Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is set to visit Tunisia and Morocco next week. Mr. Schwarzenberg will be traveling to Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, on Friday. Mr. Schwarzenberg’s official visit is the first by a Czech official since this year’s upheavals in Tunisia, where anti-government protests brought down the country’s autocratic regime in January. On Sunday, the Czech foreign minister will continue on to Morocco. The country recently saw its deadliest terrorist attack in eight years, when a suspected suicide bomber detonated a device in a crowded square, killing fifteen people. The anti-government protests in Tunisia were followed by a wave of similar protests in Egypt, Sirya and Lybia, as well as a number of other Middle Eastern and North African countries.
On Saturday, over a thousand people attended the 69th Out Distance parachute memorial in Ořechov near Jihlava, which commemorates a Czech resistance group that parachuted from a British Halifax plane in 1942 to help prepare the assassination of deputy Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich. General Tomáš Sedláček, one of the last surviving parachutists, was in attendance. Organizers said that this year’s visitor numbers are the highest in the history of the event.
The Out Distance group did not land where they had planned due to a navigation error. One of its members committed suicide a month after landing, two others went to Prague and joined the Operation Anthropoid, which succeeded in assassinating the deputy Reich Protector. One of the group’s members, soldier Karel Čurda, however revealed the hiding place of the assassins to the Gestapo. Rather than be killed by the Germans, the assassins committed suicide after the Germans circled their hiding place, a church in Prague.
The deputy chairwoman of the Czech Constitutional Court, Eliška Wagnerová, harshly criticized Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek for his reaction to a recent verdict issued by the court regarding a change in law for building savings accounts. The court had ruled that a cut in contributions by the government was unlawful, since it retroactively affected agreements signed under different conditions. Mrs. Wagnerová said in an interview printed in the Saturday edition of the daily Lidové noviny that the finance minister was well aware of retroactivity being a problematic factor and had tried to circumvent the law. She compared his practises to those widely used in Nazi-era Germany. In a reaction to the ruling, Mr. Kalousek said on Thursday that he is planning to discontinue state support of buildings savings accounts entirely starting 2012.
Sixty years ago on Sunday, Radio Free Europe aired its first broadcast from Munich, to the then communist state of Czechoslovakia. Today, the radio station reports the news in 28 languages and 21 countries where a free press is either banned by the government or not fully established. Its broadcasts are often regarded as a rare source of objective information. The radio station was born out of an American government initiative in 1949; a test version of its program was broadcast from a van near the Czechoslovak border in 1950. Until 1995, Radio Free Europe was based in Munich, from where it was moved to Prague to cut expenses. In 2002, its Czech-language broadcasts ended after over half a century for the same reason.
Twelve girls will be competing for the Miss Roma 2011 award on Saturday. A total of 80 applied to the contest, this year held in the southern Moravian city of Hodonín. Apart from traditional beauty pageant elements, such as the swim suit and evening wear competition, the girls also compete in czardas, a traditional Hungarian folk dance popularized by Roma music bands. Organizers say that more and more young Romany women are interested in the competition.
In the fist quarter of 2011, Czech doctors diagnosed a total of thirty-five new cases of patients infected with the HIV-virus. One case of AIDS ended fatally in the same period. The information was released Friday by the Czech Aids Help Society. To date, a total of 1557 cases of infection with the HIV-virus have been detected in the Czech Republic since 1986. Compared to other industrialized nations, the rate of infection in the Czech Republic is relatively low, however the Czech Aids Help Society warns that awareness of the risks of unprotected sex is still as important as ever, despite the fact that thanks to a number of new medications, HIV is no longer the death sentence that it once was.
Parliament is in the process of passing a change in highway traffic law under which drivers charged with more than one traffic offense will only be held accountable for the gravest one. To be dealt with in this way, multiple traffic offenses must have taken place in the same three-month period. The goal of the law is to create milder circumstances for drivers who have accumulated a lot of offenses within a one-year period; the most aggressive of drivers may benefit from this change in law.
The result of an inspection into criminal behavior among police on the job finds that it is declining, but only slowly. According to fresh statistics, inspectors in 2010 counted a total of 242 cases of unlawful behavior from officers on the job, a drop of about 8.4 percent as compared to the previous year. The chief inspectors said they were nonetheless pleased with the result, adding that the inspection is meant to prevent police officers from committing unlawful or irresponsible acts at work.
Japanese citizens living in Prague have raised a total of 40,000 Czech crowns, which will go to the Japanese Red Cross to help disabled people affected by the recent earthquake, which killed over 14,000 and left the country in a devastated state. The Czech capital’s Japanese community donated money for the recovery effort, as well as organizing a sale of used goods at a city flea market to help raise funds. In addition, a concert organized by Japanese music students living in Prague also generated a sum of several ten thousand crowns to help with the recovery effort.
The Venus of Petřkovice, a statuette from the Upper Palaeolithic period believed to be 23 thousand years old and valued at 50 million euros, will be exhibited at the site where it was first discovered in Ostrava-Petřkovice. The event will take place on Sunday, May 1 and last only throughout the day. The figurine, a headless female torso just 4.6 centimetres tall, was found by archaeologist Bohuslav Klíma in July, 1953. The statuette is carved from hematite.
Over the weekend, cloudy skies and daytime temperatures between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius are expected, with a change of isolated thunderstorms.