The Czech police plan to establish new riot units in two of the country’s regional centres, Ústí nad Labem and Ostrava. They should help combat the growing threat of extremism which has seen a sharp rise over the last two years. At the same time, police units across the country face serious understaffing due to budget cuts.
The Czech Police have announced new and additional measures to combat extremism in the country. The head of the riot police, Petr Sehnoutka, told reporters Tuesday that units would be receiving additional training, public order squads would be used more frequently, and new, heavy-armour units will be added in the Ústecký and Moravskoslezský regions. The police said that the further specialisation of the units was in reaction to the greater specialisation of extremist groups themselves, which Sehnoutka said are becoming more aggressive, better organised and embracing new methods. The two regions in which the new units are to be placed were chosen due to their being what the police called major bases for extremists. Currently only Prague and Brno riot police have such heavy-armour squads.
Brno restaurant owner Richard Hošek has launched a new initiative aimed at feeding homeless people in the Moravian capital. From Wednesday, he will collect leftover lunches from restaurants around Brno and deliver them to the city’s homeless community, which numbers around 1500. The entrepreneur was inspired by a similar project in Germany. The leftover meals will be brought to a central location where Brno’s homeless can pick them up.
There are now between 2,000 and 3,000 Vietnamese-run večerky (corner stores) in the Czech Republic, a senior member of a Czech Vietnamese business association, Nguyen Nam, said at a Prague conference on the retail industry on Wednesday. He said, however, that while the grocery business was growing, Vietnamese traders reported stagnation in textiles sales. Mr Nam said one sign of the growing importance of Vietnamese retailers was that the large Czech wholesaler Makro was now advertising in their language.
The Czech government has hit back at a European survey which described Czech Roma or gypsies as the most discriminated against in the European Union. Minister for Human Rights and Minorities, Michael Kocáb, said on Monday that the Czech Republic had many Roma intellectuals who knew how to identify discrimination and spread news about it. A study for the European Union Agency For Fundamental Rights said 64 percent of Czech Roma were subject to discrimination during the preceding year and 42 percent subject to criminal attacks. The head of the government’s office for Roma affairs suggested that the situation was worse in Slovakia and Romania where the segregation of the Roma community was more marked.
Major Mike Stannett is the national leader of the Salvation Army, or Armáda spásy, in the Czech Republic. He and his wife Ruth first came to the country in 1991 and, apart from a brief stint in Moscow, have been here ever since. Right now the Salvation Army is particularly busy, working to help the homeless through a freezing snap, and at its headquarters in Prague 13 Mike Stannett discussed just how the organisation has been coping with the situation. But I first asked him what had led him and his wife to move here in the early ‘90s.
The Supreme Administrative Court has postponed indefinitely a ruling on
the abolition of the extreme-right Workers’ Party. Judge Vojtěch
Šimíček said on Thursday that the case was adjourned and a verdict might
be passed in February. The announcement came after four days of hearings in
the course of which party leader Tomáš Vandas openly admitted the
party’s connections to the right-wing National Democratic Party of
Germany. The case for the dissolution of the Workers’ Party, was filed by
the Czech Interior Ministry which claims that the party’s activities and
statutes are in violation of Czech law.
The government’s prosecuting attorney Tomáš Sokol showed the court snapshots of extremist gatherings where members of the Workers’ Party are seen doing the Nazi salute or are seen in the company of leading German neo-Nazis. He said the party had become increasingly violent and that its main aim was to spread racist and xenophobic views in the Czech Republic. Party leader Tomáš Vandas described the court hearings as a political process.
Meanwhile, the organised crime department of the Czech Police is carrying out another series of raids against right-wing extremists in various parts of the country. According to the website tyden.cz, a number of people have been arrested in Prague and Brno. The police have declined to comment until the operation is complete. In the last extensive operation, in October of last year, a nationwide series of house searches resulted in the arrest of 24 individuals, 18 of whom were subsequently charged with subversion of human rights.
On the third day of hearings against the extreme-right Workers’ Party, chairman Tomáš Vandas told the Supreme Administrative Court he sees nothing wrong with the party’s connections to the right-wing National Democratic Party of Germany. The government, which is currently filing for the dissolution of the Workers’ Party, made the case on Wednesday that the party’s ties to their German counterparts and other, much more radical German extremist associations is evidence of their obstruction of democratic values. Mr Vandas maintains that his party does not espouse neo-Nazism or other fascist ideologies; on Tuesday however he also refused to distance himself from comments made by a speaker at a party event referring to Zionist conspiracy and praising the government of Adolf Hitler. Should the court rule in the government’s favour, the Wokers’ Party would be the first political organisation in the Czech Republic to be banned for the obstruction of democracy.
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