Tributes have been paid to the legendary Czech World War II pilot General Frantisek Perina, who has died at the age of 95. The chief of staff of the Czech Army, Pavel Stefka, described him as a hero. He said the general, who returned from exile in 1993, had helped build the modern Czech Army. The minister of defence, Karel Kuhnl, praised General Perina's ability to discuss issues such as patriotism and defence of the nation with all generations.
On Saturday the liberation of the west Bohemian city of Plzen by US troops on May 6, 1945 was remembered in a celebration entitled "Thanks, America!". A number of veterans of the liberation attended the event, as did Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, who said it was one of the most significant events in modern Czech history. Monday - Victory in Europe Day - is a state holiday in the Czech Republic.
Senior police officers may also have been to blame for an incident in which a government official was beaten by a policeman during a demonstration, the interior minister, Frantisek Bublan, said on a TV debate programme on Sunday. Mr Bublan said the police's system had failed because officers without special riot training had been deployed. Police officer Tomas Cermak may face criminal charges after injuring the head of the government's human rights section Katerina Jacques during an anti-Nazi protest.
World War II Czech prime minister Alois Elias has been buried with full
military honours at Prague's Vitkov national memorial, 64 years after his
General Elias served under the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
but was executed by the Germans in 1942 after the assassination of its
governor, Reinhard Heydrich. His wife Jaroslava was also reburied.
Memorial ceremonies were also held on Sunday at Prague's Olsany cemeteries for those who fell in the Prague Uprising of May 1945, as well as British, Soviet and Bulgarian fighters.
The Czech ice hockey team got off to a less-than-ideal start at the World Championships on Friday night, drawing 1:1 with host nation Latvia. Coach Alois Hadamczik said the team had failed to take advantage of their powerplays, and were poor in both passing and shooting. The Czech Republic's next game is against Slovenia on Sunday.
A court in Prague has exonerated another Czech World War II pilot, Josef Bryks, Mlada fronta Dnes reported. After serving with the RAF and spending time in a German prisoner-of-war camp, Bryks was sentenced to hard labour in a Communist show trial; he died in the 1950s while working in a uranium mine. His English-born widow Trudie Bryks said it was ironic it had taken so many years for the sentence to be rescinded. The Confederation of Political Prisoners has asked the president to grant the pilot a posthumous state honour.
Health Minister David Rath says he does not rule out the possibility of a Civic Democrat minority government supported by his Social Democrats. Speaking in Lidove noviny, Mr Rath said that was one possible variant, and would be better than a "grand coalition" of the Civic and Social Democrats. However, his party colleague Bohuslav Sobotka said such a configuration was not being discussed by the Social Democrats: he said if they cannot form a government it would be better to go into opposition. The Civic Democrats continue to head the polls four weeks ahead of the elections.
One of the greatest Czech heroes of World War II, General Frantisek Perina, has died in Prague at the age of 95. General Perina won a reputation as an excellent fighter pilot during the Battles of France and Britain, but was forced out of the Czechoslovak Army by the Communists after the war. He went into exile in 1949 and spent many years in Britain and the United States before returning to the Czech Republic in 1993. The general received many state honours both at home and abroad, including the Czech Order of the White Lion.