Sylva Šimsová was 18 when her father, a Social Democrat politician, told her the family had to escape from Czechoslovakia. It was 1949, a year after the Communists had taken power. The young Sylva insisted that her fiancé, whom she had met through her beloved scouts only six months earlier, come with them. Remarkably, almost 70 years later she and her husband – a composer and broadcaster who goes by the name Karel Janovický – are still together.
Hynek Martinec first came to international attention when a painting of his girlfriend Zuzana earned him the British National Portrait Gallery’s BP Young Artist Award in 2007 and he has since cemented his reputation as one of the Czech Republic’s leading visual artists. Martinec, who is 37, is currently preparing for a major exhibition at the National Gallery here in Prague. Before Christmas I spoke to him at his London studio, which at the time was dominated by his wonderful painting Allegory of the Internet.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that there are some million and a half Americans of Czech ancestry (and about 300 thousand more who declare Czechoslovak ancestry). Although few of them still speak the language of their forefathers, they still keep their traditions alive. Vít Pohanka visited some of the Czech communities in Oklahoma.
Czechs living abroad will start casting their ballots in the second round of presidential elections on Thursday, a day earlier than in the Czech Republic. Polling stations will first open in Brazil, at 5 p.m. Central European time, followed by Argentina, Chile, Cuba and the eastern coast of the US and Canada.
Ladislav Hornan, who is chairman of the British Czech and Slovak Association, has enjoyed a very successful career and led one of the UK’s top accountancy firms for many years. He came from a relatively privileged background in Prague, where his mother Magdalena Horňanová was a music professor and writer. Unusually, Mr. Hornan returned regularly to Czechoslovakia after emigrating in 1968. Until, that is, he spent almost a month in a Prague jail on spying charges in the mid-1980s. In a meeting room at his company’s City of London building he shared
With over a quarter of a million followers, Jiří Šiftař must be one of the most popular Czechs on Instagram. Going by the name Jeera on the photograph sharing service, he is mainly known for stunning pictures of his adopted home of London. Jiří Šiftař and I met at a restaurant in the city near his workplace at Lloyd’s bank, where he designs web interfaces for customers. I first asked him whether he had been into photography as a child.
More than 45 percent of Czechs abroad voted for Jiří Drahoš in the first
round of presidential elections. Pavel Fischer finished second with over 20
percent of the vote, followed by Marek Hilšer with more than 11 percent.
The incumbent Czech president Miloš Zeman, who won the first round with
round in the Czech Republic, secured 7.5 percent of the vote to finish in
the fifth place.
Jiří Drahoš gained more than 50 percent of the vote among Czech voters in the US and Brussels. Miloš Zeman, on the other hand, secured votes of Czech soldiers on foreign missions, coming in the first place in Kosovo and Afghanistan.
More than 12,000 Czechs living abroad cast their ballot in the first round of presidential election, most of the in Great Britain, Germany and Brussels. There were altogether 109 polling stations outside the Czech Republic, mostly at Czech embassies and consulates.
Some Czechs abroad have already been voting in the presidential polls.
In the United States, Czechs could vote from Thursday 8 pm Central European time. Voting is possible in person in New York, Chicago, Washington, and Los Angeles. Interest in the vote is said to be higher than in October’s elections to the lower house of parliament.
The Czech consul in Washington said around 1,000 Czechs were registered to vote with participation at around 70 percent. Many can also cast correspondence votes.