A series of quakes reaching 3,5 points on the Richter scale were registered overnight in the west of the country. The quake’s epicentre was near the town of Nový Kostel which experienced smaller tremors about a week ago. No injuries or damages are reported. Seismologists say there may be more small quakes in the coming days, but they are not expected to exceed 4 points on the Richter scale or do serious damage. The area is known for minor seismic activity, though the current quakes are the strongest in 100 years.
Police are out in force in the town of Varnsdorf which has witnessed growing ethnic tension between the majority population and the Roma minority. For the second day in a row hundreds of people took to the streets to protest against rising crime and the presence of the Romany minority in the town. Public anger reached a head following several serious incidents of racially motivated violence and street wars between Romany gangs. The local authorities are struggling to deal with the situation and there is concern that neo-Nazis could turn it in their favour.
A 36-year old woman who is believed to have killed her four children before attempting to commit suicide on Friday has reportedly regained consciousness in a Hradec Králové hospital, but doctors say she is in no condition to be questioned by police. The woman’s live-in partner came upon the scene of the tragedy on returning home from a trip. The four children, aged between 2 months and 8 years, had all been stabbed and bore the marks of strangulation. The woman, who is the prime suspect, had tried to hang herself in the barn. The tragedy is the worst in the country’s criminal history.
The website WikiLeaks on Friday released a large number of unedited US diplomatic cables relating to the Czech Republic. According to the daily Lidové noviny, which has published a number of excerpts in its Saturday edition, the cables refer to corruption in the Czech Republic and report that Marek Dalík, a close aide to former prime minister Mirek Topolánek, solicited a huge bribe from the Austrian weapons manufacturer Steyr. One of the cables is a lowdown on President Vaclav Klaus ahead of his official visit to the US in which he is described as “instinctively pro-American, but unafraid to criticize, a man overly proud of his intellect who likes stirring up controversy. ” Five prominent news organizations including the Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel magazine have condemned the website for making more than 250,000 sensitive diplomatic cables public.
Three comic strips reflecting the life of the Romany minority in the Czech Republic and Slovakia have just hit bookshelves in France, published by the Ca et La publishing house. The work of Romany students, the strips are “documentary” in character and tell the life-stories of a 60-year-old ailing and poverty-stricken Romany man, a 12 year-old Romany girl from Prague and a 45-year-old Romany woman who spent most of her life in various Romany settlements in Slovakia. The work was co-financed by the European Cultural Fund.
IKEA has announced it is tightening security at all its stores in the Czech Republic, following a foiled bomb attack on one of its Prague outlets. All four stores were closed for security reasons on Friday after police defused a functional bomb at the IKEA store in Prague’s Zličín district. Czech news sources said the package was found by cleaning staff in a waste bin just outside the store. This is not the first attack on the Swedish group’s European outlets. Small explosive devices detonated at IKEA stores in the Netherlands, Belgium and France earlier this year. No one was seriously hurt in those incidents. All four IKEA stores in the Czech Republic opened to shoppers as usual on Saturday.
President Klaus has been trying to smooth ruffled feathers in Greece over an interview in which he referred to the Greeks as “ouzo drinkers sitting under the shade of cypress trees”. The president said his remark had been misinterpreted and had not been intended as an insult, and that he had only meant to emphasize that it was up to each EU member state to decide if it wanted to proceed on a quarter power, half power, or full power. He said Czech work performance also significantly lagged behind that of Germany, which was all the more reason for him not to be judgemental in this respect.
The warm and sunny spell is expected to come to an end with the start of the new week with rain and day temperatures expected to drop to between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius.