Large concrete barriers which have been in place in front of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty building in the centre of Prague are set to be removed in the second half of June, the news website novinky.cz reported. The barricades were placed around the building in 2001, following terrorist attacks on the United States. The American-funded station has been gradually moving to a specially constructed new building in the Hagibor district in the suburbs of the Czech capital.
The minister for human rights and minorities, Michael Kocáb, says he would like to invite former president Václav Havel and the Czech Republic’s chief rabbi Karol Sidon to join a team to discuss solutions to the problem of far-right extremism in the country. On a TV discussion programme, Mr Kocáb said a group should be created to address the subject made up of leading sociologists, theologians, lawyers and political scientists. Prior to being replaced by a caretaker government on May 8, the current cabinet is due to deliver a new strategy to combat extremism. The move follows a number of far-right demonstrations and the attack in Vítkov.
The Czech Republic’s women’s tennis team have lost to the USA in the semi-finals of the Fed Cup. The best-of-five tie in Brno went down to the last match, when Iveta Benešová and Květa Peschke were beaten 2-6 7-6 6-1 by Liezel Huber and Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the doubles. The Czech duo had been very close to victory, with match ball at 5-2 in the second set, but the Americans fought back to take the match and the whole tie. The Czechs have not reached the final of the Fed Cup in 21 years.
The Czech minister for European affairs, Alexandr Vondra, says he will discuss with the artist David Černý the possibility of the controversial sculpture Entropa remaining in Brussels until the end of the Czech presidency of the European Union on June 30. Mr Černý has said he will remove the work eight weeks early in protest at the toppling of the Czech government less than half way through the six-month presidency. The large sculpture – which plays with European stereotypes – should come down within days of the appointment of a caretaker cabinet. Speaking on a TV debate show on Sunday, Mr Vondra said it was popular in Brussels. He added, however, that it was the right of the artist to decide what to do with his work.
A collection has begun to raise money for a Romany family whose daughter was seriously injured in a fire-bomb attack on their home last weekend. The appeal was launched by the regional authority in north Moravia, where the family live. The girl, who is two, is fighting for her life after suffering burns on 80 percent of her body, while both of her parents are also being treated in hospital for burns. Their one-storey house and its contents were destroyed in the attack, which took place in the town of Vítkov and is still being investigated.
Strong winds in several parts of the Czech Republic on Sunday led to fire services being called out twice as often as the annual daily average to deal with the damage. Trees and power lines were knocked down, while forecasters warned that the combination of gales and the recent dry weather could lead to an increase in the number of fires reported.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia are to have common representatives at two important international financial institutions. A Czech official will represent the two states’ interests at the World Bank, while a Slovak counterpart will do likewise at the International Monetary Fund. The positions will be switched after four years. Sixteen years after they split, the Czech Republic and Slovakia signed a treaty on the matter at a World Bank-IMF meeting in Washington in Saturday. Up to now both countries had their own representatives at the two institutions. The change is designed to save money.
Around 70 neo-Nazis demonstrated in front of the Interior Ministry in Prague on Sunday against the expulsion of a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan from the Czech Republic. David Duke was arrested and handed an expulsion order by Czech police shortly after arriving in the Czech capital on Friday for denying the Holocaust in his book My Awakening. Speakers at Sunday’s protest said Mr Duke had not himself denied the Holocaust, but asserted the right of others to do so. The demonstration was organised by Filip Vávra of the neo-Nazi group Národní odpor (National Resistance), who brought the former KKK head to the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic made light work of Denmark in their first game at the ice hockey world championships in Switzerland on Saturday night, winning 5:0. While Jaromír Jágr scored a goal and added two assists, the star forward was beaten to the man of the match award by 22-year-old goaltender Jakub Štěpánek, who justified his selection by keeping a clean sheet in his first match at a world championships. He and his team-mates next line out on Monday afternoon, when they take on Norway. The Czech Republic have won the tournament on five occasions, the last coming in 2005.
Prague police are investigating the deaths of a number of drug addicts in the city in recent weeks. Five addicts between the ages of 20 and 30 are believed to have died in different parts of the capital in the last fortnight. A police spokesperson said they were long term users who did not appear to have overdosed.
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