Just three days ago Jan Čermák and Hynek Matonoha – members of the Czech elite rapid response force serving in Logar, Afghanistan – were honoured by the Czech defence minister and the country’s chief of the general staff for their performance during duty. Three days later, the two, along with the army itself, are embroiled in a major scandal. The Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Monday that the two officers from the elite unit had - unbelievably - worn Nazi emblems on their helmets during their tour of duty. What’s more, the daily says,
In further connection to the White Justice case, the daily Právo reported Friday that the son of Prime Minister Jan Fischer has been under police protection for the last five months on account of the family’s Jewish background and the extremist group’s treat to attack “highly-positioned Jews”. The paper reported that the family of interior minister Martin Pecina was also receiving police protection.
Prime Minister Jan Fischer will take the signed Lisbon treaty to Rome next Friday, whereby the ratification process by the Czech Republic will be completed, a government spokesman told the ctk news agency on Thursday. Prime Minister Fischer is due to pay a two-day visit to the Vatican and will use the opportunity to take the treaty to Rome in person, the spokesman said. The Czech Republic is the last country to complete ratification of the Lisbon treaty which is due to take effect on December 1.
A group of neo-Nazis named White Justice were planning audacious terrorist attacks on several targets in the Czech Republic, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Tuesday. The extremist group was preparing both kidnappings and attacks on public facilities, the newspaper said. Some of White Justice’s members had been arrested two weeks ago by the Czech police’s organized crime unit. Radio Prague discussed the case with the man who broke the story, Mladá fronta reporter Janek Kroupa.
Unknown vandals are reported to have damaged a memorial to Holocaust victims in the town of Teplice. A spokesman for the local Jewish community said he had found the memorial covered with spray paint on Wednesday morning. There were no abusive inscriptions. Police investigating the incident say it is not yet clear if the act was racially motivated. The memorial was raised on the site of a former synagogue burned down by the Nazis. Some 5,000 Jews formed ten percent of the town’s inhabitants before WWII. Most of them died in concentration camps.
Czech police from the specialised unit against organised crime have charged 18 people for allegedly supporting and promoting groups suppressing human rights and freedoms. The 18 were out of a group of 24 people arrested by police on Wednesday on suspicion of ties to right-wing extremism. Two of the charged remain in custody. The suspects are thought to be connected to a white supremacist movement known as White Justice, which itself has connections to the neo-Nazi Narodní odpor. Others are suspected of having distributed supremacist material or of having organised illegal concerts. Police said on Friday they originally suspected a number of those detained of trying to prepare a terrorist attack, something which was not confirmed.
Wednesday afternoon saw roughly one hundred right-wing extremists protest in front of the Office of the Government, in reaction to a carefully-planned crackdown by police earlier in the day. Officers moved in in the early hours of Wednesday morning to arrest almost 30 individuals across the country suspected of ties to extremist and neo-Nazi groups.
Police carried out raids on right-wing radicals in three or more cities early Wednesday morning and may have arrested at least seven individuals. The Czech Police have provided little information on the raids, stating only that the operations were underway in Prague, České Budějovice and Hodonín and were the result of long-term investigations. A lawyer for some of the alleged arrestees claimed that up to 14 may have been detained in house searches stemming from concerts organised by extremist groups. In his opinion, the police are searching for links between fascist groups and the extreme right-wing Workers’ Party, which the government is requesting be banned by the Supreme Administrative Court.
The raids point to a growing police crackdown on right-wing extremists. Over the course of 2009 police have made arrests connected with the Czech Republic’s relatively strict anti-fascism laws on nine occasions. Only two incidents involving extremists resulted in arrests in 2008. Most recently police detained 14 individuals in connection with a brutal arson attack on a Roma family last spring, and 26 were arrested in separate incidents during early June. The charge of promoting a movement for the suppression of human rights and hate speech in the Czech Republic can carry up to eight years in prison.
Mum behind the wheel of a truck, while dad stays at home to look after the children. While this concept might seem completely normal to most kids, Czech children may still find the idea shocking, at least according to the European Contact Group, a non-profit organization that promotes equal opportunities for men and women. Within a broader effort to break that stereotype they have produced special work sheets to help teachers in kindergartens and primary schools address the issue.
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