Dozens of people, including Justice Minister Daniela Kovářová, took part in a memorial ceremony for the victims of communism on Saturday at a memorial site at Prague’s Petřín Hill. The ceremony marked the 59th anniversary of the death of democratic politician Milada Horáková, executed following a Stalinist show trial by the former Communist regime. Numerous politicians attended, including Prague Mayor Pavel Bém: he stressed that the majority of those who suffered under the former regime remained largely unknown to the public.
A number of well-known Czech pop bands - including Kryštof and Mig-21 - performed for some 6,000 visitors in a street party held in Brussels on Friday, symbolically marking the end of the Czech EU presidency, which draws to a close this month. The Swedes take up the role of heading the EU next. Along with the music, visitors were able to sample free Czech beer and wine, as well as Czech salamis and cheese.
The Czech daily Právo has written that former prime minister Milos Zeman is considering a return to politics. Mr Zeman headed a minority Social Democrat government for four years from 1998 until 2002. In his interview for Saturday’s Právo, he said that he would consider founding a new leftist party after the upcoming early elections – if the Social Democrats and their right-wing rivals the Civic Democrats agreed on a grand coalition. Another motivating factor would be a deepening of the current economic crisis. Mr Zeman has been a vocal critic of current Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek.
In related news, a mild (level one) flood warning will remain in place for the Vltava River until mid-week, but the Czech capital, which lies on the river, is not under any threat. Prague Mayor Pavel Bém made the announcement on Saturday after a meeting with crisis team officials. The capital, meanwhile, is offering financial and material help to devastated areas.
Czech President Václav Klaus will on Monday meet his Slovak counterpart Ivan Gasparovič at Prague Castle during the latter's first official foreign trip after the start of his second five-year term in office. Mr Gasparovič, who was re-elected Slovak president in April and inaugurated earlier this month, will also meet Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer, and the two houses of parliament chairmen, Miloslav Vlček and Přemysl Sobotka. After meeting leading Czech politicians on Monday, he is to visit south Moravia on Tuesday to meet the regional governor and the mayor of Brno, and tour the UNESCO-listed chateau complex in Lednice. The visit will be Mr Gasparovič's second to the Czech Republic this year. The first, also an official state visit, took place in February.
A five-day conference centring on the return of property looted from Jews during WWII began in Prague on Friday. The conference – the last major event of the Czech EU presidency – was launched by Nobel Peace Prize winner and concentration camp survivor Elie Wiesel. The Holocaust Era Assets Conference is to take stock of moves so far to return property to victims and their relatives. A declaration it also to be signed by the Czech EU Presidency and EU Commission concerning education about the WWII genocide of European Jews, care of survivors and preservation of monuments linked to the Holocaust.
Heavy rain complicated conditions and led to renewed flooding in seventeen towns and villages in northern Moravia late on Friday. Overnight rescue crews worked to save 64 people and evacuate 150 individuals after their homes were hit by floodwaters. One person, a volunteer fire fighter, was reported missing and crews found his body on Saturday. He is the 12th flood victim in the area. Meteorologists are warning, meanwhile, that the danger is not over: emergency warnings remain in effect and areas of northern and central Moravia, as well as southern Bohemia, could be hit by additional flooding in the coming days. More than 500 soldiers are now on site in Moravia operating heavy machinery, and additional backup is on the way. Damage caused by the flash floods, which began on Wednesday, has already been estimated in the hundreds of millions of crowns.
Ivan Hašek has been named chairman of the Czech FA. Delegates from the Czech and Moravian chambers voted overwhelmingly in Hašek’s favour over the only other contender for the post Luděk Vinš. Hašek received 167 votes overall, to Vins’ 32. After the result, Mr Hašek congratulated the other candidate and appealed to delegates to elect close associates of his to the deputy leadership, to allow for broader changes in the running of the association. The 45-year-old Hašek is a former player for Sparta Prague, as well as a highly-respected coach.
The Czech Ombudsman Otakar Motejl suffered light injuries to his face and chest on Saturday when he crashed his car in Brno, an official said. His car hit a street light in the incident. Doctors treated Mr Motejl, who is 76, on the spot before transferring him to Brno's Teaching Hospital. The ombudsman was conscious and communicated with personnel, complaining about a pain in his chest. It is not Mr Motejl’s first crash: in 1999 - when he was justice minister - he crashed into a billboard and suffered a chest contusion.
The Czech daily E15 has reported that a Czech company, LOM, owned by the Defence Ministry, will likely upgrade and overhaul between 50 and 60 transport helicopters for NATO and the European Union. The daily cited company head Jindřich Ploch as saying the order would be the biggest since the Czechs joined NATO and the EU. The helicopters are needed for both military and humanitarian missions in areas in southern Europe, Africa, as well as for missions in Afghanistan. Ten other companies could also take part in the project, the daily wrote.