New legislation comes into force on Wednesday which should improve the situation for those seeking asylum in the Czech Republic. The legislation allows asylum seekers to travel within the European Union; those who have spent five years or longer in the country are granted the rights of long-term residents. The new bill also introduces stricter penalties for asylum seekers convicted of crime; the authorities can now cancel their residence permits.
The Social Democrats and the Communists held rallies on Wednesday to mark Labour Day, a public holiday in the Czech Republic. The Communist rally took place in Prague’s expo grounds where several hundred of their supporters gathered, including the last chairman of the totalitarian-era Communist party, Milouš Jakeš, and other former officials of the group. The Social Democrat event was held at the same site in the afternoon.
Forty people died on Czech roads in April, the lowest number since 1990. Two people, including a 16-year-old girl, died when a bus carrying French secondary-school students crashed in western Bohemia on April 8; two men were killed when their car got off the road near Karviná, in the north-east of the country three days later. The highest number of traffic-related deaths in the month of April was recorded in 1997 when 115 died.
Envoys of the Czech Catholic Church and of the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, handed a letter to Pope Francis in the Vatican on Wednesday, inviting him to July’s celebrations of the 1150th jubilee of Saints Cyril and Methodius. The main celebrations will be held at the pilgrimage site of Velehrad, in southern Moravia, marking the saints’ arrival in the Great Moravian Empire in 863. Pope Francis reportedly showed interest in the event although his office had earlier said the pontiff would this year only travel to Brazil.
Prague City Hall has failed to reach agreement on closing part of the Vltava embankment in the centre of the city to cars, postponing the plans for the summer. Earlier this month, City Council approved a plan to only allow pedestrians and cyclists on Smetanovo nábřeží, a section of the embankment between the National Theatre and Charles Bridge, a move welcomed by cycling advocacy groups. However, council members on Tuesday failed to agree on technical details. Deputy mayor Tomáš Hudeček however said the council would try to impose the ban on cars in the area in August or September.
A neo-Nazi march took place in Přerov, a town in eastern Czech Republic, on Wednesday. Around three hundred far-right extremists participated in the event which included a rally in the centre of the town followed by a march. The police reinforced their presence in the town; some seven hundred officers oversaw the rally in Přerov which was extremist groups’ main event held this year on May 1 in the country, according to the organizers.
Three people died in a road accident after their car plunged into a pond near Vestec outside the capital on Wednesday morning. Another three people travelling in the vehicle have been taken to hospital. The police said the crash occurred at 5:30 AM when the the car swerved off the road on a roundabout and landed in a retention cistern. The cause of the accident is being investigated.
Actor and Charter 77 signatory Pavel Landovský as well as bishop Václav Malý were among 23 people who were recognized as members of the so-called third anti-communist resistance movement. The recognition certificates were given out on Tuesday by the Defense Minister Vlastimil Picek. Some have criticized the fact that Minister Picek, who was a member of the Communist Party before 1989, gave out the awards. The defense ministry has given out 323 recognitions of third resistance membership so far, having rejected 583 requests, with almost 4,000 applications awaiting evaluation.
The Central Bohemian regional court rejected a request from former regional governor David Rath and two others accused in the same corruption case to be released on bail. The court determined that Mr Rath, as well as former MP Petr Kott and former director of the Kladno hostpiatl, Kteřina Pnacová, are at flight risk and will remain in custody until the trial. Mr Rath was arrested a year ago on corruptions charges and has been in custody ever since.
The design of the Czech Olympic kit for the 2014 Sochi winter games will be inspired by the paintings of the Czech artists Alfons Mucha, the Olympic committee chairman Jiří Kejval announced at a press on conference on Tuesday. Mr Kejval, together with the retired tennis star Ivan Lendl revealed the first images that will be featured on official Olympians’ clothing, which were taken in part from a postage stamp designed by Mucha. The design for the kit of the Czech team from last year’s London summer games was based on František Kupka’s painting Amorpha, which received considerable praise from the international media.
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