And the President said he was considering granting a pardon to Karel Hoffmann, who is due to start a four-year jail term on Monday, after being found guilty of disrupting Czech Radio broadcasts during the Soviet-led invasion of 1968. Mr Klaus said he had not yet reached a decision on whether to pardon the former Communist Party official, who is elderly and in poor health.
A fast rail system capable of supporting 300-kilometre-an-hour trains could be begun within 20 years, a spokesperson for the Transport Ministry told the Czech Press Agency. The 700-kilometre system would be built from scratch and would not make use of the Czech Republic's existing rail corridors, which were created between 1839 and 1872.
President Vaclav Klaus has criticised as "toothless" the
policies outlined in the coalition agreement between the three parties in
the new government. Speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Mr Klaus said
the agreement was vague and did not make the government's top policy
The President also took the opportunity to take a swipe at the opposition Civic Democrats, saying they should have reacted to the new government more quickly. Mr Klaus said the party, of which he is honorary chairman, should be more concerned with the present than possible future developments.
On the issue of former prime minister Vladimir Spidla being chosen as the Czech Republic's next European commissioner, President Klaus was highly critical, saying it was a "con" and a "mistake". Mr Spidla was given the job ahead of Pavel Telicka, the man he himself had chosen to represent the country on the European Commission. The former prime minister will take over from Mr Telicka in November.
Hope was fading on Sunday for any remaining mountaineers - many of them
believed to be Czechs - trapped by avalanches high on a mountainside in
Kyrgyzstan, a local official said. Five Czechs and one Russian were
confirmed killed on Thursday after avalanches on the 7,000-metre
Meanwhile a Czech climber has fallen to his death in the High Tatra Mountains in Slovakia, a mountain rescue worker said on Sunday. Ten Czech mountaineers have died in the Tatras this year.
Around 1,000 Polish people arrived on a special train in Jesenik on Saturday to take part in a beer festival in the north Moravian town. A local official said it was the third time guests from Poland had been invited to the festival, adding that the event could lead to an increase in cross-border co-operation.
New avalanches are hampering efforts to find climbers, many of them Czechs, who remain trapped beneath snow on a mountainside in Kyrgyzstan, according to a local official. Five Czechs and one Russian were confirmed killed after avalanches on the 7,000-metre Khan-Tengri peak on Thursday. The accident is the worst to befall Czech mountaineers since 1970, when 14 members of a Czechoslovak expedition died in Peru.
The new Czech football season got underway on Saturday afternoon, with defending champions Banik Ostrava losing 2:1 at home to Teplice. The beginning of the season came against a backdrop of bribery allegations, with 16 referees and the chairman of Viktoria Zizkov being charged with corruption on Thursday.
President Vaclav Klaus has criticised the approach taken by the party he founded, the Civic Democrats, during the recent government crisis, according to Saturday's edition of the newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes. The daily said the President believed the intransigence of party chairman, Mirek Topolanek, was to blame for allowing the three parties in the out-going coalition to form a new government. Mr Topolanek became leader of the Civic Democrats in December 2002, after Mr Klaus had been at the helm for 12 years. President Klaus is the party's honorary chairman.
The first 300 professional soldiers to sign up for the Czech Army took their oath of allegiance on T.G. Masaryk Square in the Moravian town of Prerov on Friday. Among the new recruits were 85 women. Compulsory military service has been phased out in the Czech Republic and the Army will be fully professional from the beginning of next year.
The Czech Finance Ministry has ordered an audit into the system for approving European Union-related projects following the European Commission's suspension on Wednesday of some 2 billion crowns worth of payments earmarked for this country under the EU Phare programme. The European Commission suspended payments from the EU's pre-accession fund because the Czech system for approving projects did not adhere to EU rules. The international consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers will carry out the audit and is due to publish its findings in late September.
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