Czech morning news in brief: top stories for Nov. 18, 2020

Thousands crowd Prague to commemorate fall of communism, protests take to streets, Prague Zoo welcomes rare baby orangutan, Obama hails Havel.

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 18.11.2020 09:36:00 (updated on 18.11.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

Top news stories for November 18, 2020, compiled by CTK.

Nov. 17 Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day commemorated in Prague

NOV. 17 CELEBRATIONS -- Not only representatives of the government and parliament and other politicians, but also hundreds of ordinary citizens, including families with children, visited the commemorative plaque on Narodni Street Tuesday where on Nov. 17, 1989, students who were peacefully marching were brutally beaten by communist security forces. Elsewhere in Prague a bronze sculpture in memory of student Jan Palach, who burnt himself to death in 1969 after the Soviet invasion, was unveiled outside the new building of the National Museum in Prague. A number of concerts and performances took place online.

Estimated one thousand people protest anti-COVID measures in Prague

PROTESTS -- Hundreds of people, possibly more than a thousand, according to some estimates, protested against the Czech government's anti-epidemic measures in the centre of Prague Tuesday. Protesters met in Wenceslas Square around 16:00, then marched to the National Theatre and then back to the square to sing the Czech anthem. Many participants were not wearing face masks, though they are mandatory outdoors in municipalities unless people keep a distance of at least two people. Some 700 police officers, including members of the anti-conflict team, were monitoring the rally staged by the group but they did not interfere, a police spokesman told CTK.

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Rare Sumatran orangutan born in Prague Zoo

A rare Sumatran orangutan was born at the Prague Zoo (photo: Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo)
A rare Sumatran orangutan was born at the Prague Zoo (photo: Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo)

PRAGUE ZOO -- A rare sumatran orangutan, one of the most endangered ape species on earth, was born in the Prague Zoo Tuesday as the third offspring of the orangutan species born there, said zoo director Miroslav Bobek in a press release. "The newborn is the only great grand-child of the orangutans that came to our zoo from the forests in Sumatra and is extremely valuable genetically. I even dare to say that it is the most valuable in Europe," Bobek said. This is the fourth offspring of the orangutan mother Mawar, 31, and the first of the father Pagy, aged 19. The Prague Zoo has been breeding the Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) since 1961.

Obama calls Havel a role model in his memoirs

WASHINGTON -- Former US president Barack Obama was inspired and fascinated by the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia and post-1989 Czechoslovak and Czech president Vaclav Havel (1989-2003) was one of his role models, he writes in the first volume of his memoirs which went on sale Tuesday. Obama (2009-2017) writes in the "A Promised Land" that he watched the events that led to the fall of the communist regime unfold as a 28-year-old student of Harvard University in 1989. He writes that he was reading Havel's essays then, many years before they met. Obama says Havel's successor as head of state, Vaclav Klaus (2003-2013), strengthened his fears of the resistance of democratic values in central Europe. The covering the period from his first years in politics until 2011, also recalls the speech on nuclear disarmament he delivered in Prague in April 2009.

COVID risk index keeps at 70, with 4,246 new cases on Tuesday

COVID -- The COVID-19 infection risk index on which the Czech tightening and loosening of restrictions depends, is still at 70 on the 0-100 scale today, with 4,246 new COVID-19 cases being confirmed on Tuesday, a national holiday, the Health Ministry's morning data show. Tuesday's figure is 1,163 lower than that on Monday and 50 percent lower than on the preceding Tuesday, but the number of tests is usually lower at weekends and holidays than on workdays. The Health Ministry started releasing the risk assessment index of the five-level anti-epidemiological system (PES) on Monday, since then the index has stayed at 70. This corresponds to the fourth level of anti-COVID measures, while the fifth is valid now. The Health Ministry could loosen restrictions as of next Monday.

Press institute wants govt to improve pandemic communication

MEDIA -- The International Press Institute (IPI) called on Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Health Minister Jan Blatny in an open letter to improve communication with the media on the COVID-19 pandemic and open press conferences to all media representatives. The IPI Czech committee criticised the government in October for not enabling access to its press conferences to media critical of the cabinet, particularly Internet daily Forum 24. According to the IPI, the Babis government has not yet redressed the situation. "Moreover, we have heard from other media outlets that efforts to send questions to the Ministry of Health press office and the government spokesperson Jana Adamcova have repeatedly gone unanswered. This seriously undermines the ability of journalists to carry out their professional responsibilities at a time where impartial and factual information is vital to support public health," the letter says.

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