A gathering of the far-right Workers Party of Social Justice culminated in clashes with the police in the Zábřeh district of the eastern city of Ostrava on Friday evening. The neo-fascists’ leader Tomáš Vandas said the group were protesting against the spread of hostels for “the inadaptable”, a term usually used to refer to the Roma minority. Around 1,000 people attempted to march on a hostel chiefly housing Romanies but were blocked by the police. Some members of the crowd then threw bottles, rocks and firecrackers at riot police, who responded with teargas. Several arrests were made and five people were charged. Tensions have been high between members of the majority population and Romanies in a number of Czech cities and towns in recent months.
People around the Czech Republic took part in masses and other events on Saturday to mark the day of St. Wenceslas (Václav), the country’s patron saint. Thousands of people attended a traditional pilgrimage held in Stará Boleslav, the small town near Prague where St. Wenceslas was murdered on September 28 907; the event culminated with a mass served by the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Czech Republic, Archbishop Dominik Duka. Saturday was a state holiday.
The Czech women’s tennis number one, Petra Kvitová, has won the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. The one-time Wimbledon champion recovered from a drubbing in the second set to beat Angela Berber of Germany 6-2 0-6 6-3 on Saturday. It is the 11th WTA title of Kvitová’s career and, after Dubai, her second of 2013. Her latest success should see her return to the top ten, specifically seventh, in the women’s rankings on Monday.
Around 1,000 people took part in a demonstration in support of the Russian rock band Pussy Riot outside the country’s embassy in Prague on Saturday. One of the organizers told the Czech News Agency that freedom was indivisible and that if people did not support it now in Russia, it would be threatened in the Czech Republic. Three members of Pussy Riot received prison terms in Moscow last year for performing a crude song in a cathedral in the city; one has since been released and one of the two still in custody is on hunger strike.
Prague’s privately owned DOX Centre for Contemporary Art on Saturday celebrated five years of existence by granting free admission and putting on a number of workshops and other events for the public. Since it first opened its doors in 2008, DOX has held over 100 exhibitions, with a focus on bringing leading international artists to the Czech capital. The multi-storey gallery complex in the city’s Holešovice district was built by a small group of businessmen; it receives some funding from the City of Prague but does not make a profit.
Ultra nationalists demonstrated in central Prague on Saturday against what they described as the Czech Republic’s decay in the post-1989 period. Around 120 people took part in the protest, bearing slogans such as “national identity instead of globalised grey masses” and chanting against multiculturalism. In a speech on Wenceslas Square, one of the organisers called on voters to back parties defending Czech national interests in next month’s election, adding that some sections of the population should have their voting rights removed. Another group, of around 40 people, held a counter demonstration entitled We Won’t Give Wenceslas to the Nazis. There were no clashes between the two sides.
The Czech Republic’s Tomáš Berdych has reached the final of the Thailand Open in Bangkok. It took the tournament’s top seed three hours to defeat France’s Gilles Simon 6-7 (5/7) 6-2 7-5 on Saturday. Berdych is looking for his first tournament win since Stockholm last October; the world number 7 is the player in the ATP top 10 not to have won a trophy in 2013.
Doctors at Prague’s IKEM institute have for the first time successfully split a donated liver between two adult patients, a spokeswoman for the facility said. The operation took place on Monday when doctors transplanted the split liver to a man and a woman, a married couple who had suffered mushroom poisoning. The spokeswoman said she had no knowledge of a similar operation - splitting liver between two adult patients - being carried out anywhere in the world before.
More than a third of all the weapons exports from the Czech Republic last year went to countries which gravely violate human rights, according to a report released by the Czech branch of the advocacy group Amnesty International (AI). The study shows that of the 6.8 billion crown total arms exports, 38.6 percent were sold to countries without a democratically controled of the military, independent courts or police force and with authoritarian style of government. AI included countries such as Yemen, Egypt and Algeria on that list. The percentage of weapons exports to such countries increased by more than 4 percentage points since 2011.
Historians believe that they have found a fragment of the last surviving holy relic of the Czech patron saint Václav, or Wenceslaus. According to the curator of the Prague Castle collections, Milena Bravermanová, a small gilded cross made of iron netting, which is currently on the Saint Jiří gonfalon, was most likely part of St. Václav’s banner. The technique used to make the cross is almost identical to the one that was used to make the Prince of Bohemia’s armor, which Czech scientists have been examining for the past few years. Saturday is a state holiday that marks the anniversary of Václav’s death in 935, when he was allegedly stabbed by his brother Boleslav.
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