Five NGOs have sent an open letter to President Miloš Zeman, calling on the head of state to act responsibly and not fuel hatred they alleged is poisoning Czech society. The letter is an analogy to the letter the late Václav Havel sent as a dissident to Communist President Gustav Husák in 1975. It was signed by the Prague Academic Club 48, the Edvard Benes Society, the Antonín Švehla Society, Mene Tekel and the Centre for Documentation of Totalitarian Regimes. The president has come under criticism in the past and as of late for appearing on the same stage as groups such as the Bloc Against Islam (whose leader Martin Konvička faces charges of inciting hatred) and. for example, for his stance on China. The NGOs, in the letter, charge that Mr Zeman was acting as a “deliberate architect in the fomenting of hate”. The president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáćek responded by calling the letter part of a continuing campaign against the head of state, saying Mr Zeman enjoyed a high approval rating and united society.
A number of Czech players in the NHL have agreed to play for the national squad at this year’s Ice Hockey World Championships set to begin on May 6 in Russia. Players who agreed to play under coach Vladimír Vůjtek include goalie Ondřej Pavelec, defencemen Michal Jordan and Jakub Nakládal and forward Tomáš Plekanec, all of whose NHL clubs failed to make the Stanley Cup playoffs. David Krejčí, of the Boston Bruins, is not expected, idnes reported.
Austrian President Heinz Fischer arrived in the Czech Republic on Monday for the start of a two-day visit. He travelled by train to Prague’s main station and then on to Lány where he was received by President Miloš Zeman. The two heads of state laid a wreath at the grave of Czechoslovakia’s first president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and later held talks at Lány Chateau. A plaque was also unveiled in a special ceremony at Stochov train station, to mark President Masaryk’s meeting with his Austrian counterpart Michael Heinisch 95 years ago. On Tuesday, President Fischer will meet with Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and attend a Czech-Austrian business seminar in Prague.
The police have revealed they stopped a motorist who took a harvester onto the D11 highway near Hradec Králové – a vehicle for which he lacked proper registration papers. Several other regulations were also breached: according to idnes.cz the vehicle, due to its size and limited speed, had no business being on the highway in the first place. The 23-year-old motorist, who reportedly bought the harvester in Poland and was trying to get it home to Znojmo, reportedly faces a potential fine of up to half a million crowns.
Tallest Czech Tomáš Pustina has died at the age of 38 following numerous health complications, Czech news sites reported on Monday. Mr Pustina, who set the height record in 2006 at 2 metres and 24 centimetres and 178 kilograms in weight, reportedly suffered cardiac arrest in his sleep; originally blood poisoning had been reported as a possible cause of death. Mr Pustina suffered from general poor health, suffering knee and hip problems which limited his mobility. He was cared for by his mother after losing his father in 2012. Mr Pustina had two movie roles in past years: one in a 2009 Czech crime thriller, Hodinu nevíš, the other in the 2015 fantasy horror Tale of Tales starring Salma Hajek, Vincent Cassel and others.
Public broadcaster Czech TV has defended the rights of musicians who voiced criticism of President Miloš Zeman in a live broadcast on Saturday of the annual Anděl music awards. Ahead of her performance, respected singer Lenka Dusilová lashed out at the president over his recent support of China, accusing him of “groveling before regimes which suppressed freedom and democracy”. Her words were echoed by fellow performers David Koller and Klára Vytisková. The president’s spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček, reacted by calling the criticism of Mr Zeman about “as brave as artists on Czechoslovak television in 1977 pledging support for socialism”. He suggested the opposition voiced by one of the artists was fueled by frustration that their alleged man, Karel Schwarzenberg, lost to Mr Zeman in the presidential election.
Some 700 people were evacuated from a complex in Prague known as Justiční areál Na Míčánkách which is the headquarters of several city district courts and state prosecutors’ offices on Monday after an anonymous bomb threat. Police searching the area found no evidence of explosives; the threat was called in at 9:30 am and the operation wrapped up before noon.
Jaromír Jágr and his club the Florida Panthers face the New York Islanders in the first round of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, which begin on Wednesday. Sunday saw two final regular season games, including the Islanders’ 5:2 loss to Philadelphia which saw them drop to the first wild card position in the Eastern Conference. Jakub Voráček assisted in the match and goalie Michal Neuwirth turned away 15 shots.
The east Bohemian town of Hradec Králové saw the opening of a new facility on Monday which will streamline all information regarding application for European funds. The building in question was renovated at the cost of 20 million crowns. The Minister for Regional Development Karla Šlechtová confirmed that the building, called Evropský dům (European House) was the first facility of its kind in the Czech Republic. Regional governor Lubomír Franc said the facility would make it easier to navigate the application process.
The vast majority of inhabitants in the Moravian-Silesian town of Karviná are in favour of the continuation of coal mining in the area, fearing the area would otherwise be hit by a rise in unemployment and also possible seizure of property by court order, if local mines shut down, a new poll by STEM/MARK suggests. The company OKD operates mines in the area which are losing money. Layoffs and closure of the plants have long been discussed locally. Seventy-five percent said they favoured the mines being saved while 99 percent said they feared unemployment; 93 percent of respondents said they worried about the seizure of property if they were not able to pay off debts.
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