News Czechs commemorate Heydrich’s assassins
President Miloš Zeman, Defence Minister Martin Stropnický, and other officials as well as veterans and members of the public have commemorated the British-trained commandos who assassinated high-ranking Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich. Wednesday marks on the 72nd anniversary of their death. Jan Kubiš and Josef Valčík, along with five other soldiers parachuted into Bohemia, took their own lives after having been cornered by Nazi forces in a Prague church, three weeks after the assassination. Speaking at a ceremony held at the church, Defence Minister Martin Stropnický said the Czech Republic owed its existence to heroes like them.
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President Miloš Zeman has expressed the view that tougher sanctions against Russia would be in order if Kiev’s claims of a Russian invasion are shown to be true. If Russia is really sending its troops into Ukraine – and this scenario seems increasingly likely in view of the growing number of Russian soldiers there – then a strong response would be needed, the president said on Saturday. He added that the Czech Republic would also do well to increase its military preparedness and take a bigger part in multinational training exercises. At present Czech planes are helping to protect the airspace of the Baltic countries.
Over 1,500 Harley-Davidson motorcycles roared through Prague on Saturday at the start of Prague Harley Days, a two-day get together of Harley owners and fans. The gathering which is expected to attract around 10,000 people, includes side events such as an exhibition of Harley veterans, demo-rides and a concert. Visitors will also be able to admire the newest Harley motorcycles – Rushmoore 2015 and Street 750.
Sixth-seed Tomáš Berdych beat 65th-ranked Martin Klizan of Slovakia 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in 3 hours, 45 minutes Friday. Klizan double-faulted on break point to give Berdych a 3-1 lead in the final set. Berdych then saved a break point in the next game with a big serve. He fought off two more break points in the last game to serve out the match. Klizan had 66 unforced errors. Berdych reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open two years ago.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has expressed support for the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to become the new head of the European Council. The Czech head of government said in talks with the outgoing European Council president Herman Van Rompuy that it would be suitable to give the post to a member of the “new” member states admitted in a big-bang expansion ten years ago. Mr. Tusk’s appointment would send a strong signal to Moscow as Poland has been one of the strongest advocates of sanctions against Russia over its involvement in the Ukraine crisis.
Over 700 Czech soldiers are due to take part in the multinational military exercise Saber Junction 2014 at the training grounds in Hohenfels, Germany starting on Sunday. The ten-day exercise will bring together close to 6,000 servicemen from 17 NATO-member countries for a wide range of military operations. During theoretical and practical training soldiers develop skills in tactics, logistics, intelligence, evidence collection and other areas.
A man suspected of an acid attack against his ex-girlfriend has been placed in custody awaiting trial. The judge ruled in favour of custody for fear that the suspect, who had been living under a false identity and had no employment would try to flee the country. The man attacked his ex out of revenge, shortly after she broke up with him. She suffered serious burns to her face and arms and remains in intensive care. If convicted her attacker could face up to 12 years in prison.
Speaking ahead of an EU summit in Brussels on Saturday the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, called for a political solution to the Ukrainian crisis. He pointed out that the mutual implementation of sanctions between the EU and Russia had done nothing to stop the violence in Ukraine and the situation was fast spiraling out of control. The Czech prime minister said the EU must initiate political negotiations with Russia before resorting to broader sanctions in order to break the circle of threats and violence. In this connection Mr. Sobotka criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for further escalating the tension by reminding the world that Russia was a nuclear power.
Czech actor Petr Šporcl, a member of the South Bohemian Theatre in České Budějovice has died at the age of 72 following a long illness. The actor, the father of well-known violinist Pavel Šporcl, performed over a hundred roles over his theatre career including Horatio in Hamlet and Mitch in A Streetcar named Desire.
Police in the eastern city of Ostrava arrested two suspects, a 42-year-old man and 35-year-old female partner, believed to have sold five kilograms of heroin for more than 1.4 million crowns. The two are well-known to police and both have criminal records. They reportedly bought the drugs in Prague before reselling them in Ostrava and surrounding areas. Police have not ruled out additional arrests in connection with the case.
The Czech Republic is considering sending a military contingent to the Golan Heights this year, Defence Minister Martin Stropnický told reporters on Friday. There may be room for new troops in the mission there in October as the Philippine military is considering withdrawing its personnel. Czech President Miloš Zeman has long supported the idea of deploying Czech soldiers to the Golan Heights. The defence minister said he wanted to discuss the matter with the president and indicated he was not sure whether the Czech Republic would be able to prepare the contingent at such short notice. The deployment of troops would have to be approved by the government. According to the Czech News Agency, the military has a so far taken a reserved stance towards the plan, in part for financial reasons.