Thursday, December 22, 2011

News 12.22.2011

Copyright (c) 2011 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

By: Daniela Lazarova

* The Czech Republic is observing three days of mourning in honour of
the late ex-president Vaclav Havel.

* Vaclav Havel's remains will be laid to rest in the family tomb in
Vinohrady cemetery in Prague.

* Close to forty foreign dignitaries are expected to attend the late
ex-president's funeral ceremony on Friday.

* Real estate agents report that the economic uncertainty is making
Czechs cautious in their housing decisions.

* The faulty French breast implants suspected of being potentially
carcinogenic were exported to 65 countries, including the Czech

Country observes three days of mourning

The Czech Republic is observing three days of mourning in honour of the
late ex-president Vaclav Havel. State institutions are flying black
flags with others at half-mast. Concerts, exhibitions and theatrical
performances have been largely cancelled, and casinos and gambling bars
are closed. Some cinemas are screening the film documentary Citizen
Havel free of charge. Long lines are still forming at Prague Castle
where people come to pay their last respects to the late president. His
body is lying in state in the castle's historic Vladislav Hall where it
will remain until Friday's funeral. Vaclav Havel died in his sleep on
Sunday at his cottage in Northern Bohemia. He was 75 years old.

Havel to be buried at Vinohrady cemetery

Mr. Havel's widow Dagmar has announced that the remains of her late
husband will be laid to rest in the family tomb at the Vinohrady
cemetery in Prague. This is the final resting place of Vaclav Havel's
first wife Olga and the late president's parents. The family will say a
private goodbye to the late president at Prague's Strasnice crematorium
on Friday afternoon. The press have been asked to respect their privacy.

Funeral attendance list grows

Twelve heads of state and two dozen government representatives are
expected to attend Vaclav Havel's funeral ceremony on Friday, among
them French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German President Christian
Wulff, Austrian President Heinz Fischer, US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, British Prime Minister David Cameron and others. The speakers
at the ceremony are President Vaclav Klaus, Prague Archbishop Dominik
Duka, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and the former US
secretary of state Madelaine Albright who is of Czech descent and was a
close friend of Mr. Havel's. A condolence letter from Pope Benedict XVI
will be read out during the mass.

At noon on Friday bells will toll across the Czech Republic in memory
of the departed president and people will observe a minute of silence
in his honour.

Police gearing up for funeral

Police are gearing up for Friday's funeral which will be attended by
numerous foreign dignitaries and will inevitably bring restrictions to
city traffic in some parts of Prague. Drivers have been asked to leave
their cars at home if at all possible. Meanwhile, Czech Railways has
said it is reinforcing trains to and from Prague on Thursday and Friday
in view of high public interest in attending the funeral. Although
people will not be able to enter St. Vitus' Cathedral, which is limited
to 1,000 places, the funeral will be shown live on screens outside.

Vaclav Havel's death mask taken

The president's office reports that Vaclav Havel's death mask has been
taken for the creation of future portraits and sculptures of the late
president. Many countries still observe the tradition of taking death
masks of eminent personalities and royals.

Memorial concert at Lucerna sold out

Tickets to a public memorial concert for Vaclav Havel at Prague's
Lucerna Palace, organized by his brother, sold out in two hours. The
rock group The Plastic People of the Universe, which was closely
associated with Vaclav Havel, will be playing along with other groups
of the dissident music scene, Garage, Hudba Praha and the Velvet
Underground Revival. The organizers have also promised to show clips
from documentary films about the former president and play tributes
from friends and celebrities. The memorial concert will be shown on a
big screen on Wenceslas Square and live on Czech TV.

Gdansk to name street after Vaclav Havel

The northern Polish city of Gdansk has announced that it will name one
of its streets after the late Czech president Vaclav Havel. City mayor
Pawel Adamowicz said Mr. Havel was the "Czech Lech Walesa" and was
greatly loved and honoured in Poland. The decision to rename the
street, as of Friday- the day of Mr. Havel's funeral, is said to have
been unanimous. In Prague there is an initiative to rename the city's
main international airport after the country's first post-communist

Charles University honours Vaclav Havel

Prague's Charles University held a commemorative gathering to honour
the memory of the late Czech president Vaclav Havel on Thursday. Among
those present at the ceremony were Vaclav Havel's brother Ivan, an
important figure in the Czech academic community and the university's
former rector Charter 77 signatory Radim Palous. In 1990 Vaclav Havel
received an honorary doctorate from Charles University for his
philosophical writings.

Real estate agents say buyers increasingly cautious

Real estate agents report that the economic uncertainty is making
Czechs cautious in their housing decisions. They say potential buyers
are extremely cautious in taking out mortgages and many people now
prefer to rent out property until the economic situation improves. In
the course of 2011 interest in renting property, particularly flats,
has risen by over 17 percent. Many companies have announced lay-offs at
the start of 2012 and the number of Czechs who are unable to pay their
debts is on the rise.

Faulty French breast implants exported to the Czech Republic

The faulty French breast implants suspected of being potentially
carcinogenic were exported to 65 countries including the Czech
Republic. The implants are also more likely to split and leak than
other kinds. It is expected that the French government will announce a
recall of the implants, which will involve tens of thousands of
recipients being called in for surgery. It is not yet clear how many
Czech women -and foreign patients who underwent surgery at Czech
clinics- this may concern. The French authorities are expected to issue
a statement on Friday.


The next few days should be partly cloudy to overcast with rain or
sleet showers and day temperatures between O and 5 degrees.

Articles posted on today

Stage managing Prague Castle - Zdenek Lukes remembers Vaclav Havel

When Vaclav Havel came to Prague Castle, it meant a complete upheaval
not only of the old system of governance, but also of the way things
were run at the historical seat of the president itself. One of those
who has been at Prague Castle since the very outset of that period is
architect and art historian Zdenek Lukes, who worked closely with
Vaclav Havel on revamping the castle and shared in the exuberance of
the early administration. Speaking here with Christian Falvey, he
recalled working with Mr Havel in the Civic Forum, the first
post-Communist political movement.

Vaclav Havel honoured at Prague's Chanukah ceremony

The late president Vaclav Havel was honoured by Prague's Jewish
community on Wednesday during a Chanukah lighting ceremony in Jan
Palach square in the centre of the capital. Jewish leaders, along with
diplomats and the mayor of Prague, said the festival celebrates the
same values Vaclav Havel always stood up for.

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