Josef Lesák, one of the leaders of the student resistance to the Communist takeover of 1948, has died at the age of 89. Lesák took part in the Prague Uprising against the Nazis in the last days of World War II in Europe, and became the youngest deputy in the Czechoslovak parliament a year later. On February 23, 1948 he led a march by students to Prague Castle to appeal to President Edvard Beneš not to give in to pressure and allow the Communist Party to take control of the country. When they did assume power, Josef Lesák was the first MP imprisoned. Last year he received a state honour for his contribution to the development of democracy and human rights.
One in 13 people in the Czech Republic now have diabetes, the Institute of Medical Information and Statistics said on Wednesday. Last year over three quarters of a million Czechs had the disease, with 20,000 more receiving treatment than in 2007. Over a quarter of the country’s diabetes patients suffer chronic complications, the Institute said.
Social Democrats chairman Jiří Paroubek says the question of whether his
party and the Communists could co-operate at government level is a closed
chapter. Such co-operation is not possible, he said in a statement on
Wednesday, adding that the matter could not be resolved so close to
elections in October. Earlier on Wednesday, Communist leader Vojtěch Filip
refused to say sorry for his party’s totalitarian past in an interview on
Some more liberal Communists have reportedly floated the idea that such an apology could pave the way for the Social Democrats to abandon a resolution ruling out working with the Communists at national level. The Communists made an apology soon after the Velvet Revolution; however, the other parties have kept them at arms length for the last 20 years and they have never been in government.
Sparta Prague beat Panathinaikos 3:1 in the first leg of their tie in the third qualifying round for football’s Champions League in Prague on Tuesday night. The Greek club knocked Sparta out at the same point last year, winning both legs. Sparta travel to Athens for the second half of that tie next week. On Wednesday night Slavia Prague are in action away to Sherrif Tiraspol of Moldova in the first leg of their third round tie.
The popular Czech singer Karel Gott is alleged to have written a letter in 1971to the then general secretary of the Communist Party Gustáv Husák, asking for clemency on his return to Czechoslovakia after he emigrated for a short period. The news website aktualne.cz published a letter in which Mr Gott appears to assure the Communist leader that though he had refused to return after a tour of West Germany, he had wished for the “normalisation” of social and cultural life in Czechoslovakia. Normalisation is usually used to refer to the restoration of conditions prior to the reform movement that culminated in the Soviet invasion of 1968. Karel Gott told aktualne.cz that he may have signed the letter, though in any case it would have made no sense for him to write to Husák.
The ministry of the interior is to introduce more police patrols in
“risk” areas following an increase in far-right extremism in the Czech
Republic. Interior Minister Martin Pecina made the announcement after talks
with President Václav Klaus on Wednesday. Over the last year far-right
groups have on a number of occasions marched on districts largely inhabited
by Roma, and the Czech government itself said a rise in extremism was
behind an increase in the number of Czech Roma applying for asylum in
Canada. That led Ottawa to introduce a visa requirement for Czech visitors
two weeks ago.
The interior ministry will also make a second attempt to have the far-right Workers’ Party banned; the last Czech government saw a similar bid rejected in March by the Supreme Administrative Court, which said it had put forward insufficient justification for the banning of the small group.
Over a month after his death at the age of 50, there are four LPs by the US pop star Michael Jackson in the Czech Republic’s top ten. Thriller tops the chart, Bad is at number three, Dangerous is at number 5 and The Essential is at number nine. Last week there were six albums by Michael Jackson in the upper echelon of the album chart.
Some Romanian Roma remain at a makeshift campsite by a lake on the
outskirts of Prague, despite an agreement reached with local officials on
Tuesday night for them to vacate the site. However, most of the 150 or so
who were camped out there have moved on. The group began gathering in the
Czech capital last Friday when a Roma teenager regarded as a “prince”
was admitted to hospital after nearly drowning while swimming in a Czech
lake. Officials at Vinohradská hospital said he remained in a serious
Sociologists told the Czech News Agency that the Czech Republic did not offer suitable conditions for the nomadic lifestyle. Roma in this country have been settled since 1958, when the Communists barred them from travelling about.
Czech police have said they will reopen an investigation into the sale of the country’s second biggest coal mining company, Mostecká Uhelná. The case was running for almost a decade until it was shelved a year ago. The reopening follows the discovery of new evidence by the Swiss general prosecutor who launched an investigation in the Spring, according to Czech Television. The investigation centres on suspicions the 1998 acquisition of the company – now re-named Czech Coal – could have been funded by billions of crowns which should have been set aside for re-cultivation of former mining sites but found its way into foreign bank accounts.
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Hundreds of thousands again gather in Prague to voice their opposition to prime minister