Demonstrations against a possible war on Iraq have taken place in a number of Czech cities.Close to a thousand protesters gathered on Wenceslas Square for an anti-war demonstration organized by the Communist party and several hundred people congregated on the Jan Palach Square for a protest organized by the Initiative Against War. The demonstrators carried placards reading "No blood for oil", " Stop the war" and "God said: Thou shall not kill". Similar protests took place in Ostrava and Brno on Saturday, where some 500 people signed an anti-war petition to be presented to Parliament. The protesters demanded that the Czech government and parliament should not wage a war in the name of the Czech people since surveys have shown that close to 70% of Czechs are in favour of a peaceful solution to the Iraqi crisis.
In a related development, the German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer on Saturday urged the international community to give the United Nations weapons inspectors the time they need in Iraq. Addressing a Czech-German discussion forum in Munich, Foreign Minister Fisher said that the Iraqi crisis could be solved by effective weapons controls and that a war against Iraq could not be justified in view of what the inspections had already achieved and what was still possible.
Meanwhile, the Czech Interior Ministry has taken further security measures as a precaution against terrorism. Soldiers have been deployed at Prague's Ruzyne airport and tight security is in place at water plants, border crossings and power stations. The Czech government said it had not received any concrete warning of a terrorist attack, but that the international situation required increased vigilance.
The Social Democratic Party leadership has unanimously approved the nomination of university professor Jan Sokol as the coalition's joint candidate in the third round of presidential elections. Mr. Sokol, a former dissident and education minister, is currently the only candidate being discussed by the three parties of the Czech governing coalition. If all three parties approve his nomination next week, Mr. Sokol will run against former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, who is the nominee of the center-right Civic Democratic Party. The third round of presidential elections is to take place on February 28th.
Miroslav Hornicek, a popular Czech actor, writer and film director has died at the age of 84. Born in 1918 in the town of Plzen, Miroslav Hornicek began his career as a state employee but his success in an amateur theatre company put him on the road to fame. Dubbed the nation's "philosopher-clown" Hornicek starred in numerous theatre and film productions and for years hosted a highly popular talk show on Czech Television. Miroslav Hornicek received a number of awards, among them the Thalie Award for his lifelong contribution to the world of theatre, the Karel Polacek Price for Humor in Art, and a place in the Hall of Fame alongside the best artists in the country's history.
Sunday should be another cold and overcast day with scattered snow showers and day temperatures between minus 5 and minus 1 degrees Celsius.
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