A group of Palestinian students expressed solidarity with Palestinians serving prison sentences in Israel at a gathering at the top of Prague's Wenceslas square on Saturday. The students handed out information flyers to passers-by in support of a hunger strike started by 4,000 Palestinian prisoners on August 15 to protest against bad prison conditions. On Friday evening, some twenty students in Prague also stopped eating in a 24 hour symbolic move to support the prisoners' cause.
Members of the skinhead movement from Prague and its surroundings will be attending a concert of the neo-Nazi Randall Gruppe band, Saturday's edition of the Czech daily PRAVO reported. The event is considered to be provocative as it is being held at the "U Karla Haslera" restaurant in Prague, named after famous Czech singer and song-writer Karel Hasler, who died in a Nazi concentration camp. The Czech police will be monitoring the event.
Former political prisoners came together at the Svaty Hostyn, or Holy Hostyn, pilgrimage site to remember their friends who were tortured and died in prisons under the Communist regime. The Czech Confederation of Political Prisoners has organised the pilgrimage every year since 1993, laying flowers at the memorial dedicated to victims of Communism, holding the names of all those who died in Communist prisons. According to the chairman of the federation, Leo Zidek, some 240 people were killed and 200,000 arrested in the forty years of Communist rule.
The Czech Republic celebrated its first victory at the ice-hockey World Cup when it beat Germany 7-2 at Prague's Sazka arena on Friday evening. The win means the Czechs finish the round-robin stage in third place. At the quarter finals on Tuesday, they will face the losers of Saturday's game between Finland and Sweden.
At the annual meeting of the Federation of Expellees in Berlin, its president Erika Steinbach criticised the Czech and Polish governments for failing to revoke laws from the post-WWII period that sanctioned the expulsion and confiscation of property of ethnic Germans. The people expelled are not after their property, all they want is reconciliation, she said. The Federation of Expellees is a non-profit organisation formed to represent the interests of an estimated 15 million ethnic Germans who were displaced from their homes in Central and Eastern Europe, mainly Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union, during the expulsion of Germans after WWII.
Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, who is currently attending a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Valkenburg, the Netherlands, told journalists on Saturday that the Czech Republic hopes to invite the children who survived the Beslan school siege in Russia to stay at Czech recreational spots to help them recover from the shock. The decision was made after Prime Minister Stanislav Gross consulted the idea with Mr Svoboda over the telephone. According to Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vit Kolar, up to one million Czech crowns (a little over 33,000 euros) from the state budget can be used to aid the affected families. Should the Russians accept the offer, a plane will be dispatched to pick up the victims and take them to recreational spots around the country.
At a different part of Prague on Saturday, Czech actors and musicians honoured and remembered Karel Hasler at the Prague Jarmark international folklore festival. Music and theatre groups performed in the city centre in support of a public collection to finance a Karel Hasler memorial - a life-size statue that his fans hope to unveil on October 31 2006, the 127th anniversary of Karel Hasler's birth.
The Slovenian-owned Czech-based travel agency Globtour announced
financial insolvency on Friday, apparently leaving dozens of Czech
tourists stranded abroad. Globtour cited "indifference" on the part of
its parent company as the reason for its financial straits. The Czech
insurance company where Globtour was registered has already begun
taking steps to bringing Czech tourists home from abroad.
Meanwhile, thirty-six clients who were supposed to set-off for package holidays to Montenegro on Friday were not dispatched.
Former communist functionary Karel Hoffman, who recently began serving
a four-year prison sentence for treason, has been released on the
grounds of ill health. A Prague City court ruled in favour of his
release on Friday after consulting a new medical report put forward by
prison doctors. The 80-year-old Hoffman had been found guilty of
treason and sentenced to four-years in prison for having ordered public
radio broadcasts to be halted at the time of the Russian-led invasion
of Czechoslovakia in August, 1968.
Mr Hoffman was the oldest prisoner in the Czech Republic and his health is said to have seriously worsened in recent days. In total, he spent twenty-five days behind bars.
The driver of a truck that collided with a vehicle belonging to ice hockey
coach Ivan Hlinka in August, resulting in fatal injuries, has been charged
with grievous bodily harm resulting in death. It is the second time police
have filed the same charge against the driver, following a formal mistake
the first time around. Nevertheless, a measure of controversy regarding
the case remains, with the public prosecutor criticising police
investigators for allegedly making mistakes at the accident scene; a major
Czech daily has also claimed police failed to take note of important
details connected with the crash.
Ivan Hlinka died in hospital in Karlovy Vary on August 16th, some time after his car was struck head-on.