Tuesday was also a holiday in the Czech Republic, in honour of SS Cyril and Methodius, who brought Christianity to the Czech Lands in the 9th century. While many people enjoyed the day off, it was a black one on the country's roads, with 11 people dying in accidents, the highest number for a single day so for this year. The authorities said the number of collisions may have been due to motorists being tired after driving long distances on the state holiday.
It is a state holiday in the Czech Republic, in honour of the Czech
religious reformer Jan Hus (John Huss), who died on July 6, 1415. Services
dedicated to him have been held in Hussite, Czech Evangelical and other
Protestant churches around the country, on this the 590th anniversary of
Born in south Bohemia, he studied in Prague before being made parish priest at the city's Bethlehem chapel. He was strongly influenced by the English reformer John Wycliffe, whose writings he translated into Czech. When Wycliffe's teachings were banned by the Church, Hus protested from the pulpit; he was declared a heretic and excommunicated, before being burnt at the stake.
In 1999 the late Pope John Paul II expressed regret for Hus's killing, though he was not rehabilitated.
A service was held at Bethlehem chapel in honour of Jan Hus on Wednesday, attended by the prime minister, Jiri Paroubek. President Vaclav Klaus, meanwhile, was among the congregation at a service in Husinec, south Bohemia, where the reformer was born around 1370.
The large statue of Hus on Prague's Old Town Square is to be lit up at night from today on.
It is a national holiday in the Czech Republic, where Roman Catholics have
been remembering Saints Cyril and Methodius, Greek brothers who brought
Christianity to the Czech Lands when they arrived in Moravia in 863. They
also created the Cyrillic alphabet and translated the Gospels and
liturgical books into Slavonic, which at that time had no written form;
the two are considered the founders of Slavic literature.
The Cyril and Methodius tradition was also an important element of the 19th century Czech national revival.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said after lunch with former president Vaclav Havel on Tuesday that the two men had very similar views on the European Union, and were in favour of the ratification of the EU's controversial first constitution. Mr Havel's support for the EU constitution is in contrast with the position of his successor Vaclav Klaus, who is strongly opposed to its adoption.
The biggest event commemorating Cyril and Methodius on Tuesday was the
traditional pilgrimage to Velehrad in south Moravia, where the
missionaries were based. Cardinal Miloslav Vlk conducted a special
service there which was attended by around 30,000 people, including
President Vaclav Klaus. Mr Klaus described Velehrad as an important
place in Czech history and a living memorial.
Wednesday will also be a state holiday in the Czech Republic, the anniversary of the death of religious reformer Jan Hus.
Bohumil Kulinsky says he is extremely unlikely to remain as director of the Bambini di Praga girls choir, whether or not he is found guilty of sexually abusing several members over a 16-year period. Mr Kulinsky is accused of having had sex with three of the choir and abusing 49 girls. He made the statement in a radio interview on Monday, a few days after being released from custody.
President Vaclav Klaus signed into a bill on Monday giving the Lower House of Parliament greater freedom to check cases of police wire-tapping, or bugging. Until now the Lower House's commission monitoring police wiretapping required a 'go ahead' from the Interior Minister. Under the legislation the commission will be allowed to check the details of any wiretapping case, whether ordered by the courts or by state attorneys.
Czech tennis player Jana Novotna, a fresh winner of the women's "over-35" doubles with Tracy Austin at Wimbledon on Saturday, will be inducted to the Tennis Hall of Fame. Novotna, who won 16 grandslam doubles and mixed-doubles titles throughout her career, will be inducted along with players Jim Courier and Yannick Noah. Novotna's most emotional win and career peak came in 1998 when she won the Wimbledon singles final.
A spokeswoman has revealed that the government agency CzechInvest mediated 70 new domestic and foreign investment projects in the first half of 2005 worth almost 25 billion crowns, or the equivalent of almost 1 billion dollars US. The investments are expected to create up to 8,000 new jobs in coming years. CzechInvest says the number of projects is ten higher than a year ago although the volume of investments has remained the same. Roughly a third of investors are heading for northern Bohemia, a region with the highest unemployment in the Czech Republic. The major investors include Germany, the US, the Czech Republic, and Great Britain. Major areas for investments are the auto industry, electronics, engineering, and chemicals and plastics.