Last week at a Council of Europe meeting in Warsaw, the Czech President Vaclav Klaus warned of what he called the dangerous influence of non-governmental organizations. President Klaus said that we are experiencing what he calls a "postdemocracy" - a society where democracy is being put under pressure by different groups which having no mandate from democratic elections still have an ambition to determine lives of citizens. But Mr Klaus's words have upset many people - not just those working in the non-profit sector, but also a group of former dissidents.
A group of former dissidents have hit back at a recent statement by Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who said that unelected non-governmental organisations had a dangerous influence on public life. In a letter to the president, the dissidents said discrediting NGOs was an attack on fundamental democratic principles guaranteed by the constitution. Signatories include Bishop Vaclav Maly, Rabbi Karol Sidon and former interior minister Jan Ruml.
Relations between Cuba and the Czech Republic have been thorny for some years, with vocal opposition to the Castro regime in Prague. Now Havana has increased tensions yet again, expelling Czech senator Karel Schwarzenberg just hours after he arrived in Cuba for an opposition meeting. Mr Schwarzenberg arrived in Cuba on Thursday on a tourist visa, and insisted he had not broken any law. Meanwhile, the Czech Foreign Minister describes his expulsion as unacceptable, saying it proves that Cuba is a totalitarian state.
An icy gale and drizzling rain pound upon new grass and gravel near the Vojna Memorial: located in the Pribram region of Central Bohemia Vojna was a prison camp that first housed Nazi criminals, then opponents of Czechoslovakia's Communist regime. Ironically, prisoners jailed there included some of Czechoslovakia's finest, who had fought for their country during the war, only to ultimately be branded as traitors and western spies. Today, Vojna serves as a most chilling reminder of one of the darkest chapters of Czechoslovak history.
Jan Kavan has been Czech foreign minister and president of the United Nations General Assembly. But Mr Kavan has also been involved in many controversies, and for years fought a legal battle to clear his name after being accused of collaborating with the communist-era secret police. In the 1980s he won a case against a British TV station, which claimed dissidents had been arrested when their names were found in a van he used to smuggle banned literature into Czechoslovakia. Here, in the second of a two-part interview, Jan Kavan gives his side of
On Wednesday morning the Czech President Vaclav Klaus was among a small group of people who gathered at the Russian Orthodox memorial chapel in Prague's Olsany Cemetery. They were there to remember a tragic and long forgotten episode that began just days after the liberation of Prague sixty years ago in May 1945. David Vaughan reports.
Jan Kavan is one of the most interesting and controversial figures in Czech society in recent decades. The son of a Communist politician sentenced in the Slansky show trials of the early 1950s, he himself spent decades in Britain as a leading figure in Czech émigré circles. After his return in 1989, Mr Kavan was accused of having collaborated with the secret police but cleared his name and later became foreign minister and was president of the United Nations General Assembly. In the first of part of this two-part interview, Jan Kavan told me about
It's a beautiful sunny day here in Prague and I'm standing on Prague's Letna Hill overlooking the Vltava River and the Old Town. Tourists come here today, not only for the breathtaking view but to see the large ticking metronome, which was erected here in 1991. But for the local residents this spot holds a darker memory - little do the tourists around me know that exactly fifty years ago, at this very site, some six hundred men and women were working around the clock to create the world's biggest monument ever to honour the Soviet Communist party
I was recently sent a letter by Joseph Hurka, an American writer and university lecturer. He enclosed a book he had written with the intriguing title "Fields of Light". In his letter Mr Hurka wrote, "The book follows a 1993 journey that I took to the Czech Republic to follow in the footsteps of my father, who fought in the Underground against the Stalinist government." I was absorbed and began to read. As Joseph Hurka tells his father's story there are moments of high drama:
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