The majority of the anti-Romany demonstrations that took place in seven cities and towns around the country have ended without major conflicts and with fairly minimal attendance. The police faced the biggest clashes with extremists in Ostrava and České Budějovice. In both cities, demonstrators changed the approved route of the rallies and attempted to get near neighborhoods with large Roma populations. In Ostrava, around 600 extremists threw stones, garbage cans and sticks at the police. At least 20 people were detained there, and approximately 15 in the city of Plzeň, where around 400 people attended the anti-Romany demonstration. In other places attendance was much lower and demonstrations ended without incidents.
The top Czech female tennis player Petra Kvitová sailed into the New Haven Open final after beating her compatriot Klára Zakopalová in two quick sets on Friday afternoon, with the final score 6:0, 6:1. The 2012 New Haven champion will be defending her title on Saturday against the Romanian 23rd seed Simona Halep. The only WTA event Kvitová won this year was the Dubai Championship in March.
Chairman of the Social Democratic party Bohuslav Sobotka was confirmed as the party’s candidate for prime minister in the general elections, in an anonymous vote at the Saturday meeting of the party’s leadership. The vote was proposed by the chairman of the Senate Zdeněk Škromach, with 86 delegates voting for the current party leader and 51 against him. Mr. Sobotka also said tat the meeting that the Social Democrats would not enter into a coalition with either of the biggest right-of-center parties – the Civic Democrats or the TOP 09 party. In case the party wins at least a third of the votes in the October general elections, Mr. Sobotka said he can envision a creating a single-party minority government.
Former president Václav Klaus told Czech Television on Saturday that he is seriously considering a return to politics. The former head of state said that he sees the current political situation as so dire, that he feels he could make a positive contribution if there was a big enough movement supporting him. Chairwoman of the Sovereignty Party Jana Bobošíková met with Mr. Klaus on Friday, but no specific announcement was made after the meeting. Former Civic Democratic MP Boris Šťastný left his party on Friday and said that he would be interested in joining a political movement led by Václav Klaus. So far the two-term president and former prime minister said that he has no concrete plans, but that he has to make a decision in the next few days.
Director Jiří Menzel’s latest film Donšajni or The Don Juans will have its world premier at the Montreal World Film Festival on Tuesday and will appear in the World Greats category. Mr. Menzel has also been invited to be the president of the festival’s jury for this year. The Don Juans will tour Canada and later in September will be screened in the United States. It will have its Czech premier at the end of September. The comedy presents a modern take on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni.
Ahead of the planned anti-Romany protests in six Czech towns and cities, the Roma community and their supporters expressed disapproval of extremism on Saturday. In the south Bohemian České Budějovice, slogans on the pavement along the planned route of the demonstration appeared overnight. The slogans express an anti-extremist sentiment and question neo-Nazi ideology. In Brno, Jičín and Plzeň people are planning happenings, picnics and counter-demonstrations against extremism and violence. A few hundred people, who are mostly Romany, gathered in the city of Ostrava at a sanctioned meeting. The police have said that they are ready for the anti-Romany rallies and have sent anti-riot units and conflict resolution teams to all the locations.
The head of the Organized Crime Unit of the Czech Police Robert Šlachta has sent a letter addressed to members of parliament warning them against tampering with evidence or obstructing the investigations of the cases connected to the former prime minister’s chief of staff Jana Nagyová. The police had requested the lower house of parliament to provide them with videotapes and records of the MPs movements within the parliamentary building in July. Politicians from both sides of the aisle have so far refused, saying that the request is an encroachment on the rights of the legislative powers by the executive. Mr. Šlachta issued a stern warning after rules for the storage of information about MPs were changed this week, instructing deputies to get rid of all data by the end of their term in office. The new regulation means that the information the police needs for investigating alleged bribery could be destroyed within days.
An influential Civic Democrat MP, Boris Šťastný, on Friday announced he was leaving his party. In a statement on his website, Mr Šťastný said the Civic Democrats had abandoned their roots and betrayed their voters. The deputy said he was not leaving politics but would like to establish a new group which would facilitate the return of former president, and founder of the Civic Democrat party Václav Klaus to politics. There has been speculation that Mr Klaus, whose second term as president ended earlier this year, will attempt a political comeback either by rejoining the Civic Democrat party, another existing group or forming a new party.
An early general election will be held on October 25 and 26, President Miloš Zeman said on Friday, following consultations with leaders of parties represented in the lower house. The first session of the lower house after the elections was scheduled for November 26. The snap elections will take place two months after the Czech lower house voted to dissolve itself, ending a political crisis triggered by the collapse of the centre-right government of Petr Nečas. The president is expected to formally dissolve the lower house on Wednesday.
Free practice sessions are held on Friday at the Masaryk racing circuit outside Brno for Sunday’s motorcycle Grand Prix of the Czech Republic. Tens of thousands of fans are expected at the circuit which could cause problems on the D1 motorway outside Brno which is under reconstruction. Congested traffic on D1 is also expected on Sunday after the Grand Prix is over.
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