Icy conditions are more than likely to have been a factor in a five-car pile-up in the north Bohemian region of Usti nad Labem on Sunday that left three injured and transported to hospital in Litomerice. One of the cars caught fire in the crash, but was soon put out by fire fighters arriving at the scene.
Delegates at district conferences of the Social Democratic Party held in
the towns of Hodonin and Breclav in south Moravia, have voted in favour of
Labour & Social Affairs Minister Zdenek Skromach's taking over as head
of the Social Democrat Party next year. Mr Skromach has already announced
plans to challenge Prime Minister Stanislav Gross for the chairmanship at
the party's convention in the spring. At the weekend Mr Skromach took part
in meetings in both districts, presenting a plan for the Social Democratic
Party to return to its left-of-centre roots.
Otherwise, there are indications that most district organisations continue to support Prime Minister Gross. Mr Skromach does have some high-profile backers, namely retired politician and former prime minister Milos Zeman.
Czech ski jumper Jakub Janda built on a fairly successful first day of ski jumping by placing 3rd in a second World Cup event in Harrachov, north-east Bohemia, on Sunday. In Sunday's competition Janda came third, with jumps of 140 and 136.5 metres. His medal finish is his third on the World Cup circuit so far this year. Finn Janne Ahonen clinched the top spot with jumps of 140 and 141 metres.
Around 70 Russian children and adults on recuperative stay in Karlovy
Vary following the tragedy in Russia's Beslan visited the west Bohemian
town of Pilsen on Sunday. Visiting sites included Pilsen's zoo. Most of
the children and parents invited for the four-week stay in the Czech
Republic lost friends or loved ones in the hostage-taking and terrorist
stand-off in Beslan, in September, in which terrorists killed 330
people. Of those, 172 were children.
Czech specialists say the children on stay in Karlovy Vary have adapted well, but continue to show deeply-ingrained trauma, evident in their drawings of bombs, graves, and war.
One of the parents told the press on Sunday that returning home would be difficult, that parents would once again fear for their children there.
The Czech awards ceremony Cesky slavik - or the Czech Nightingale -
held in Prague on Saturday has seen a repeat of winners from 2003:
Lucie Bila clinched the title of best female singer while the best
musical group award went to Czech heavy metal band Kabat. Czech singer
Karel Gott won for a notable 30th time in his extensive career, while
young star Aneta Langerova, the winner of the Czech Republic's first
ever Pop Idol, was voted best newcomer. Cesky slavik winners are chosen
through a public poll: this year some 94,000 Czechs took part.
Besides featuring Czech stars the awards evening also saw performances by Norwegian singer Kurt Nilsen and Ukrainian star Ruslana.
The outgoing U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is set to arrive in Prague on Monday evening ahead of talks on Tuesday with Czech politicians including Justice Minister Pavel Nemec and Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan. Among other things the Czech justice minister and his U.S. counterpart will work to negotiate a new treaty on extradition. The current treaty between the U.S. and the Czech Republic dates back to 1920s Czechoslovakia and a new basis for cooperation between the two countries needs to be adopted, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry has said.
Czech president Vaclav Klaus has come out with strong words against the current coalition government: in an interview for the daily Pravo, published Saturday, the president criticised the cabinet as being, in his view, "incapable of dealing with long-term problems" or presenting a "clear conceptual approach". The Czech president also criticised government ministers for being invisible to the public. The latest interview is hardly the first time Mr Klaus has criticised the government: the president also had strong words following a government crisis earlier in the year that led to the resignation of former prime minister Vladimir Spidla, replaced by Stanislav Gross.
Police in the town of Liberec are investigating an incident on Friday evening in which an unidentified man publicly doused himself in gasoline before setting himself alight. The incident took place in an area between the town's courthouse and local prison. Rescue workers who arrived at the scene were unable to save the man who died shortly after, having suffering burns on 100 percent of his body. The case of self-immolation is the 2nd in Liberec this year.
Members from two of the three government parties have - for the most part - rejected the president's view. On Saturday Social Democrat deputy chairman Zdenek Skromach said he believed the government of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross would manage to govern until the next election in 2006, and ruled out a shift to minority rule. Freedom Union deputy chairman Frantisek Pelc, also commented, largely rejecting the president's words. At the same time he did concede he felt there was some truth to the president's criticism of the government's health care reform, which the president had said lacked "strategic focus".
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