An attempt by students to lay flowers under a plaque at Albertov to mark November 17th just hours ahead of the president’s speech there was clearly a provocation, the president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček told the Czech Television on Thursday. The police on Tuesday turned away students who wanted to mark the historic events, but they later allowed the president’s supporters access. President Miloš Zeman addressed a gathering that included members of the Bloc Against Islam, for which he has come under fierce criticism. On Wednesday, students announced that they would mark the anniversary ‘properly’ on November 28.
An Arab group planned a terrorist attack on the Sazka Arena (presently known as the O2 Arena) stadium in Prague during the ice hockey world championships in April and May 2004, the daily Lidové noviny wrote on Thursday, citing intelligence sources. “A group of Arabs wanted to fire an anti-tank missile into the building and cause panic, due to which people would be trampled to death,” a source from the secret services who requested anonymity told the paper. A former intelligence officer who occupied a senior post at the time confirmed the information, the paper wrote. The spokesman for the BIS counter-intelligence service refused to comment on the information. However, the threat was mentioned in the BIS annual report for 2004.
The Vice-President of the European Commission and EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini has postponed her visit to the Czech Republic, originally scheduled for Thursday. She was requested to change her plans by Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek, who suffered a leg injury, the ministry’s spokeswoman said on Thursday. Citing a highly-placed EU source Czech Radio’s news station Radiožurnál said the real reason may have been president Zeman’s controversial appearance at Albertov, when he voiced support for those opposing more immigrants coming to the country. Ms Mogherini was also set to meet with PM Bohuslav Sobotka, President Miloš Zeman and Defence Minister Martin Stropnický.
Czech police arrested two men with French documents and a car full of weapons on the Czech-Slovak border in April, the news website Lidovky.cz reported on Wednesday, suggesting that the Czech Republic might have been a state via which weapons were transferred for use in the terrorist attacks in Paris. A police patrol stopped the car with weapons near the border crossing in Starý Hrozenkov, east Moravia. They detained two men, both French nationals. In June, the police proposed that criminal charges be filed against them. The police, the daily said, then reported the case to the Czech National Contact Point for Terrorism, which falls under the police organised crime squad. The squad’s spokesman Pavel Hanták told Lidovky.cz that the suspects were caught transporting devalued expansion weapons bought in Slovakia. Such weapons are adjusted for shooting with blanks only. However, automatic rifles that can be easily adjusted to kill are also on sale in Slovakia, the website reported.
Czech performer Karel Gott was released from hospital earlier this week it was reported on Wednesday – some three weeks after doctors found the 76-year-old singer was suffering from Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. The cancer was uncovered after Mr Gott was taken to the emergency ward after suffering stomach problems. During his three-week stay, Mr Gott underwent chemotherapy and faces a second phase in the coming days, his spokeswoman revealed. She thanked supporters but asked that the media continue to respect the singer and his family’s privacy during treatment.
The Prague branches of TOP 09, the Civic Democrats and the Pirate Party, have agreed to non-binidng talks about forming a possible coaltion at City Hall, following the collapse of the recent municipal government. The parties, were they to find common ground, would still require additional support – together holding only 28 seats from 33 needed.
Students and their professors were denied the freedom this year at Albertov, the dean of Charles University’s Faculty of Science, Bohuslav Gaš, said in a statement released on Wednesday. He called the students’ not being allowed to the site of a plaque at Albertov to mark November 17th for security reasons (hours ahead of the president’s speech) unjust, and charged that the students had been treated like “intruders”. Other faculties also criticized the situation, pointing out the area was open afterwards to the president’s supporters. Last year, President Miloš Zeman’s speech was, at points, drowned out and his security team had to step in to prevent the head of state from being pelted with eggs by those opposed to his policies.
Twenty-two-year-old Los Angeles Kings goaltending prospect Patrik Bartošák was released on 10,000 US dollar bail earlier this week and faces domestic assault charges for an alleged attack on his girlfriend. According to reports, a hearing in the case has been set for December 16. The Los Angeles Kings released a statement saying the club was in the process of gathering information and would comment when it was appropriate. Bartošák was a 5th round pick in the 2013 draft by the Kings and has played the last two seasons for the club’s farm team.
Students who were not allowed to continue on to Albertov in Prague on November 17, to mark historic events (the execution and mass arrest of Czech students by the Nazis in 1939 and the start of the Velvet Revolution in 1989) say they will mark the anniversary ‘properly’ on November 28. Some 4,000 people, aiming to participate, have already signed up on facebook. On Tuesday, students aiming to mark the November 17th anniversary were turned away by security ahead of a speech by President Miloš Zeman where he appeared on stage several hours later with members of the Bloc Against Islam, for which he has come under criticism.
The country’s human rights minister and former presidential candidate Jiří Dienstbier has strongly criticized the head of state Miloš Zeman, charging he had thrown support behind “hate groups” in Czech society. On Tuesday, the anniversary of the fall of Communism in Czechoslovakia, Mr Zeman shared the stage with members of the Bloc Against Islam at Prague’s Albertov, a move which Mr Dienstbier said “crossed all lines”. The group is strongly anti-immigration, using a crossed out mosque and minaret as its logo. Mr Dienstbier said that some of the president’s past statements were xenophobic, had spread fear in society, and helped fuel fascistic sentiments. The president’s spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček, reacted to the criticism by saying the minister had “once again” shown scorn for regular “citizens, their opinions and concerns”.
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