Czechs on Friday commemorate the 93rd anniversary of the foundation of independent Czechoslovakia, the precursor of the modern-day Czech Republic that was established on October 28, 1918. Events are being held to mark the national holiday; President Václav Klaus laid wreaths at the National Monument at Prague’s Vítkov hill, along with the Archbishop of Prague, Dominik Duka, several government ministers and other officials. The celebrations will conclude on Friday evening when President Klaus will present state honours and decorations at Prague Castle.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Friday laid wreaths at Washington’s statue of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Czechoslovakia’s founder and first president, marking the national holiday. On the second day of his short working visit to the US, Mr Nečas wished Czechs behaved better to each other. On Thursday, the Czech Prime Minister met US President Barack Obama in the White House for talks on issues such as a multi-billion Czech nuclear tender and plans to establish a NATO helicopter training base in the Czech Republic.
The writer, poet, diplomat and former dissident Jiří Gruša died on Friday at the age of 72. The head of the Czech Pen Club Jiří Dědeček told the news agency ČTK Mr Gruša died in Hannover, Germany during heart surgery.
Jiří Gruša was born in Pradubice on November 10, 1938. He graduated from Charles University in Prague but was banned from publishing after the 1968 Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. He signed the human rights manifesto Charter 77 and left the country in 1981 and lived in Germany. After the fall of communism, he served as the Czech ambassador to Germany and Austria, and also briefly as the minister of education. In 2003, he was elected the head of the International Pen club.
Several hundred Czech Christian believers of various denominations gathered on Friday at the foot of the mythical Mount Říp, in central Bohemia, to pray for the wellbeing of their country. Organizers said they wanted to offer an alternative to official secular celebrations of the national holiday. The Czechoslovak Independence Day was also marked by Czech monarchists who marched through the centre of Prague.
Three hundred and thirty first-year students of the Czech Defence University along with 153 military recruits were sworn in at Prague Castle on Friday. After the ceremony, President Václav Klaus also appointed three new generals and promoted two other generals of the Czech military. The event was held as part of the celebrations of the Independent Czechoslovak State Day. While President Klaus said the new troops have undertaken immense responsibility while Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra noted the military oath also represented a moral commitment.
Some 30 far-right extremists gathered at a rally organized by the Workers’ Party of Social Justice in the north-eastern town of Havířov on Friday. The rally, which had been banned by the local authorities, lasted for about 30 minutes; the party chair, Tomáš Vandas, criticized the authorities for allegedly oppressing the freedom of speech in the country. The organizers face a fine for holding the rally despite the ban.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová beat Agniezska Radwanska from Poland 7:6, 6:3 at the WTA Championships in Istanbul on Friday move to her career-best number two in the world rankings. The 21-year-old Czech was losing 1:5 in the first set but won four games in a row and took the set in a tie-break. In the second set, Radwanska failed to convert two break points and Kvitová wrapped up the match. In the tournament’s semifinals, Petra Kvitová will face Australia’s Samantha Stosur.
The weekend will be mostly overcast, with rain and fog in places. Daytime highs should range between 10 and 14 degrees Celsius.