News Minister of Culture leads Lety commemoration
Minister of Culture Daniel Herman led a commemoration on Friday at the site of the World War Two Lety internment camp for Roma which was created in July 1942. Herman recalled that the labour and internment camp for the Roma population from Bohemia camp was run by Czech officials from the Protectorate police force and that their brutality was equal to anything carried out by the Germans. Most of those who died at the camp were children. Those who survived were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz death camp. Herman said he and minister for human rights Jiří Dienstbier were working on plans so that part of the site of the camp would no longer be a pig farm but a suitable commemorative site.
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Police revealed on Monday that 51 people died in traffic accidents in the Czech Republic in the month of November, bringing the total number of road deaths over 11 months to 604. The number of people who lost their lives on Czech roads this year is higher by 28 compared to the first 11 months of 2014.
Heavy rainfall throughout Monday night led to a rise in water levels on parts of the Otava and Labe rivers. Flood warnings are in effect in Šumava. Levels are still rising in areas, nevertheless the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute expects the situation to improve over the course of Tuesday and for the risk of flooding to diminish.
Many Czech cultural, academic and professional institutions will mark the 700th anniversary of the birth of the famous Czech monarch and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV next year. Details of the programme were unveiled on Monday. The National Gallery will present a unique series of exhibits in the sphere of culture and arts focussing on Charles IV's day, the gallery’s director Jiří Fajt said. The government is likely to sponsor projects by providing funding of around 90 million crowns. A final sum has not yet been approved, but will in any case be lower than the originally proposed limit of 250 million. On Monday, organisers also revealed the official logo.
Czech singer Daniel Landa has cancelled a tour which had been scheduled in major cities across the Czech Republic next year, citing security reasons. He made the announcement at a press conference on Monday, suggesting he could not justify bringing together large groups of people at concerts as details about his involvement in a secret project emerged. The singer claimed he had worked for the last seven years with members of the international Afghan community which is fighting Islamic State. He said he was due to consult details with Czech politicians and the intelligence services. As a performer Daniel Landa has sold 1.2 million records in the Czech Republic; in the late 1980s he co-founded a now long-defunkt skinhead band which was accused of racial overtones. The band denied the accusations and claimed that their music was misunderstood.
Police checked 1,500 establishments with liquor licenses in the second wave of an operation to curb underage drinking across the country. This time officers detained 287 minors – 51 more than in October. The news was released by the spokeswoman for the police presidium on Monday. Extra checks of venues are to continue until the end of the year.
More than 90 percent of Czechs fear that European security will be threatened over the next 20 years, a new poll by the STEM agency suggests. A similar number said that the threat was likely to come from the east, while three-quarters of Czechs said the EU needed to do more in defence. The poll was conducted before terrorist attacks in Paris killed 129 people. The results of the poll contrast sharply from 2007, when 62 percent feared a threat to Europe, compared to the 93 percent now.
The Green Party will push for legislative changes such as the legalisation of the growing of marijuana for both health and recreational use, as well as (with rising effectivity) a shorter work week, according to the party’s new policy programme agreed at the weekend. Party chairwoman Jana Drápalová made clear that Germany and Denmark were a source of inspiration for the party, which served in a centre-right government led by Mirek Topolánek in 2006. In elections in 2010 and 2013, however, the Greens did not get enough votes to make it into the Chamber of Deputies.
The Gulag Online Museum presenting a 3-D reconstruction and virtual tour of the former Soviet labour camp system will be launched by the Czech association Archipelago in March or April of 2016, its head Štepan Černoušek has told the Czech News Agency. The aim of the project is to allow internet users to learn more about the infamous system and specific sites on the internet. The organiser said that while most people knew the names of Nazi concentration camps, and that museums had been built at sites annually visited by hundred of thousands of people, the names of Gulag labour camps such as Pechora, Kolyma, Norilsk or Yermakovo were far less known. He added that no museum had been built at the locations so far.
Strong result in music competition by controversial group more to do with message than music, say critics
An online music and style magazine rating the recent Czech Nightingale pop contest suggests that a strong result in the survey by the group Ortel had less to do with music and more with the band's controversial image and texts, building primarily on fear in Czech society. In one of its videos, for example, frontman Tomáš Ortel sings in the position of a hostage held by Islamic militants. Another of the group's songs became an anthem for a Czech far-right party. Despite stoking controversy, the group is not considered an extremist band by one of the country's top experts on extremism, Miroslav Mareš, the Czech News Agency reported. On Saturday, Ortel came second in the Best Band category in the Czech Nightingale competition and its singer finished third as Best Male Vocalist. The results in the contest are determined by votes from the public.
The Czech Army is planning the purchase of new radars and American-made anti-tank missiles, according to the Czech News Agency. The deal will be discussed by the government this week. Defence Ministry spokesman Petr Medek said the equipment and missiles would bolster the country's military capabilities on foreign missions. The Javelin anti-tank missiles under consideration have automatic self-guidance and lock on before launch. The planned purchase of the missiles plus other equipment is expected to come to more than 500 million crowns.