The head of the anti-organized crime squad of the Czech police Robert Slachta has warned that right-wing extremists in the country are regaining strength following a lull in the wake of intensive police actions in 2010. Speaking in a panel debate on Czech Television Mr. Slachta said there were signs that the ultra-right scene was uniting in a more organized and more sophisticated way than it had in the past. Ultra-right groups and movements suffered a bad blow in 2010 when a court banned the ultra right Workers Party and the Interior Ministry intensified its actions against right-wing extremists in the wake of a number of arson attacks against the Roma minority. At present there are estimated to be around 500 to 600 hard-core right-wing extremists in the country.
Over a thousand aviation fans descended on Prague’s Ruzyne Airport on Sunday morning for the first ever landing in Prague of the superjumbo A380 airbus. The double-decker airliner built for 850 passengers sported Lufthansa colours and landed in Prague just after 9 am Central European Time, some six hour earlier than originally announced. The colossal plane circled above the airport for about twenty minutes before making a problem free landing. It returned to its home base in Frankfurt shortly after midday. The appearance of the airbus in Prague was scheduled to mark the 45th anniversary of Lufthansa flights to the Czech Republic.
Over 500 guests attended a birthday bash for ex-president Vaclav Havel on Saturday. The party in honour of Mr. Havel’s 75th birthday next Wednesday, was attended by close friends from his dissident days, people from the arts world, politicians, writers and diplomats. Among the guests of honour were the former US secretary of state Czech-born Madeleine Albright, who is a close friend of Mr.Havel’s, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg who served as Mr. Havel’s chancellor during his presidency, actor Pavel Landovsky, director Jiri Mezel and the British writer Tom Stoppard.
Data published by Mag Consulting indicate that the government’s efforts to bring more tourists to the Czech Republic have proved successful. Between June and September of 2011 the Czech Republic attracted 15 percent more foreign tourists that in the same period last year. More Czechs are also reported to have holidayed at home this year, spending money at Czech wellness spas and summer resorts. The rise in foreign tourists is partly being attributed to the political upheaval in the Arab world which made some people reconsider their holiday plans.
Anti-Roma demonstrations held in the northern towns of Varnsdorf and Rumburk on Sunday ended without incident. Rising crime, petty theft and a high unemployment rate have unleashed a wave of anti-Romany sentiment in several towns in the north of the country with people repeatedly taking to the streets to demand action. Public anger in Varnsdorf has now turned mainly against the local administration which is being blamed for failing to deal with the situation. Local protesters took their grievances to Prague on Saturday where they verbally clashed with Roma rights activists and anarchists. Government officials, NGOs and local councils are working to defuse tension and address long-neglected problems but there has so far been little sign of tangible progress.
The three Czechs who died in a car crash in Nicaragua this week were university teachers who were working in the country on an EU-funded assistance project. The fourth passenger in the van – a young Czech student – who alone survived the tragic accident - remains in serious condition in hospital though he is reported to be out of danger. The driver of the lorry with which the van collided head on was reportedly driving without lights at night and is in custody. According to local media both vehicles had exceeded the speed limit. Brno’s Mendel University said it was devastated by the tragedy.
Police reinforcements in the north are costing taxpayers close to a
million crowns a day, according to police spokesman Jan Melsa. Riot police
units, psychologists and mediators were sent to the hotspots of racial
tension in the north such as Varnsdorf and Rumburk in mid-August when
extremist groups started organizing anti-Roma marches and demonstrations on
Government officials and local councils are working to defuse tension and address long-neglected problems but there has so far been little sign of tangible progress. The cost of police reinforcements in the area has so far amounted to 30 million crowns - at a time when the cash strapped interior ministry budget can ill afford it.
Prague’s mayor Bohuslav Sobotka has praised the outcome of a flood response training exercise conducted in the Czech capital on Saturday. He said the exercise had met the highest expectations and indicated a high level of preparedness even in the event of a serious flood. Within the exercise firemen and emergency crews erected a flood barrier along a three kilometre stretch of the Vltava river in one and a half hours flat. The deadline was four hours. The head of the team said good weather conditions and the fact that the city is half empty on weekends helped the effort. The flood barrier is to be dismantled by midnight and all traffic restrictions lifted.
Anti-Romany demonstrators from the north of the country took their grievances to Prague on Saturday where they verbally clashed with Roma rights activists and anarchists. The two groups demonstrated on Prague’s Palacky Square, held apart by a cordon of riot police as they hurled insults at each other. Demonstrators from Varnsdorf, which has been racked by ethnic unrest, chanted “Send the gypsies to Prague” while Roma-activists and their supporters held up signs reading “neo-Nazis out”. The demonstrations reflect growing tension in the north of the country where a rise in crime and petty theft –together with a high unemployment rate - have unleashed a wave of anti-Romany sentiment.
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