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On this day June 2, 1848

As part of the Pan-Slavism movement, the Prague Slavic Congress began in Prague, one of the few times that voices from all Slav populations of Europe were heard in one place.Slavic

The Slavic Peoples are an ethnic and linguistic branch of Indo-European peoples, living mainly in eastern and central Europe.

From the early 6th century they spread from their original homeland (most commonly thought to be in Eastern Europe) to inhabit most of eastern Central Europe, Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Many settled later in Siberia and Central Asia or emigrated to other parts of the world. Over half of Europe is, territorially speaking, inhabited by Slavic-speaking communities. Read More…

Czech legislative election

The Social Democratic Party wins a plurality in a legislative election in the Czech Republic, but its leader Jiří Paroubek resigns citing a poorer-than-expected result.

The election saw a loss of support for the Social Democratic Party (ČSSD), although they still received the highest number of votes. The conservative Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and TOP 09 followed in second and third, while the Communist Party finished fourth.

Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek resigned after the election, conceding that a conservative coalition government appeared likely, with the rise of two new right-wing parties—TOP 09 and Public Affairs.

Nuclear Security Summit

President Barack Obama open the 47-nation Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.  The president says he wants new commitments to secure weapons-grade plutonium and uranium to prevent nuclear terrorism.

With concerns about the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea a major backdrop to the conference, this is the biggest U.S.-sponsored gathering of world leaders in more than 60 years.

The New START treaty was signed on April 8, 2010 in Prague by U.S. President Obama and Russian President Medvedev and Iran will hold the Tehran International Conference on Disarmament and Non- Proliferation, 2010, announced on April 4, 2010 and to be held April 17–18, 2010.

The Summit is the largest gathering of heads of state called by a United States president since the 1945 United Nations Conference on International Organization. Delegations from forty-six governments plus the United States are attending, thirty-eight of which are represented by heads of state or government. Read More…

On this day February 4, 1936

Radium E becomes the first radioactive element to be made synthetically.

Marie Skłodowska–Curie

Marie Skłodowska–Curie

Radium (Latin radius, ray) was discovered by Marie Skłodowska-Curie and her husband Pierre in 1898 in pitchblende from North Bohemia, in the Czech Republic (area around Jáchymov).

While studying pitchblende the Curies removed uranium from it and found that the remaining material was still radioactive.

They then separated out a radioactive mixture consisting mostly of barium which gave a brilliant green flame color and crimson carmine spectral lines which had never been documented before. The Curies announced their discovery to the French Academy of Sciences on 26 December 1898. Read More…

On this day October 29, 1787

Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni receives its first performance in Prague with the composer conducting.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The opera, full title Il Dissoluto Punito ossia il Don Giovanni Dramma giocoso in due atti, was rapturously received.

The Prager Oberamtszeitung reported, “Connoisseurs and musicians say that Prague has never heard the like,” and “the opera … is extremely difficult to perform.” Provincialnachrichten of Vienna reported, “Herr Mozart conducted in person and welcomed joyously and jubilantly by the numerous gathering.”

Da Ponte’s claim in his Memoirs that the libretto was finished in June 1787 is untrustworthy. The score was completed on October 28 of the same year after Da Ponte was recalled to Vienna to work on another opera.

Reports about the last-minute completion of the overture conflict; some say it was completed the day before the premiere, some on the very day. More likely it was completed the day before, in light of the fact that Mozart recorded the completion of the opera on 28 October.

The score calls for double woodwinds, horns and trumpets, timpani, basso continuo for the recitatives, and the usual strings. The composer also specified occasional special musical effects.

Czech police arrest former KKK leader

United States Ku Klux Klan figure and Republican Party politician David Duke of Louisiana was arrested and later released, on the condition that he leave the country, by Czech Republic officials in the Czech capital of Prague over the weekend.

The reason given was that Duke holds that the Holocaust never occurred, which is illegal in several countries, including the Czech Republic.

Duke, age 59, was hosted in Prague by Filip Vávra to promote his book My Awakening, and had been scheduled to give a lecture at Charles University, which the University had cancelled prior to his arrest.

Air France-KLM interested in Czech Airlines

On Monday, Europe’s largest airline, Air France-KLM, stated that it is interested in buying a large part of Czech Airlines (CSA).

air_france-klm_logoLast month, the Czech government announced that it is planning to sell its 91.51% stake in Czech Airlines, expecting to generate about US$270 million.

Air France-KLM made a non-binding offer on this share: “Air France-KLM in a letter will today make a non-binding expression of interest in order to have access to detailed documentation on the company”. Read More…

On this day August 20, 1968

The Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies invaded the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, after failed negotiations, in order to prevent Alexander Dubček’s Prague Spring reforms from continuing. In the operation, codenamed “Danube”, the Soviets sent thousands of troops from several Warsaw pact countries; 72 Czechoslovaks were killed by Soviet tanks.

The memorial plate in Košice, Slovakia

The memorial plate in Košice Slovakia

The invasion was successful in stopping the partial democratization reforms and strengthening the authority of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. The foreign policy of the Soviet Union during this era would be known as the Brezhnev Doctrine.

Dubček was appointed as leader of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) after the resignation of Antonín Novotný. Dubček’s reforms consisted of his Action Programme which would guarantee additional rights to the citizens. The Soviets attempted to limit the changes made in Czechoslovakia by negotiating with them; this failed and the invasion was implemented. After the Bratislava Declaration, Soviet troops moved out of Prague and other cities, but remained along Czechoslovak borders.