Some 150 people gathered in the town of Studénka, north Moravia on Saturday to remember lost friends and family members who died exactly a year ago in one of the worst train accidents in the country’s history. On August 8th of 2008 a Comenius express train travelling from the Polish city of Krakow to Prague slammed into a motorway bridge that collapsed onto the tracks as it was approaching. Eight people died in the accident and over ninety were injured. Saturday’s commemorative gathering was attended by survivors, rescue workers and members of the local community who rushed to the scene to help.
Petr Fejk, the director of Prague’s Troja Zoo is reported to be considering a career in diplomacy. The internet server iDnes wrote on Saturday that the Czech Foreign Ministry had confirmed the news. Its spokesman Milan Řepka said certain negotiations had taken place and that Mr. Fejk had offered his services to the Foreign Ministry. Mr. Fejk himself is abroad attending a symposium and could not be reached for comment. He has run the Troja Zoo for the past eleven years.
The latest scandal surrounding Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolánek has sparked a debate on whether certain restrictions should be placed on the work activities of former intelligence officers. Mr. Topolánek was secretly filmed while on holiday, in the act of meeting with lobbyists and business leaders and it has now emerged that the photographs, which were leaked to the press, were taken by former intelligence officers. This has resulted in accusations that politicians use former intelligence officers for their own political ends. Czech law does not restrict former officers in their work activities but according to David Ondračka, head of the Czech branch of Transparency International some restrictions would be reasonable.
The country’s international airports have all been hit by the economic downturn, registering a fall in the number of passengers and a lower number of flights, the ctk news agency reports. The country's largest airport in Prague-Ruzyně reported a decrease in passenger numbers in the first half of this year - by 13.5 percent year-on-year to 5.1 million. The airport in Pardubice, eastern Bohemia, was the worst hit, with passenger numbers down 56 percent year-on-year. The main reason was a decline in the number of people travelling from Russia and the Far East, forcing the airport to scarp its regular flights to St. Petersburg and Moscow. Brno Airport dropped its regular flights to Gerona, Spain, while Ostrava-Mošnov Airport has seen a steep drop in the number of passengers on Prague/Vienna flights.
Half a dozen animal rights activists demonstrated outside the Escada boutique on Pařížská street in Prague on Saturday accusing the company of using real fur in its collections. The head of the boutique Petr Linhart said that he failed to understand the protest since Escada used fur only very rarely in a small amount, and the boutique in Prague had nothing at all made of real fur. He suggested the protest may have been instigated by a rival firm and suggested the demonstrators go and protest outside some of the shops in Prague that sell fur-coats.
Romany groups from central Europe have established a new umbrella organization to help fight growing extremism. The organization, named Association of Romany Civic Initiatives of Europe, was established at a Romany conference in Mělník this weekend. It currently comprises 19 groups and is chaired by Ivan Veselý, head of the Dženo group. Mr. Vesely said that Czech and Slovak Romanies had agreed to form a support network against neo-Nazis, for instance by demonstrating together in trouble-sports. He said that Czech and Slovak Romanies could also travel to Hungary to support the Roma minority there. The Mělník conference also focused on problems relating to emerging Romany ghettos, unemployment and education.
A late night return from a party in Frýdek Místek, Moravia ended in tragedy for three young people who were riding home on one bike. The eighteen-year-old who was steering the bike appears to have lost control and swerved into the opposite lane straight into the path of an oncoming vehicle. He was killed on the spot, his twenty-two-year old friend suffered brain damage and a twenty-one-year old woman escaped with light injuries and shock. It is not clear if the accident happened due to a sudden loss of balance or whether the young people were under the influence of alcohol.
According to a survey for CBC News Czechs are the world’s fourth biggest moaners. The survey based on 23,000 respondents from as many states compared their level of satisfaction with services used on a daily basis. Every second Czech surveyed had some complaint to make: overpriced food, rude waiters, slow city transport, unreliable travel agencies and so on. This put them at the top of the European moaners’ ladder; only one in four Poles and Hungarians found anything to complain about. The world’s biggest moaners are the Brazilians, with the Russians and Japanese on the opposite end of the scale.
A Danish couple who kidnapped their new-born son from a Danish hospital in mid-July and fled with him to Brno, Moravia, has been handed over to the Danish authorities, a police spokeswoman told CTK news agency. The baby’s mother is an addict and the child was born with a heroine addiction. The couple faces up to eight years in prison for the kidnapping, which doctors claim endangered the baby’s life.
The Brno regional court has ruled that a Czech family will receive 500,000 crowns in compensation for state repression the family suffered under Czechoslovakia’s Communist regime. In 1973, Karel Kořínek and his wife Jindřiška, were persecuted by the state for their religious and political beliefs. As a result they were sent to a psychiatric ward for a time. Although they were later released, the couple lost custody of their four children - three of whom grew up in orphanages (the fourth was raised by a relative). The four surviving family members will receive 125,000 crowns each and the country’s justice ministry has been ordered to apologise. The Kořínek family first filed their complaint in 1992 and had been asking for compensation of nine million crowns (the equivalent of around 500,000 US dollars). Judge Michal Ryška, who took over the case only recently, said it was “shameful” the family had had to wait 17 years for a verdict.