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31-08-2014 09:51 | Ian Willoughby

Ceremony held to mark anniversary of 1948 Communist takeover

Around 300 people gathered on Prague’s Old Town Square on Tuesday evening to mark the 66th anniversary of the Communist takeover of power in Czechoslovakia. People holding candles formed a circle around the square in order to pay tribute both to the thousands of victims of the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia and to the recent victims of violence in Ukraine. On February 25 1948, President Edvard Beneš accepted the resignations of 12 non-Communist government ministers and names replacements put forward by Communist PM Klement Gottwald, bringing an end to democracy in the country for over four decades.

Zeman to address European Parliament

The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, will address a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday. Mr. Zeman is also set to hold a joint news conference with the chairman of the institution, Martin Schulz, and to meet Czech MEPs. The leaders of the main factions in the parliament have said they expect a pro-European speech from Mr. Zeman. Mr. Schulz’s spokesperson pointed out that it came soon after a visit from Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and said that the European Parliament chairman welcomed the pro-EU position of the new Czech government.

Civic Democrats to run anti-euro campaign for European Parliament

The Civic Democrats’ campaign for elections to the European Parliament will centre on the rejection of the euro, the party’s freshly unveiled electoral leader Jan Zahradil said on Tuesday. The erstwhile main Czech right-wing party will also push a demand to close the European Parliament’s second home in Strasbourg and a freeze on energy prices. Second on the Civic Democrats’ ticket is Evžen Tošenovský, while Eva Zamrazilová is third.

Communist MP in hot water over comments about Horáková, 1968

Communist Party MP Marta Semelová could face criminal charges over contentious comments she made on a Czech Television interview programme. The deputy said that the testimony of 1950 show trial victim Milada Horáková had not been forced. She also asserted that the 1968 Soviet-led invasion had actually represented “international assistance”. Two hate speech complaints have been filed against Ms. Semelová with the state attorney’s office in Brno, one from a local mayor, one from the civic group ProtiAlt. Other Communist Party members have distanced themselves from the MP’s statements.

Anti-corruption police investigating halting of Blanka construction

Detectives from Prague’s anti-corruption and financial crime unit have begun investigating last year’s halting of work on the Blanka tunnel complex in the city, the Czech News Agency reported on Tuesday. At the end of last week, officers acting on the basis of a criminal requested that City Hall hand over documents relating to the huge building project. The anti- corruption unit believe that councilors’ decision to halt construction may have unlawful, the latter said. The current Prague authorities say the contract for the over-budget tunnel job signed by their predecessors was never valid. They have requested talks with the justice minister over the matter, which is also being investigated by a police organised crime unit.

Constitutional Court rules “grow shops” may not sell all items required for cultivation

The Constitutional Court issued a ruling on Tuesday confirming that marijuana cultivation suppliers may not sell all the items required to grow the plant in one spot as this constitutes the promotion of drugs. The court rejected a complaint from a so-called grow shop in Semily in northeast Bohemia against a previous ruling to that effect; it was delivered by a local court and later upheld by the Supreme Court. In November, the police’s anti-drugs unit used that ruling as the basis for raids on dozens of grow shops around the Czech Republic.

Tuesday 45th anniversary of self-immolation of Jan Zajíc

Tuesday marked the 45th anniversary of the self-immolation of Jan Zajíc in response to the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led troops and the “normalization” period that followed. Aged 18, Zajíc set himself on fire on 25 February 1969 as he felt a similar move by Jan Palach the previous month had failed to shake the indifference and apathy of Czechoslovak society in the wake of the occupation.

Růžička indicates interest in post of national hockey trainer

Vladimír Růžička has indicated that he would be willing to replace Alois Hadamczik as Czech ice hockey trainer. Hadamczik stood down on Monday, after the Czech Republic were knocked out in the quarter-finals at the Winter Olympics. In an interview for a radio station on Tuesday, Růžička said he would likely accept the post; however, he has not yet been approached by the Czech Ice Hockey Association and would need to discuss the matter with his club Slavia Prague. He helmed Czech teams that lifted the World Championships title in 2005 and 2010.

No new call-ups for debutant Czech soccer coach Vrba

The new Czech soccer trainer Pavel Vrba has called up no new players for his first game in charge, a friendly against Norway next Wednesday. Midfielders Jaroslav Plašil and Petr Jiráček have not been included in the squad, though it does feature stalwarts Petr Čech and Tomas Rosický, who is Czech captain. David Lafata and Matěj Vydra are the only strikers selected.

Forecasters: Current meteorological winter set to be among warmest ever

This meteorological winter looks like becoming one of the warmest since records began, according to experts from the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute. Meteorological winter runs from December 1 until the end of February. That period has been as mild as at present only three times in the last 80 years. In recent weeks, the temperature has hovered around 10 degrees Celsius; it is expected to remain there in the coming days.

Weather

It should be quite fair in the coming days, with temperatures of up to 11 degrees Celsius.

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