Culture Minister Pavel Dostal has presented the journalist and translator Antonin Jaroslav Liehm with the Artis Bohemiae Amicis award for services to Czech culture. Mr Liehm, who is 80, left Czechoslovakia in 1968 and worked with many international radio stations, as well as giving lectures at universities around Europe and the United States.
As demonstrations against the United States-led war on Iraq were held around the world, around 300 people gathered on Prague's Wenceslas Square on Saturday afternoon to express their opposition. After several anti-war speeches the demonstrators marched to the US embassy, where they held a minute's silence for the victims of the war.
The police have arrested a six-member gang equipped with 10 kilogrammes of explosives and detonators which can be set off by mobile telephones. The gang were also in possession of pistols, machine gun parts and over 7,000 pieces of ammunition, a police spokesperson said on Friday. The six - all Czech nationals - were arrested in west Bohemia on Wednesday. The interior minister, Stanislav Gross, said he did not believe there was any connection between the cache of explosives and weapons and international terrorism.
Speaking at a conference about the position of Belarus after European Union enlargement, former Czech president Vaclav Havel said Czech people had a special understanding of the type of problems being experienced in the country, which is known for human rights violations. Also attending the conference at the Czech Senate on Saturday was the Belarusian opposition leader Ivonka Surville; she said the Czech Republic was the leading promoter of her country's opposition on the international scene.
The Czech finance minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, and representatives of eight other new European Union countries agreed at a meeting in Bratislava on Friday that the current ceiling on expenditure in the EU budget should be maintained. The officials also said conditions set in the stability and growth pact should not be loosened. The Czech Republic is one of ten countries joining the EU on May 1.
Hundreds of fish were killed when an as yet unidentified chemical leaked into the water system near the east Bohemian town of Nachod on Friday. The chemical is believed to have come from a house in the area and criminal charges against the owners are being prepared, a spokesman for the local authority said.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Prague's Drop In centre, which helps drug addicts, has said that most of the measures proposed by the government in its fight against drugs would not prove effective. Drop In's Ivan Douda said on Friday dividing drugs into different categories was standard practice around the world.
Five former managers of one of the Czech Republic's biggest banks, Komercni banka, are being investigated for fraud, police said on Friday. The five are accused of helping Austrian businessman Baraka Alona defraud the bank of over a billion crowns between 1996 and 2000. Nine former members of Komercni banka's board of directors have been under investigation for fraud of eight billion crowns, also involving Mr Alona, since May 2001.
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