Historian and dissident Miloš Hájek died in Prague on Friday at the age of 94. Mr Hájek was a signatory of Charter 77 and eventually became its spokesman in 1988. He was also among the people to attend the now legendary breakfast at the French Embassy in Prague in December 1988 when Václav Havel and other dissidents met the then French president François Mitterrand. In 1995 he was recognised as one of the Righteous Among the Nations for his efforts to save people from the Holocaust. He was also awarded a Medal of Merit in 2001 at Prague Castle.
Court proceedings against the Czech Republic have been launched by the European Commission in Brussels. The Commission has launched court action against Prague over the fact that only Czech citizens are allowed to be notaries. It said that there was no cause for such national discrimination and pointed at that the Court of Justice had already delivered guilty verdicts in similar cases. Brussels said it was also monitoring the actions of other states with similar cases.
Participants marched to Prague castle on Thursday to commemorate the events 68 years earlier when around 7,000 students protested the takeover of power by the Communist Party in a move which was to herald 40 years of party dictatorship. Deputy chairman of the Senate, Přemysl Sobotka urged the marchers not to lose their ‘historic memory,’ describing the Communist era as the darkest chapter in Czech history since the Nazi occupation. The Communist Party seized power on February 25, 1948, when president Edvard Beneš agreed they could form a new government after members of democratic parties resigned.
Mene Tekel, a week-long festival focused on the totalitarian regimes of the past, gets underway in Prague on Monday. The festival, now in its 10th year, will focus on meetings with those whose lives were blighted by Nazism or communism and experts on those subject regimes, as well as including exhibitions, film screenings and other events. One of the highlights of this year’s Mene Tekel will be an awards ceremony on Friday at Prague’s Divadlo na Vinohradech theatre celebrating artists who resisted totalitarianism in their work or were persecuted for their beliefs.
A book issued at the end of last year has more than woken up a rather tired and threadbare debate about the death of former Czechoslovak foreign minister Jan Masaryk in 1948. Jan Masaryk, was found dead in his pyjamas in the street outside the foreign ministry. His death was explained as a suicide with the version given out that he had jumped from his flat at the foreign ministry building. But suspicions of murder were hard for the Communist authorities to quash. The communists had just taken over power a few weeks earlier.
Former communist-era prime minister Lubomír Štrougal will not face criminal proceedings over the deaths of 91 people who died on the Iron Curtain trying to escape Communist Czechoslovakia in the 1960s. A criminal complaint against the former communist leader has been shelved on the grounds that the statute of limitations in the case has long expired.
Former Czechoslovak prime minister and former Interior Ministry head Lubomír Štrougal will not face criminal proceedings over the deaths of 91 people who died trying to escape Communist Czechoslovakia in the 1960s. The news was confirmed by Jan Srb, the spokesman for the Office of the Documentation and Investigation of Crimes of Communism. The police investigated Mr Štrougal, 91, for accountability in the deaths of those who died on electric fences trying to escape Communist Czechoslovakia in the years 1961 to 1965. As interior minister, Mr Štrougal made no attempt to discontinue the use of electrified fences along the western border. He was not charged in the case and Jan Srb confirmed that the statute of limitations in the case had long expired.
Czech writers have joined a worldwide initiative in support of the Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh living in Saudi Arabia, who was sentenced to death by the Saudi authorities for his love poems, which allegedly contain atheistic formulations. A public reading, attended by a number of Czech poets, took place at the Faculty of Arts in Prague on Thursday evening:
Communist Party MP Marta Semelová, who shocked many with her comments on the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and the judicial murder of Milada Horáková in the 1950s, will not have to apologize for her words. A Prague district court dismissed the case against her on Wednesday, saying that the complaint was legally unsubstantiated.
The Prague 1 district court on Wednesday dealt with the case against Communist Party MP Marta Semelová for her controversial statements about the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia and the 1950 show trial of Milada Horáková. The defamation charges against Mrs Semelová were filed by TOP09 lawyer Michal Kincl. Police had previously said that the deputy’s comments on Czech Television in 2014 had not been a criminal offence. Mrs Semelová questioned whether Milada Horáková’s confession had been forced and said the Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia had in fact represented international help. The court later ruled that the MP had no case to answer and did not need to make an apology.