Petra Kvitová beat Samantha Stosur 5:7. 6:3, 6:3 in the semifinals of the end-of-season WTA Championships in Istanbul on Saturday and reached tournament’s final. Kvitová made a series of errors in the fist set; in the second, the Australian was leading 1:0 and had a break point but Kvitová defended her serve and eventually dominated the whole match. In Sunday’s final, the new world number two will face Viktoria Azarenka from Belarus.
Daylight saving time in the Czech Republic and other European countries ends at 3AM on Sunday when the clock will shift back by 60 minutes. The time change will affect transportation schedules; in the Czech Republic, three international and seven national express trains will stop at train stations for the extra hour.
The police on Saturday detained two people at an anti-Romany rally in the town of Rotava, in northern Bohemia. A police spokesman said they were suspected of hate crimes. The police also confiscated several baseball bats, golf clubs and knives at the rally, organized by the extremist Workers’ Party of Social Justice. Some 400 people, including dozens of extremists from Germany, turned up for the rally who later marched through parts of town mostly inhabited by Romanies.
In his address at Prague Castle marking the Czechoslovak Independence Day, President Václav Klaus criticized the society’s lack of respect for authorities and conservative values which was at the heart of the unrest and frustration many people feel. Mr Klaus said Czechs were living in a relative prosperity but their community was threatened by a lack of cohesion that divides the society into opposing groups, such as those of the Roma and non-Roma. The president also criticized the coarsening of public discourse, especially in politics.
The Česká spořitelna bank has won a contract to supply cards to recipients of social welfare, the daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Saturday. The bank won mainly because it had the highest number of ATMs of all the participants in the tender, the daily wrote. However, the winner has yet to be cleared by the Czech anti-monopoly authority. Welfare cards are to be introduced as part of the government’s social and welfare reform; if approved by Parliament, some 86 billion crowns in welfare and other benefits should be paid through these cards. The state should save up to one billion crowns as it will not pay for the service; the bank will charge recipients fees for all but one withdrawal a month.
President Václav Klaus on Friday awarded state decorations and honours. WWII veterans Mikuláš Končický, Jan Velík and Václav Djačuk received the Order of the White Lion, the highest Czech decoration; the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk was awarded to seven people who were jailed by the Nazis or the Communists; the Medal of Courage was awarded in memoriam to a 16-year-old boy who died when he was saving his drowning friend, and the Medal of Merit was handed to 16 people including translator Martin Hislký, ski jump champion Jiří Raška, the jazz musician Emil Viklický, the cartoonist Vladimír Renčín, and others.
Czech Airlines will add two extra flights between Paris and Prague over the weekend, and will also increase the capacity of existing flights due to a strike by Air France cabin staff, a spokeswoman for the carrier said on Saturday. The strike is expected to affect some 20 percent of all Air France flights, including two to Prague. The spokeswoman for Czech Airlines said more flights would be added if needed.
Some 30 far-right extremists gathered at a rally organized by the Workers’ Party of Social Justice in the north-eastern town of Havířov on Friday. The rally, which had been banned by the local authorities, lasted for about 30 minutes; the party chair, Tomáš Vandas, criticized the authorities for allegedly oppressing the freedom of speech in the country. The organizers face a fine for holding the rally despite the ban.
The writer, poet, diplomat and former dissident Jiří Gruša died on
Friday at the age of 72. The head of the Czech Pen Club Jiří Dědeček
told the news agency ČTK Mr Gruša died in Hannover, Germany during heart
Jiří Gruša was born in Pradubice on November 10, 1938. He graduated from Charles University in Prague but was banned from publishing after the 1968 Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. He signed the human rights manifesto Charter 77 and left the country in 1981 and lived in Germany. After the fall of communism, he served as the Czech ambassador to Germany and Austria, and also briefly as the minister of education. In 2003, he was elected the head of the International Pen club.
Three hundred and thirty first-year students of the Czech Defence University along with 153 military recruits were sworn in at Prague Castle on Friday. After the ceremony, President Václav Klaus also appointed three new generals and promoted two other generals of the Czech military. The event was held as part of the celebrations of the Independent Czechoslovak State Day. While President Klaus said the new troops have undertaken immense responsibility while Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra noted the military oath also represented a moral commitment.
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