Some 4.9 million people have visited the Czech Republic’s chateaux and castles this season, which is 300,000 more than last year, the National Heritage Institute said at a press conference on Thursday. Conservationists expect the number to reach five million, since some of the castles and chateaux, such as Karlštejn, or Sychrov, remain open even during the winter season. Lednice remains the most visited chateaux, followed by Český Krumlov and Hluboká.
Prague Castle is stepping up security. In the future, access to St. Vitus’ Cathedral will only be possible by passing though security barriers. The president’s office is also seeking to complete a security camera system for the surrounds of the castle. Security flaws were exposed in September when a stunt art group flew a giant pair of underpants from a flagpole. The head of state’s office says the increased security is needed because of the threat of a terrorist attack.
Most Czech castles and stately homes will close this weekend at the conclusion of the summer season and what appears to have been a record year. Most expect to announce record visitor numbers for the season. The top draw in the Czech Republic, the Lednice stately home had more than 352,000 visitors by the end of September and expects the full year total to advance to around 400,000. It is opened only at weekends from October. The second placed attraction in the country is Český Krumlov.
The police have passed the case against three members of the guerrilla art group Ztohoven on to the state prosecutors office, police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulová has confirmed. The members of the renegade group, between the ages of 33 and 41, made international headlines when they posed as chimneysweeps, climbed onto the roof of Prague Castle, and replaced the presidential flag, an official symbol of the Czech Republic, with a pair of enormous red underpants. The move was meant as criticism of the current head-of-state’s past public behaviour and policies. The police charged the three with disorderly conduct, theft and the damage of private property; damages incurred in the stunt have been tabulated at 90 thousand crowns.
The head of the Prague Castle guard, Radim Studený, has been dismissed, the spokesman of the Czech head of state, Jiří Ovčáček announced on Monday. Studený’s imp[ending dismissal had already been signaled by Czech president Miloš Zeman, over the failure of the castle guard to prevent the guerilla artistic group, Ztohoven, hanging some massive red underpants from a castle flagstaff instead of the presidential standard. The stunt has already cost the head of the president’s bodyguard his job. The president’s spokesman said other changes in the staff as a result of the underpants stunt could still be in the pipeline.
Petr Dongres, the former head of President Zeman’s security team, has been appointed deputy head of the special operations force responsible for protecting public officials and visiting foreign dignitaries, the ctk news agency reports. Dongres asked to be released from his post in the president’s service after a breach of security last month in which activists, posing as chimneysweeps, managed to climb onto the roof and hung a pair of red underpants in place of the presidential standard. He had served as head of security at Prague Castle since 2012 when his predecessor Jiri Sklenka resigned after a man in the street shot several pellets at then president Klaus from an airsoft plastic gun.
President Miloš Zeman has said that in the event that his chancellor, Vratislav Mynář, fails to get top–level security clearance, there will always be a “respectable place” for him at Prague Castle. The Czech media reported this week the chief-of-staff had allegedly not been cleared and the chancellor himself confirmed on Friday that was the case. In the past the president said the aid, who applied for clearance in December 2013, could not remain in the post if he failed to receive it. But the president made clear on Thursday that he fully expected Mr Mynář to appeal the decision if it was in the negative.
President Miloš Zeman said on Thursday that his chancellor, Vratislav Mynář would have to quit his post if he fails to get the top-security clearance needed for the job. However he said he would give Mr. Mynář time to appeal the verdict if it proves negative. The president made a similar statement soon after taking office and appointing the chancellor, but it has taken two and a half years for the National Security Office to come to a decision, allegedly due to procrastination on the part of the chancellor in providing all the necessary documents. According to the daily Právo the security clearance has not been granted.
Petr Dongres, who heads the president’s security team at Prague Castle has asked to be released from his post in the wake of a breach of security last weekend in which activists, posing as chimneysweeps, managed to climb onto the roof and hung a pair of red underpants in place of the presidential standard. President Miloš Zeman had already made clear that Dongres could not remain in his post and on Thursday he indicated that more heads would roll, saying that the Prague Castle Guard was co-responsible for the breach of security.
Prague Castle is to beef up security following last Saturday’s incident in which activists, posing as chimneysweepers, managed to breach security and hung a pair of red underpants in place of the presidential seal. While the Castle insists the proposed measures have been on the cards for months, Czech president Miloš Zeman conceded that the current affair will speed up the discussions.
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