and keep their windows closed.
The huge bonuses paid to police chiefs in past years were not in violation of the law, according to the outcome of a police inspection. News that under two former interior ministers –Ivan Langer of the Civic Democrats and Martin Pecina of the Social Democrats- police chiefs had received outsize bonuses to the tune of hundreds of thousands of crowns with some rewards to be paid out for their lifetime on a monthly basis recently provoked public outrage. An inspection team looking into the matter said that the practice of distributing large performance related bonuses was not against the law. The interior minister is looking into the possibility of curbing such a practice in the future.
The Justice Ministry is working on an amendment to the law which would allow fathers to reject paternity of a child born in wedlock up until the age of six. The present law only gives them six months to file a suit. It is estimated that between 4 and 10 percent of all children born in wedlock have different biological fathers than assumed. The law is being amended in the wake of a case in which a man filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court after learning that he was not the biological father of his child a few years after his right to reject paternity had expired.
A newborn baby girl was left in a baby box in the town of Jablonec nad Nisou on Friday evening. The baby, who is believed to have been born on the same day, is said to be in good condition. The authorities are waiting to see if her mother will not want to reclaim her before putting her up for adoption. There are now 41 baby boxes in hospital complexes around the country and they have so far saved 41 children who might otherwise have been abandoned out in the open or killed. However the institution still has plenty of critics who argue that they make it too easy to abandon a child.
A fourteen-year-old girl is in critical condition after an accident on the ski-slopes of Orlické Hory. The girl lost control and crashed into another skier suffering serious head injuries and falling into a coma. She was airlifted to hospital and doctors where doctors are fighting for her life. On Friday a 13-year-old-girl was killed in an accident in another skiing resort after veering off course and crashing into a tree. The mountain rescue service has appealed to the public not to overestimate their abilities on the slopes.
Prague city transport management has announced it will start scenting Prague busses as of February in order to improve the quality of service. The scents found to be universally acceptable are cinnamon and lemon, both of which have been tested on buses in the town of Pardubice. A spokesman for city transport management said they had received no complaints and the scents had not, to their knowledge, triggered any allergic reactions.
The Czech Yo Yo Association is hosting a two-day European Championship in Prague’s Archa Theatre. The first ever European Yoyo Championship was held in the United Kingdom in 1953 and last year Prague hosted the event after a 57 year long break. The competition newly introduced 5 divisions and the winners were: Václav Kroutil (Czech Republic) in 1A division, Dave Geigle (Germany) in 2A, Lorenzo Sabatini (Italy) in 3A, Nandor Groger (Hungary) in 4A Offstring division and Petr Kavka (Czech Republic) in 5A counterweight division. This year’s winners in all five categories will be announced on Sunday evening.
Icy roads and heavy fog complicated traffic around the country on Saturday morning and traffic police have warned that Sunday is expected to bring similar conditions. Due to the harsh winter road maintenance crews are running out of salt supplies and have started using gravel as an alternative. Not all roads are maintained and drivers have been warned to exercise extreme caution particularly in the early morning and late night hours.
The coming days should continue partly cloudy with day temperatures dropping to minus 4 degrees Celsius. Nighttime lows may reach minus 16 degrees.