Czech Television is planning to file a lawsuit against the neo-Nazi National Party after the group sent the station a racist campaign ad promising the “final solution of the Gypsy problem”, the news website novinky.cz reported. Czech TV broadcast the clip on Wednesday, because legally they had no choice, a spokesperson said. Both Prime Minister Jan Fischer and Minorities Minister Michael Kocáb condemned the election spot and called on the minister of the interior, Jan Pecina, to order an investigation into the matter.
In an interview with the AFP news agency, Prime Minister Fischer said his government would seek a ban on the far-right Workers’ Party. A request from the previous government to have the group declared illegal was rejected by a Czech court. Mr Fischer also said his interim cabinet would not set a date for adoption of the common European currency. The caretaker prime minister is due to unveil his government’s policy priorities in the next few days.
On Tuesday, the Czech Charter 77 Foundation awarded two young Czechs, Jakub Štěrbík and Stanislav Vodička, this year’s František Kriegel Award for outstanding personal courage. A year ago the two stood up to skinheads shouting hate slogans and giving the Hitler salute. For his efforts, Mr Štěrbík was stabbed in the neck; his friend Stanislav Vodička came to his aid and was also knifed.
At a commemorative service at the former Terezín concentration camp in central Bohemia on Sunday, speakers warned against the rise in far-right extremism in the Czech Republic. Around 1,500 gathered in the National Cemetery at Terezín on Sunday to commemorate victims of Nazism. After a laying of wreathes, head of the Terezín memorial, Jan Munk warned against the rising number of far-right gatherings and marches taking place across the Czech Republic. He said that ‘as a Czech and a Jew’ he felt threatened by this trend. Head of the Czech Senate Přemysl Sobotka said that he was unhappy with the amount of media coverage far-right extremists enjoyed in the Czech Republic, and said that more should be done to clamp down on neo-Nazis in this country. This Sunday’s ceremony was the 63rd annual commemorative service at Terezín concentration camp, where over 2600 people died, and from which many thousands more were transported, during the Second World War.
On Sunday, the Czech presidency of the European Union condemned discrimination against gays and lesbians, marking International Day against Homophobia, which was celebrated in more than 50 countries. In a statement, the EU’s Czech presidency said that it rejected and condemned any manifestation of homophobia, calling the phenomenon a ‘blatant violation of human dignity’. The presidency said it was deeply concerned by the use of the death penalty in parts of the world to punish those found guilty of being homosexual. The EU urged authorities to ensure that ‘sexual orientation and gender identity may under no circumstance be the basis for criminal penalties’.
Czech Minorities and Human Rights Minister Michael Kocáb wants to create a foundation to buy out a pig farm located on the site of a former Nazi concentration camp where hundreds of Czech Romanies died during WWII. Romany rights groups have long sought the removal of the large-scale pig farm from the site, and the Czech government has come under repeated criticism from the European Parliament for failing to move the facility elsewhere. Previous governments pledged to abolish the pig farm but said they did not have the funds to do so. An estimated 600-700 million crowns (30-35 million USD) is required to relocate the farm and transform Lety into a memorial of the Romany Holocaust. Speaking at a commemorative service at the site on Wednesday, Human Rights Minister Michael Kocáb said he would ask Czech firms such as CEZ to contribute to a fund which would pay for the pig farm’s removal.
The Czech police have cracked down on a group of Vietnamese involved in illegal production and distribution of cigarettes in the Czech Republic and Germany. A special unit seized 9.5 million cigarettes, 15 tons of tobacco, several hundred thousand cigarette stamps, seven cars and three million crowns in cash when detaining the suspects. The group allegedly shipped raw tobacco leaves from Vietnam and China and operated a secret production line in the Czech Republic which could put out 2,500 cigarettes per minute. Some were sold in the Czech Republic, the rest smuggled to Germany. Seven Vietnamese nationals have been charged with tax fraud.
The Romany pop group Gipsy.cz are the Czech Republic’s entry in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. After Czech Television itself selected the band to represent the country in Moscow, the station’s viewers picked the song they are going to perform, Aven Romale. Gipsy.cz are currently in the Russian capital preparing for the first semi-final on Tuesday, but shortly before they left I spoke to the group’s leader Gipsy (real name Radoslav Banga). My first question: what does representing the Czech Republic at Eurovision mean to you?
In one of its final acts before leaving office, the Czech government has just approved a new strategy to deal with a rise in far-right extremism. The release of the plan follows a period in which neo-Nazis, said to be increasingly organised, have attacked members of the Roma minority and clashed with the police. But what actual measures will be taken to deal with the far-right?
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