Residents of Visky, a tiny village near the Brdy military zone, are
holding a symbolic referendum on a proposed US radar base. The United
States have asked the Czech Republic to host a radar installation as
part of a broader missile defence shield the US has planned in Europe.
Visky has 31 residents eligible to vote: at least two-thirds had voted
by noon Saturday. The mayor told the media that locals were against the
idea of a radar installation not only in the Brdy area but in the whole
The referendum, which is not binding, follows a similar vote held in the village of Trokavec, where 71 of 72 voters were against. Negotiations on a possible US radar base in the Czech Republic will continue between Czech and US representatives until later this year.
The controversial exhibition called "Bodies... the Exhibition" seen by some 16 million viewers has opened at Prague's Lucerna Palace in the city centre. The exhibition features preserved human bodies and body parts. According to organisers "human tissue is permanently preserved using liquid silicone rubber that is treated and hardened". Organisers have suggested that the aim of the show is to allow visitors to see up-close the inner workings of the human body. The exhibition will last in Prague until September of this year.
In related news, meteorologists have issued fire warnings in west Bohemia near Karlovy Vary, and Liberec in north Bohemia as a result of a continuing dry spell. The warnings will be in effect from Saturday to Monday at least. Parts of the Czech Republic have been threatened by drought in recent weeks after a mild winter and spring saw little snow cover and subsequent melting, as well as less rainfall than usual. By comparison the Czech capital, as well as eastern parts of the country, is expected to see rain over the weekend.
A ceremony in honour of those who fought in the Prague Uprising at the end of World War II has been held in front of the Czech Radio building on Prague's Vinohradska Street. The building and the area around it was the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting at the end of the war when Czechs rose up against the German occupiers. May 1945 saw around 30,000 Prague citizens fight the Nazis over three days with more than 1,500 losing their lives. The memorial ceremony on Saturday was attended by veterans, the defence minister, members of Parliament as well as the head of Czech Radio and others.
The national ice hockey team coached by Alois Hadamczik and led by team captain David Vyborny faces an important match at the Ice Hockey World Championship in Moscow on Saturday evening. The Czechs, who finished top of their group in the first round, want to put qualifying for the quarter final playoffs back on track after suffering a surprising 2:0 upset at the hands of Germany earlier this week. On Saturday the Czechs will face former compatriots Slovakia. According to the Slovak press the game's outcome will depend on which team has the greater inner-strength and "heart".
Hundreds of supporters in favour of the legalisation of marijuana gathered in Prague on Saturday both at the historic Old Town Square and later at Letna Park overlooking the city. The event included the sale of beer and performances by live bands. The march was held as part of the Global Million Marihuana March which includes a number of cities. It is the tenth time the event has taken place in Prague. During that period, observers say, Czech attitudes towards marijuana have changed; organisers of the march point to 2005 as a key year when even a number of political figures reportedly admitted to having tried the drug. But many experts disagree with legalisation, pointing to potentially harmful effects. According to EU statistics some 22 percent of young Czechs have tried marijuana, a figure that is about ten percent higher than the European Union average.
More than 100 fire fighters in the area of Melnik, northwest of Prague, spent twenty-four hours between Thursday and Friday battling a local forest fire. Crews were informed of the fire at around noon on Thursday. On Friday a police helicopter with special equipment was also deployed. Damages have been estimated at 300,000 crowns (around 15,000 USD). The fire covered four hectares of forest not close to any tourist trails. It is the second time in recent months that fire fighters have had to tackle a forest fire in the Melnik area: in March another fire caused even greater damages worth 150,000 US dollars.
In NHL playoff action Czech star forward Jaromir Jagr and his New York Rangers fell in a 2-1 overtime loss to Buffalo on Friday night. The Rangers got the potential go-ahead goal late in the third period from Czech Martin Straka, but Buffalo tied the game with less than 8 seconds left. The Sabres then managed to score early into the extra period, clinching the win. The loss for the Rangers leaves Jagr and co. on the brink, down 3-2 in the best-of-seven series. Jagr described Friday's match as his toughest in five years; Game 6 will be played in New York.
Public broadcaster Czech TV has reported that a court in Johannesburg, South Africa will decide on the possible release of Czech-born fugitive businessman Radovan Krejcir on bail later this May. The broadcaster said the decision could take place between May 17th and the 24th. Mr Krejcir is wanted by Czech authorities on suspicion of a number of crimes, including, allegedly, plotting to have a customs officer murdered. Mr Krejcir fled the Czech Republic in 2005 during a police search of his villa. He later resurfaced in the Seychelles, where it came to light he had obtained Seychellois citizenship much earlier. Mr Krejcir was arrested recently in South Africa using a false passport.
In directly related news, as the protest got underway the coalition government on Friday signed an agreement postponing the new leaving exams until 2010. At that time students will be tested on their knowledge of the Czech language and literature as well as a foreign language. A third subject - chosen by students themselves - will be added in 2012.