The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, will meet U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during a four-day visit to the United States, the Czech Office of the Government confirmed on Friday. The meeting is set to take place at the White House on November 18, the day before the Czech government leader attends the unveiling of a bust of Václav Havel at the House of Representatives in Washington. Czech diplomats had been seeking to organize a meeting with Mr. Biden for some months.
The Communist Party says that the Velvet Revolution was a “wasted opportunity”. In a statement released on Friday the Communists said it was not possible to regard the changes after 1989 as a success, adding that today the Czech Republic is run by a propertied oligarchy that pays no heed to the interests of citizens. The party said Czechs had greater social certainty under the previous system. It criticized the division of Czechoslovakia without a referendum and the fact the Czech Republic had joined NATO, which it described as aggressive. The Communist Party of Bohemian and Moravia is one of the few parliamentary parties in the region to retain the word communist in its title.
Influential businessman Roman Janoušek, who is due to serve four and a half years in jail over a hit and run incident, has filed a request with Prague Municipal Court to postpone his sentence on health grounds. His lawyer had previously stated that Mr. Janoušek had health problems following a brain operation and would need further surgery. One newspaper reported that he had been ordered to begin serving his sentence on November 18. The businessman’s hit and run incident came in 2012, days after a newspaper published wiretaps indicating that he had held considerable influence over politicians and officials in Prague, including former mayor Pavel Bém.
The Olympic women’s javelin champion Barbora Špotáková has split from trainer Jan Železný, who during his own career was the most successful male athlete ever to compete in the discipline. The two said they had reached agreement to dissolve their four-year association due to differing views about training, with Špotáková reportedly insisting she needed to tailor her schedule to take in caring for her first child. The 33-year-old, who this season became European champion for the first time, does not plan to engage a new coach.
A relay reading of Michael Žantovksý’s new biography of Václav Havel gets underway on Friday afternoon at the Lucerna Passage in central Prague. The reading from Havel is part of a Festival of Freedom, which has been put together to mark the 25th anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution. Most of those taking part are friends of the late Mr. Havel, who spearheaded the political changes at the end of 1989 and was president for 13 years. Mr. Žantovksý, who is now Czech ambassador to the UK, was his spokesman and advisor.
The Russian band Pussy Riot have responded to Czech President Miloš Zeman’s criticism of them in a recent radio interview. Speaking in the UK-based newspaper The Guardian the group’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said Mr. Zeman had behaved “like a usual patriarchal stupid guy” and would be better off not discussing Pussy Riot when he doesn’t know who they are. Mr. Zeman used a particularly strong Czech curse word to translate their name in a Czech Radio interview that was widely condemned for his use of bad language. The Czech president said he had been quoting other people’s swearing and refused to apologise.
Czech and Slovak political leaders are to attend a ceremony in Prague marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of communism. The ceremony, which is to be attended by Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and the heads of the Czech and Slovak parliaments, will take place in the one-time Czechoslovak Federal Parliament building at the top of Wenceslas Square. Participants will hear addresses from political leaders and former dissidents and honour the memory of the first post-communist speaker of the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly and Prague Spring legend Alexander Dubcek who died in a car accident in 1992.
The opening of Prague’s newly completed tunnel Blanka originally scheduled for December 2nd will have to be postponed due to a slide in the schedule of the final technology tests, according to Prague mayor designate Adriana Krnáčová. Ms. Krnáčová, who is due to take over the city’s administration in the coming weeks, told Radio Impuls that March now appeared to be a realistic date for the tunnel’s opening. The series of final technology tests started last Friday and according to the contract signed are to last for a period of 55 days. The outgoing city council has urged the firm undertaking them to speed up the procedure but the company says this would be a safety hazard.
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