Jailed Belarusian human rights’ activist Ales Bialiatski is historically the first winner of the Vaclav Havel human rights prize, the Council of Europe announced on Monday. The prize is awarded jointly by Parliamentary Committee of the Council of Europe in cooperation with the Václav Havel Library and the Charter 77 Foundation. Ales Bialiatski who heads the Minsk-based Viasna Human Rights Centre was selected out of 27 candidates for his tireless efforts in defending human rights in Belarus. He is currently serving a 4.5 year prison sentence for alleged tax evasion.
A 34-year-old postal service worker in the Brno area has been charged with fraud. The woman allegedly abused the trust of senior citizens, signed their pension slips and took their money. In order to deflate suspicion she originally covered her own needs from their pensions and paid them back later when she received her own salary, but later claimed the money had simply not arrived. If convicted she could face up to two years in jail.
A moving express train came close to crashing into a stationary express train at Neratovice in central Bohemia on Saturday evening. The fact the two machines were on the same track has been blamed on human error. After the emergency brakes were activated on the moving train it came to a halt around 100 metres from the one that was standing. No passengers were injured in the incident, which follows a similar situation involving two local trains on the outskirts of Brno earlier this month.
A flood protection system at Prague Zoo should be extended within the next three years, the city’s first deputy mayor Jiří Vávra said at an event marking the 82nd anniversary of the institution’s opening. According to an analysis that Mr. Vávra presented, it is possible to erect barriers around the zoo without causing greater flood damage to other spots in the Czech capital. The report was commissioned after flooding in June that badly affected lower parts of the zoo, which had been devastated during severe floods in 2002. This year’s damages are expected to exceed CZK 100 million.
The Czech Republic’s Tomáš Berdych has been beaten in the final of tennis’s Thailand Open in Bangkok. The tournament’s top seed lost 6-7 3-6 to Milos Raonic of Canada on Sunday and remains the only player among the world’s top 10 not to have won a title in 2013. Berdych, who is 28, last lifted a title in Stockholm in October last year.
Major road works on the Czech Republic’s busiest motorway, the D1, have come to an end for this year. A section of the highway between Loket and Hořice was reopened on Sunday morning, meaning the entire road – which runs from Prague to Ostrava – is now open to motorists. The huge modernisation project is set to cost CZK 14 billion, much of which will be drawn from European Union funds.
The Czech Republic’s biggest health insurer VZP plans to seek a loan of CZK 2.5 billion from the Ministry of Health, the former’s director Zdeněk Kabátek said on a Czech Television debate show on Sunday. Mr. Kabátek said that the minister of health, Martin Holcát, had already expressed support for such a loan, which would fill a gap in VZP’s budget for this year. The insurer’s director also said that it planned to buy the controversial website IZIP, via which it communicates with its clients, for CZK 59 million. At present VZP spends CZK 72 million every year on the site’s services.
The renowned Brno theatre Husa na provázku has marked the 45th anniversary of its establishment with a nine-day festival that came to a conclusion on Sunday. A representative of the theatre said most of the events in the Theatre in Movement festival – including at unusual venues such as the Moravian capital’s Villa Tugendhat – had been sold out, adding that it was still pushing to have a nearby alleyway renamed after the late playwright and president Václav Havel, who had a long association with the theatre.
Police in Prague made 82 arrests on Saturday night in connection with a game between the city’s two biggest soccer clubs Sparta and Slavia at the latter’s Eden Stadium. The majority of those arrested were Sparta fans. Most were detained for misdemeanours, while 13 are suspected of promoting fascism or disorderly behaviour, the Czech New Agency reported. Police said they were also looking for a man who threw a firecracker into a group of Slavia fans. Sparta won the game 2:0 and maintained their lead in the Czech top division.
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.
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