News Ethnic Czechs in Ukraine disappointed Prague unwilling to help them move “home”
Members of the small Czech community in the Ukrainian region of Volhynia say they are disappointed the Czech government has decided not to help them move to the Czech Republic. More than three dozen ethnic Czech families in Volhynia had said they feared for their futures given the political situation in Ukraine. Spokesperson Ema Snidevych told the Czech News Agency that officials from the Czech embassy in Kiev had not dedicated enough time to monitoring the situation of the Volhynia Czechs. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said on Monday the officials had decided that the minority were not in danger and wished to move to the Czech Republic for economic reasons.
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A famous villa on Prague's Kampa is set to become the Voskovec and Werich Arts and Social Centre in honour of the great Czech actors Jan Werich (who lived there) and Jiří Voskovec. It will be operated by the Jan and Meda Mládek Foundation. The authorities in Prague 1 voted on Tuesday to rent the Werich Villa to the organisation for CZK 600,000 a year on a 10-year contract with the option of another 10-year term when the first comes to an end. The future of the building had been the subject of speculation since 2002, when it was damaged in flooding.
Prague councillors have approved a possible return to paper long-term public transport passes that would start in March. The paper passes could be introduced if the city loses licenses for the Opencard electronic card system that was brought in to replace them. Opencard contracts signed by previous Prague governments are reported to have been overpriced. Mayor Adriana Krnáčová said last week that the city was prepared to introduce paper passes in order to avoid being forced to pay for new licenses under pressure of time. The operator of the service, eMoneyServices, has called for a stabilisation of the situation. Otherwise, it said, it would demand the city settle all its debts to the firm.
The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, has handed a second diplomatic note to the Norwegian Embassy in Prague in connection with the case of two Czech boys taken into care in the country in 2011 over allegations of sexual abuse. Their mother Eva Michaláková has been campaigning for their return. In the document, Mr. Zaorálek called on the Norwegian social services to enter into dialogue with their Czech counterparts. Norway's ambassador to Prague, Siri Ellen Sletner, said she would pass the note on to her country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Last year 233 couples entered into registered partnerships in the Czech Republic, 32 more than in 2013. The majority of the pairs – 148 – were men. Close to 4,000 gays and lesbians have entered such unions since the institution was introduced by Czech legislators eight and a half years ago. The information has been provided by gay rights activist Milda Šlehofer as no official count is kept, the Czech News Agency reported.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has warned of a “super-holocaust” leaving hundreds of millions dead if Islamic State is not stopped. Speaking in Prague at a conference marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Mr. Zeman said Islamic State was similar in nature to Germany's Nazis at the start of the 1930s. He called for unified armed action against Islamic State led by the United Nations Security Council and warned that more terrorist attacks would need to occur before the public realised that it wasn't possible to negotiate with terrorists.
The presidents of the Czech Republic and Slovakia honoured victims of the Holocaust in a memorial ceremony at the National Cemetery in Terezín on Monday. Both Miloš Zeman and Andrej Kiska condemned Nazi propaganda in connection with the former ghetto and concentration camp; the Nazis staged social and cultural events in the town during a visit by Danish representatives of the Red Cross in 1944 to mislead officials about the actual use of Terezín, where many died of disease and maltreatment or were sent on to death camps.
Czech No. men’s tennis player Tomáš Berdych snapped a 17-match losing streak against Spain’s Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open on Tuesday, defeating his opponent in straight sets to advance to the semi-finals. The Czech completely dominated in the first two sets and withstood Nadal’s attempt to fight back in the third. The final score was 6:2, 6:0, 7:6. Berdych faces Great Britain’s Andy Murray next.
Czech men’s No. 1 tennis player Tomáš Berdcyh faces Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on Tuesday looking to put the brakes on a less than lofty record against the star Spanish player: 17 loses in their last 17 match-ups. If Nadal wins their 18th match, he will set a new record in the Open era dating back to 1968. Since then, no player has beaten the same opponent 18 times in a row.
President Miloš Zeman as well as a number of prominent Czech politicians commented the results of the Greek election on Monday, won by leftist-party SYRIZA, which is aiming for austerity measures in place to be softened. The president’s spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček, said Mr Zeman had no intention of interfering in Greece’s internal affairs, but relayed the president’s comment that “debts should be repaid”. Czech right-wing parties called SYRIZA’s promises “unfeasible”; deputy chairman and MEP for the Civic Democrats, Jan Zahradil, maintained that the Greek leftist party had won as a consequence of the radicalisation of Greek society which he said stemmed from strict austerity measures imposed by the Euro zone.
The head of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, has said that Jews in Europe are close to a new exodus as they faced both economic pressure in some countries and threats from radical Islam. Mr Kantor made the statement ahead of an international forum on the Holocaust which began in Prague on Monday. The head of the EJC recalled violence last year and this - the recent attack at a kosher grocery store in Paris following the attacks at Charlie Hebdo – and called on the European government to do more to improve security for Jews. Mr Kantor is a Russian billionaire, allegedly with close ties to President Vladimir Putin. He did not answer questions concerning Moscow´s policy towards Ukraine on Monday, the Czech News Agency reported, but called Mr Putin a great friend to the Russian Jewish community.