News Hundreds demonstrate against Putin in central Prague
An estimated 200 people protested against the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Prague on Sunday evening. The demonstrators, many of whom were Russians and Ukrainians resident in the city, gathered outside the Russian-owned Sberbank on the central Na Příkopě Street and carried signs such as Putin: Mass Murderer and Protect Democracy. They called on the Czech government to take a tougher approach to Russia.
For the daily news summary, available after 8pm CET, click here.
The 120 vehicle strong US military convoy, which is crossing six countries on its way back from operation Atlantic Resolve in the Baltic states, is now travelling through the Czech Republic. The convoy, made up largely of the eight-wheeled armoured combat vehicles Strykers and Humvees crossed the Czech-Polish border after 10 am on Sunday at Bohumín, Náchod and Harrachov and is heading for the towns of Výskov, Pardubice and Liberec where the approximately 500 US troops will spend the night at the Czech army’s military barracks. The convoy which is to demonstrate NATO unity and US commitment to stability in Europe, will spend four days in the Czech Republic before heading for its home base in Bavaria. Both supporters and protesters are expected to line parts of the route but, according to a recent survey 82 percent of Czechs said they have no problem with the convoy passing through.
Czech actress Blanka Bohdanová,85, received a lifetime achievement award for her work in the theatre at the 2015 Thalia Awards held in Prague on Saturday night. Bohdanová has starred in over 80 roles at Prague’s prestigious National Theatre in a career spanning over half a century. Others awarded were singer and actor Josef Zima for his lifelong contribution to the operetta and musical and Blanka Josephova Lunakova for her lifelong contribution to puppetry. Vilma Cibulková picked up an award for the title role in Leni, ballet dancer Tereza Podařilová was awarded for her role in Valmont at the National Theatre and Hana Fialová for the lead role in the musical Edith Piaf.
Czechs joined millions of people around the globe in turning off their lights for 60 minutes on Saturday night starting at 8:30pm local time in a symbolic show of support for the Earth Hour campaign against climate change. Earth Hour dimmed some of Prague’s best known landmarks including Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Old Town Square or the Žižkov TV tower. Prague and other cities around the Czech Republic first marked Earth Hour in 2012. More than 160 countries participated in the event last year
The Czech Republic snatched a 1-1 draw at home to Latvia thanks to a 90th minute Vaclav Pilar goal in their Euro 2016 qualifier to stay top of Group A on Saturday. The Czechs, who had started the day three points clear at the top, are now just one ahead of Iceland after they took a 3-0 victory against Kazakhstan in Astana. Coach Pavel Vrba said the result at home against a team that has yet to win was disappointing.
Some of the country’s most popular castles and chateaux opened their doors to the public this weekend, marking the start of the tourist season. Among them are Karlšejn, Křivoklát and Konopište, which annually attract over half a million visitors. Prague Castle also opened its doors to visitors this weekend. The country’s other historical attractions are due to open the season on April 1st or the long Easter weekend with price cuts and special events for visitors.
The 120 vehicle strong US military convoy, which is expected to cross Czech territory on its way back to Germany from a NATO military exercise in the Baltic states, is due to arrive at the Polish-Czech border at around 10 .30 am on Sunday. The convoy, which is travelling through six NATO member states to demonstrate NATO unity and US commitment to stability in Europe, will spend four days in the Czech Republic before heading for its home base in Bavaria. It is expected to meet both with supporters and opponents who disapprove of what they describe as NATO muscle-flexing on Czech territory. On the eve of its arrival several hundred people gathered on Wenceslas Square to air their views. Protesters, largely communist party sympathizers, mingled with supporters carrying US flags and the two comps engaged in heated verbal disputes. The police was out in force to keep the demonstrations under control. According to a recent poll 82 percent of Czechs have no problem with the convoy passing through and Czech politicians have repeatedly stressed that the US convoy is an allied force, not a foreign army.
The winner of the 2015 Prague Half Marathon is Daniel Kinyua Wanjiru from Kenya who covered the 21 km distance in 59 minutes 51 seconds. The first woman to reach the finishing line was Worknesh Degefao who covered the track in 1:07:14. Over 12,000 participants from around the world took part. The Prague Half Marathon holds IAAF Gold Label Road Race status and is managed by the same organization that holds the Prague Marathon in May.
The annual shift to summertime or daylight saving time is due to take place at 2am on Sunday, when clocks will be moved forward by an hour. In the Czech Republic the shift to summertime, introduced for economic reasons, has been implemented, with a number of breaks, for 36 years. Until 1995 summertime in the Czech Republic lasted for six months of the year, after that the country brought it in line with EU norms and it now lasts for seven months- i.e. until the end of October.
The Czech authorities have not disclosed any details with respect to the
negotiations leading up to the release of the two Czech women who were
kidnapped in Pakistan in 2013 or said where they were kept in detention.
Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said that the ministry did not want to
reveal further details at this point. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec
indicated that the Czech Republic had not paid a ransom to bring them back.
The Czech Republic does not negotiate with terrorists or pay ransom money,
he told Czech Television.
President Miloš Zeman’s spokesperson said the president was extremely happy to hear that the two young women had been freed and expressed his gratitude to the IHH NGO for negotiating their release.
Two freight trains collided head-on near the town of Litomerice on Saturday morning. One of the engine drivers was badly injured in the accident. It is not yet clear how the trains came to be on the same track. An inspection team is at the site of the accident and the rail track will be closed at least until the end of the day. The preliminary damage estimate is around 100 million crowns.