Commenting on the shooting massacre and brutal bombing that occurred in Norway on Friday, Czech President Václav Klaus, who is currently on a lecture tour in Australia, said the event was beyond comprehension and had shaken Europe. Mr. Klaus discussed his views of the tragedy on the Australian news channel ABC News 24. In the interview he was asked whether there had been a shift in Europe towards extremist or radical views but he replied that he wouldn’t generalize; he did allow that there were others who shared the gunman’s views. Mr Klaus was also asked about immigration and European social and economic policy.
In his notorious manifesto, Norwegian suspect Anders Behring Breivik warned of the threat that Muslim immigrants posed for Europe, and cited Mr. Klaus’ criticism of the EU on several occasions. The suspect is currently charged with terrorism-related crimes, which carry a prison term of up to 21 years. The Czech Republic’s president was among the many who sent condolences to Norway at the weekend, strongly condemning the attacks.
In related news, the Czech president made headlines when he refused to go through a security device on his way to being interviewed in the Australian Parliament House, where ABC1 has its Canberra studio. TV producer Michelle Ainsworth, who was waiting to escort the Czech head of state to the station’s studio, says that Mr. Klaus stopped in front of the security device and said that he would not go through it. Reportedly, the security guard informed Mr. Klaus that everyone who wishes to enter the building had to pass through the metal detector first. According to Mrs. Ainsworth, Mr. Klaus told her that she could interview him in his hotel before leaving without saying goodbye.
Earlier this year, a video clip that showed Mr. Klaus pocketing a ceremonial pen on an official visit to Chile went viral and made international headlines.
Over a hundred Prague residents laid flowers and signed a list of condolences at the Czech capital’s Norwegian embassy on Monday. According to the deputy of Norway’s ambassador to the Czech Republic, Tijana Balac Nilsen, the embassy appreciates the outpour of empathy and support from the Czech population. Among those who expressed their condolences were diplomats from a number of countries, the Prague archbishop Dominik Duka, as well as ordinary Prague residents who pledged their solidarity to Norway in the wake of the twin terror attacks that killed at least 76 on Friday. A special mass in honor of the victims will be held at Prague’s St. Vitus cathedral on Friday.
Police started removing environmental activists holding a blockade in the Modrava region of Šumava National Park to prevent the felling of bark-beetle infested trees from the area on Tuesday afternoon. A police spokeswoman said that at least two activists, who had chained themselves to trees in an effort to prevent them from being felled, had been evacuated from the site, to where some 40 police officers have been deployed. According to the organizer of the blockade, Mojmír Vlašín, police brutality has been escalating. He says that one officer attacked a protester, choked and threatened him. He added that the blockade has not been successful because the activists are outnumbered by the police. On Tuesday, a court order was issued to remove three members of the vigil organizer, the Czech branch of Friends of the Earth, from the site.
The park’s management is determined to push ahead with logging activity arguing that another 30,000 trees in the vicinity are in imminent danger of infestation. A meeting between activists and the park’s director on Monday night failed to produce any result.
In related news, deputy chairman of the Senate Přemysl Sobotka condemned the environmentalists’ blockade in the Šumava National Park, stating that it demonstrated a lack of respect for the law. He also said that the activists were clearly trying to gain media attention, which for them seems to be more important than environmental causes. He added that the radical environmentalists protesting against the felling of bark-beetle infested trees were violating the rules of democratic society, and that even their presence off the marked tracks in the protected area of the national park was a legal offense. The Senate is expected to debate proceedings against bark-beetle infestation in the Šumava National Park at its session next week.
The Czech Air Line Pilots Association CZALPA ČSA announced at a press conference on Tuesday that as soon as any of their members are let go by Czech Airlines, flights will be delayed in protest. The head of the association, Filip Gaspar, said that it opposes planned redundancies since they go beyond what had been agreed on in a plan to restructure the company, which was approved by the government. According to Czech Airlines, however, all redundancies are part of this plan and have previously been discussed with the Czech Air Line Pilots Association. A new wave of redundancies is planned for late July and early August. Some 50 employees of the company’s 350 had already been let go at the beginning of this year.
Health Minister Leoš Heger was hospitalized on Monday and spent the night in a hospital in the South Bohemian city of České Budějovice. Mr. Heger was in the region for a cycling holiday. He started feeling sick as he was riding his bike. He has since been released and the incident was not serious, a spokesman for the ministry said on Tuesday. Mr. Heger is an avid cyclist and rower.
The oldest Czech citizen, 107-year-old Marie Třešnáková, died on Friday, the daily Právo reported on Tuesday. Mrs. Třešnáková had not been feeling well in the weeks before that, a spokesperson for the elderly persons’ home where she was living since 1994 told the newspaper. Following the death of Marie Třešnáková, the currently oldest resident of the Czech Republic is Evangelie Čarasová, who turned 107 in February. She was born in Greece and escaped to Czechoslovakia during the civil war in her native country, in 1948. Her recipe for a long life is a quiet and modest lifestyle, consuming lots of dairy products and avoiding alcohol. The oldest living human world-wide is Besse Cooper, from Georgia, America. She will be turning 115 in a month.
Police have arrested an 11-member-gang that is suspected of producing and selling illegal anabolic steroids. The suspects, aged between 31 and 52, are of Czech and Slovak nationalities, most of them former athletes, fitness trainers and organizers of various sports competitions. They face sentences of up to 12 years in prison. According to a press release published by the organized crimes unit of Czech police on Tuesday, the gang’s steroid production plant was located in the Zlín region and was active not just in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but also in other countries across Europe.
Police have arrested a man who is suspected of killing an 11-year-old girl who was found dead on Monday near the Silesian city of Krnov. A police spokeswoman confirmed that a suspect had been arrested on Tuesday but refused to provide any further details. The man is set to be interrogated on Wednesday.
The coming days should be partly overcast, with rainstorms in places and daytime highs of up to 23 degrees Celsius.