The last group of soldiers to undergo compulsory military service in the Czech Republic pledged their allegiance at Prague Castle on Saturday morning. The 400 young men made their pledges in front of President Klaus, the minister of defence, Miroslav Kostelka, and members of their families. The oath of allegiance ceremony traditionally takes place on the anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. When the 400 soldiers complete their military service just before Christmas the Czech Army will have become fully professional.
Sparta Prague have beaten the Czech league champions Banik Ostrava 2:1. It is an important win for the Prague club, who are hoping to come second, which guarantees a place in the qualifying rounds of the lucrative Champions League. Ostrava were presented with their first league trophy in 23 years after the game.
Former dissidents from the Visegrad Four countries have agreed at a meeting in Bratislava to continue working together, after the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary joined the EU last Saturday. Czechoslovakia's first foreign minister after the Velvet Revolution, Jiri Dienstbier, recalled how solidarity between former dissidents from the four countries had helped them during negotiations over the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the withdrawal of Soviet troops.
A ceremony has been held on Prague's Vitkov hill to mark the 59th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. President Vaclav Klaus laid a wreath at the grave of the Unknown Soldier during the ceremony, which was also attended by other senior politicians and World War II veterans. Among the latter was Oldrich Prazak, who took part in the Prague Uprising between May 5 and 9, 1945: he said his generation had fought for the existence of the Czech nation and the survival of its identity.
On the day the semi-finals of the World Ice Hockey Championships are being held in Prague, Ivan Hlinka has been named a "hockey legend of the Czech Republic" at a ceremony in the Czech capital. Mr Hlinka, who is now 54, scored 132 international goals and won three world championships as a player before leading his country to gold at the World Championships and the Olympics as a coach.
President Vaclav Klaus has accepted the resignation of Constitutional Court judge Jiri Malenovsky. Mr Malenovsky became the Czech representative at the European Court of Justice on May 1, the day the Czech Republic became a member of the European Union. Based in Luxembourg, the European Court of Justice interprets and implements EU law, and is the Union's supreme legal institution.
The tenth Bookworld trade-fair, which got underway on Thursday, has been continuing in Prague. One curiosity at Svet knihy, to give it its Czech name, is the opportunity to order a copy of a limited edition book about the former boxer Muhammad Ali. So far no visitors have availed of the chance to order the book, which costs almost a quarter of a million Czech crowns.
Local authorities are considering sending an inspection to a school where a thirteen year old boy committed suicide this week. The mayor of Hrusovany, near Brno, where the tragedy occurred, said he'd scheduled a meeting of town hall representatives which would debate the matter. The town's inhabitants were devastated by news of the suicide and shocked by rumours that the boy had killed himself because he'd been bullied in school. Neither the police nor the school authorities have confirmed this but the headmistress admitted that bullying was a problem, as in most schools across the country.
Agriculture minister Jaroslav Palas has warned against a possible bark beetle calamity in Czech forests, urging owners to take action. The hot dry summer of 2003 has allegedly led to a dramatic increase of infested forests - an estimated 41,000 square metres of forest land. The worst affected regions are south Bohemia and south Moravia. The minister has urged forest owners to take corrective action, saying that all the information is available on the ministry's web site. Those who fail to take the stated measures, risk a steep fine.
The Temelin nuclear power plant in south Bohemia will not supply power to the grid at the weekend, due to technical problems in the second unit. Its spokesman Milan Nebesar said the unit had problems with turbine vibrations and oil leaks from the turbine. The first unit is undergoing a planned shutdown.
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