A military plane carrying the bodies of three Czech ice hockey stars who were killed in a tragic plane crash near the Russian city of Yaroslavl on Wednesday arrived at Prague’s military airport Kbely in the early hours of Saturday. The president of the Czech ice hockey federation, Tomáš Král, as well as relatives of the deceased players received the bodies of Karel Rachůnek, Jan Marek and Josef Vašíček at the airport, from where they will be transported to their families. The public will pay their respects to the three Czech victims of this week’s tragic air accident on Sunday afternoon at Old Town Square in Prague. The ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. On Wednesday, a passenger plane carrying almost all of the Russian hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl went down near the city’s airport and caught fire. The crash caused 43 deaths; one person is reported to have survived, though he is in critical condition with severe burns.
Some three to four hundred far-right extremists gathered in the North Bohemian towns of Varnsdorf, Rumburk and Nový Bor on Saturday. The events in the three towns were organized by the Workers Party for Social Justice and aimed against the region’s Romany minority. Some two hundred activists traveled to the area in support of the Romanies who live there. Dozens of police officers worked to ensure safety; police helicopters monitored the party gathering and march in Nový Bor. Interior Minister Jan Kubice and the deputy chief of police Vladislav Husák were also present in Nový Bor.
Ahead of the extremists’ gathering, the government’s human rights commissioner, Monika Šimůnková, has called on residents of the three towns to not buy into the arguments of radicals and to carefully consider their participation. For days, police have maintained a state of readiness in the area due to assemblies and demonstrations provoked by tensions between ethnic Czechs and Roma, which have escalated over the past month.
In related news, during a police inspection of a bus in which far-right extremists were traveling to Saturday’s demonstration in North Bohemia, one of the passengers got out of the bus and shot a blank firing revolver at the officers. The perpetrator was arrested. The event happened on Saturday afternoon, a police spokeswoman said. Roughly twelve firearms were confiscated in the inspecting of the bus.
Prime Minister Nečas and several cabinet members will be visiting Israel next week for high-level meetings. The government announced the aim of the two-day visit as strengthening partnership and collaboration between the two countries, particularly with regards to science and technology, research and development, and innovation. The delegation is scheduled to meet with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and members of the business community. The upcoming UN vote on Palestinian membership in the organization will likely also be on the table, with the Czech Republic having been reported in the Israeli media as being one of five Western European states that plans to vote against the motion. The Czech government has thus far refused to state publicly its position on the matter.
A fire that broke out on the grounds of the city hospital in Ostrava on Saturday caused damages of roughly two million Czech crowns. No one was injured. The fire broke out in the sauna of the hospital’s rehabilitation ward, from where it spread through the buildings ground floor. Firefighters evacuated over forty people, among them employees and patients of the hospital.
The Indian elephant cub Rashmi, born in Ostrava zoo in April, was "christened" in an inflatable paddling pool on Saturday. Rashmi, Indian for ray of sun, is only the second such animal to be born in one of the country’s zoos. Indian elephants are threatened by extinction, with only around 55,000 specimens living in the wild. Ostrava zoo’s elephant pavilion was built in 2004 and cost 85 million Czech crowns.
Retired Czech football star Tomáš Skuhravý is among six people charged with stealing dozens of luxury cars in the Czech Republic and Germany, the website of TV Nova reported. Police would only confirm that one of those charged was a former international soccer player. Mr. Skuhravý, who is 46, spent much of a successful career at the Italian club Genoa. He still lives in the city, where he works as a pundit on a local TV station. Nicknamed the “bomber”, the 6ft 4in striker won 43 caps with Czechoslovakia and six with the Czech Republic.
Viktoria Plzeň won their last Czech league game before their debut in the prestigious Champions League, with a 3:2 away victory over Sigma Olomouc on Friday. Plzeň, who have been in indifferent form in the domestic competition, will face the Belarus’s BATE Borisov in Prague on Tuesday in their first match in a Champions League group stage that will also see them take on two of the biggest clubs in Europe, Barcelona and AC Milan. Viktoria Plzeň won the Czech league for the first time this year, the centenary of the club’s founding, before becoming only the third Czech side ever to reach the Champions League.
Conditions over the weekend are expected to improve, with daytime highs of up to 24 degrees Celsius on Saturday and record temperatures of 29 degrees on Sunday.