News Ukrainians hold anti-Yanukovych gathering in Prague
Hundreds of Ukrainians living in the Czech Republic held a mass for the victims of the recent killings in their country at the top of Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Sunday. The crowd carried signs reading Stop Yanukovych and heard speeches condemning the actions of his now ousted government. Also on Sunday a concert in support of Ukraine was held on the Prague’s Náměstí Republiky; the event was free but attendees could send financial support by SMS to the NGO People in Need, which is organising aid for the strife-torn state.
For the daily news summary, available after 8pm CET, click here.
Republican senator and former US presidential candidate John McCain told Fox News on Monday that a missile defense system scrapped by the Obama administration should be brought back in response to Russia's invasion of Crimea. The senator joined other Republicans, including former vice president Dick Cheney, in criticising the American president, saying for example that Mr Obama had completely "misread" Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Missile defense was a project strongly pursued by the administration of George W. Bush. Originally, a rocket system was planned in Poland and an early warning radar in the Czech Republic. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek responded to the comments by saying such a system would not have changed anything in the current crisis.
The police detained four men suspected of having illegally distributed marijuana in parts of the Czech Republic and Poland since 2011. Three were charged with illegal production; two were remanded in custody. During the police raid, officers seized 31 kilos of the drug with a street value of around two million crowns. The head of the apparent gang is a Polish national who has lived in the Czech Republic for several years. If found guilty, the suspects could spend up to 12 years in prison.
The Environment Ministry is investigating 21 suspicious contracts worth 173.3 hundred million crowns. The ministry is also examining current tenders and computer equipment orders, Environment Minister Richard Brabec told reporters on Monday. Changes are also planned to make more effective the drawing of the funds. The minister made clear he was cleaning house 39 days after taking up the post, saying he didn’t want to wait until a significant date to implement changes. Since taking up the job, he replaced all five deputies as well as several section directors.
Only 34 percent of Czechs today ‘trust’ the European Union, according to a new poll released by the STEM agency. The numbers are the lowest in 20 years; the survey was first launched in 1994. Trust in the European Parliament, the poll suggests, is 30 percent – five percent less than last September. Another recent poll, suggested that Czechs considered elections to the EP the least significant in the election calendar. Trust in the EU long remained at around 50 or 60 percent, with the last high point being registered in 2009, when the Czech Republic held the EU presidency.
The Czech foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, has suggested that the political part of an EU Association Agreement could be signed with Ukraine by March 17 or at a meeting of EU foreign ministers beginning on March 20. Mr Zaorálek spoke to the Czech News Agency on Monday. The European Commission has not confirmed any exact dates; the spokeswoman for the EC said only that the signing of the agreement was a priority and that that would happen before May 25, when Ukraine will be holding presidential elections. It was a decision to halt preparations for the agreement by the former government in Kiev which started months of unrest which led to the ousting of former president Viktor Yanukovcyh.
A Czech mother and daughter who died under mysterious circumstances while vacationing in Egypt last year, may have died from electric shock, news website iDnes reports, citing an anonymous source apparently close to the investigation. Earlier, there was speculation the two, aged 36 and eight, had been poisoned; the husband and father, Petr Kramný, is charged with their murder and has been remanded in custody. He has denied any wrongdoing and filed a complaint with Ostravá’s regional court challenging his detention.
The unemployment rate in February remained unchanged from January’s 8.6 percent while the number of job seekers dropped by 0.6 percent to roughly 625,000; the amount of job vacancies, however, grew, the Czech Employment Office said. February often sees high unemployment figures, but the office said this year’s mild winter had had a positive effect. The unemployment figure is expected to drop in the coming months due to seasonal jobs.
The regional court in Ostrava handed stiff sentences on Monday to three men who robbed and murdered an older couple from Bohumín in the Karviná area last year: 27 years in prison, 30 years, and life behind bars. All three were heavily in debt and at least one of the three knew the victims, who were shot and killed in a garage and buried in a pre-dug grave on the spot. The men had staked out the couple from among a number of potential targets; crucial in their decision was that they believed the couple had cash in their home instead of in the bank. The perpetrators made off with 230,000 crowns but had ‘hoped’ for up to five million. All three will be held in maximum security prisons.
Fashion designer Monika Drápalová has won the main prize of Grand Design 2013 awarded by the the Academy of Design of the Czech Republic. This is the first time in the event’s seven year history that the main prize has gone to a fashion designer. Drápalová impressed the jury with her collection The Free Circle for Rose and Mary Fashion. The Grand Design awards annually draw attention to exceptional achievements in the field of design and enhance public awareness of new trends in the field of Czech design.
Hundreds of town halls, schools and institutions around the Czech Republic are expected to join the Flag for Tibet initiative expressing support for Tibetan independence. The Flag for Tibet initiative traditionally takes place on March 10th marking the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising in Lhasa which was brutally suppressed by the Chinese regime. The event is traditionally accompanied by lectures, film screenings and exhibitions documenting Tibetan history and culture.