Cities and towns across the Czech Republic marked the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII in Europe on Friday. Seventy years ago Germany signed the official capitulation ending the war. The main commemoration took take place in Prague at the Vítkov memorial with president Miloš Zeman and Minister of Defense Martin Stropnický attending along with veterans from the war. In Prague various events were held including a reconstruction of an army camp at the end of the war, barricades recalling the Prague uprising, and street exhibitions highlighting the lives of soldiers and civilians caught up in the conflict. Although the war officially ended on May 8, fighting continued in former Czechoslovakia as retreating German forces tried to reach US lines in the West ahead of the advancing Russians. Friday is a national holiday.
A march through the centre of Prague started Friday midday in favour of the legalisation of marihuana in the Czech Republic. Organisers of the ‘Million Marihuana March’ were hoping for around 8,000 to participate in the event, around the same attendance as last year. The final estimate of participants was around 5,000. Streets were closed and dozens of police drafted in to accompany the event. Marihuana is legal for the treatment of certain medical conditions but possession of more than a small amount is still an offence. Studies suggest that marihuana is the most popular drug in the |Czech Republic with more than half those aged between 15 and 34 saying they have tried it.
President Miloš Zeman congratulated British Conservative leader David Cameron on his party’s election success Friday. The Czech president’s comments came as the Conservatives were clearly heading to be the largest party but before their absolute majority in the lower house had become apparent. ANO’s Minister of Defence, Martin Stropnický, who like Zeman reacted to the ongoing results at the Vítkov commemoration of the end of WWII, said he was surprised by the victory when everything had suggested a close result. Civic Democrat (ODS) leader, Petr Fiala, said the Conservatives had won without cheap promises and thanks to turning the economy around. The party’s deputy chairman Petr Zahradil said the victory was good news for those who wanted to reform Europe and prevent it becoming a federal and centralist state. The ODS are ideologically and politically close to the British Conservatives. The Conservatives have promised a referendum on whether to stay in the EU by the end of 2017.
The Czech energy group EPH has said it will put in a binding bid for a majority stake in Slovakia’s dominant electricity producer, Slovenské Elektrárne. The announcement followed news from local rival ČEZ that it would not make a bid for the 66 percent stake held by Italy’s ENEL. EPH already has Slovak energy assets with a minority 49 percent holding in the country’s main gas company SPP and ownership of one the country’s three regional electricity distributors. It’s main business though is focused on coal fired heating plants in the Czech Republic and Germany.
In ice hockey, the Czech Republic beat Austria 4:0 in the world championships in Prague on Friday. The first period was goalless. Ondrěj Němec opened the scoring in the 32nd minute with two more goals following in the final minutes of the period from Martin Zaťovič and Vladimír Sobotka. The final period was just seven seconds old when Jakub Voráček made it four. In spite of two power plays for the Czechs to march ended without further goals. The result takes the Czechs into third place in the group, ahead of Switzerland but trailing Canada and Sweden.
In tennis, Petra Kvitová has reached the singles final of the Madrid Open after beating first seed Serena Williams 6:2, 6:3. It is the first time that the 25 year old Czech has beaten the US player in her career. She lost all five of the previous encounters picking up only one set. Kvitová will now face Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final.
In the ice hockey world championships, the Czech team beat France 5:1 to record its second win in the group so far. The Czechs now lie in fourth place, trailing group leader Canada, second placed Sweden and third placed Switzerland. The Czech team had to wait until the 22nd minute to open the scoring with the first of Němec’s two goals on the night. France later pulled back to 1:2 with Hercquefeuille finding the net. Other Czech scorers were Sobotka, Červenka, and Jágr.
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