A court in Pardubice is hearing the case of a Czech man accused of
involvement in a terrorist attack on the territory of Ukraine in 2015.
The man allegedly visited Ukraine in the summer of that year and joined in the fighting on the side of separatists in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic.
He joined the Czech Army soon after his return, but failed to pass psychological tests and was given a menial job in the force.
He claims he is innocent of the accusations, saying that he had made up stories and bragged about his time in Ukraine to friends.
Czech politicians have joined in the widespread international condemnation
of the tragic Easter attacks in Sri Lanka.
President Miloš Zeman called the attacks “monstrous”, offering heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed and injured. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš likewise expressed shock over the news saying an attack against believers who had come together to celebrate Easter Sunday was “unbelievable” and “unacceptable”.
Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček said he was appalled by the tragedy and stressed that the Czech government was ready to help in whatever way possible. Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček also condemned the attacks, offering condolences to the families of the victims and wishing the injured a speedy recovery.
According to local police sources the number of people killed in the attacks has now reached 290 with at least 500 people injured.
The Czech Foreign Ministry said it had no news so far indicating that Czech nationals may have been among those killed or injured. It said any Czechs in need on the island should turn to the Czech Embassy in Delhi for help.
Imam Leonid Kushnarenko, head of the Prague Muslim Community, has been
removed from office and expelled from the community. Both the Czech Muslim
Community and its Prague branch distanced themselves from Kushnarenko after
he posted a call on Facebook for Muslims to arm themselves in response to
the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The head of the Czech Muslim Community Munib Alvari said the vote to expel Kushnarenko had been unanimous. Kushnarenko, who on Facebook offered to help any community members who wanted to acquire an arms license to protect their lives and property, said he would not appeal the decision and said it was important for emotions to subside.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček has welcomed the news that the
last IS enclave in Baghuz, eastern Syria, has been taken.
He added however that the fight against international terrorism was not definitively over and said the Czech Republic was ready to cooperate with its allies to help end the conflict in Syria by all the means at its disposal.
The Czech Republic is the only EU member state that operates an embassy in Syria where it also represents the interests of the US.
Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has strongly denounced Czech
President Miloš Zeman’s claims that Turkey was a de facto ally of the
Islamic State. The ministry’s spokesman said the statements are false and
insulting, both to the country and its president.
The Czech head of state said on Tuesday that despite seeking EU membership and being a NATO member, Turkey had served as a mediator in logistics operations for the Islamic State when it occupied parts of Syria and Iraq.
President Zeman also accused his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of pursuing a policy of Islamizing his country.
Prague’s Muslim Community has distanced itself from statements made by
its new chairman, Leonid Kušnarenko. In a video posted on his Facebook
profile he offered to help members of the community to acquire firearms. He
made the offer in response to the recent terrorist attack on Muslims in New
Zealand’s Christchurch and a growing anti-Islamic mood in the Czech
The Prague Muslim Community said that any statements made by Mr. Kušnarenko expressed his views alone and did not represent the attitude of Muslims in the capital or elsewhere in the Czech Republic.
In connection with the terrorist attack in New Zealand’s Christchurch,
the Czech minister of the interior, Jan Hamáček, says the country’s
police force are investigating all instances of people expressing approval
on the internet of criminal acts. Mr. Hamáček said on Twitter that
officers had begun monitoring such cases on Friday.
Police chief Jan Švejdar said that the force would not tolerate any expressions of agreement with terrorism, extremism or hate speech. Czech police have responded to internet hate speech in the past, including in late 2017, when they dealt with cases of vitriol directed at a photo of a mixed-race group of primary school children.
Forty-nine people were murdered and dozens more were seriously injured in a gun attack on two mosques in Christchurch on Friday.
Czech leaders have condemned Friday’s attack on two mosques in
Christchurch, New Zealand that claimed 49 lives and left 50 wounded.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš tweeted that he was ‘appalled by the horrendous terrorist attack’ and extended his ‘deepest sympathy to the friends and families of the victims and all people of New Zealand.’
Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček also sent condolences, calling the attack ‘repugnant’. He said that he rejects all forms of violence, including that which is aimed at people of another faith.
No Czech citizens are believed to have been killed or wounded in the attack.
Czechs are looking back at 20 years in NATO. Their country joined the Alliance together with Hungary and Poland on March 12, 1999. Since then NATO has grown significantly and undertaken several major international military operations. Vít Pohanka highlights the most important developments in the Alliance over that time and how the Czech Republic participated in them.
At Prague Castle on Tuesday senior Czech politicians addressed a ceremony marking exactly 20 years of the country’s membership in NATO. The country’s prime minister said the alliance needed to be more active in some regards but described membership as crucial, while the foreign minister highlighted the threat posed by Russia.