The Czech Republic has officially accepted the military command of the KFOR mission in Kosovo for one year, beginning Sunday. Along with monitoring on the border with Serbia, Czech soldiers in the KFOR mission will now supervise the work of 1,500 counterparts from five other European countries. Defence Minister Karel Kuehnl praised European partners' confidence in the Czechs, who take over from the Finnish army. The Czech Republic is the first of the newer wave of NATO countries to be entrusted with command over other contingents. At present, the Czech Republic has about 500 soldiers in the Kosovo region.
Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan has defended police intervention that
on Saturday brought to an end an illegal music festival known as Czechtek.
Police - numbering more than a thousand and in full riot gear - resorted to
using tear gas and water cannons against hundreds of partygoers on a meadow
near the village of Mlynec na Tachovsku, west Bohemia. Many refused to
leave the grounds and began throwing bottles. According to reports dozens
suffered mostly minor injuries, with around twenty partygoers and five
officers suffering more serious wounds requiring medical attention.
Despite the clash, the interior minister called the police intervention "necessary", though he said he regretted there had been injuries. Mr Bublan pointed out that officers decided to act following an assessment by a public prosecutor and an authorised expert at the scene, who backed earlier complaints by neighbouring landowners that visitors had damaged private property and broken the law. Police gave a half-hour advance warning before resorting to force to push attendees off the grounds. On the whole some 5,000 visitors attended the Czechtek festival before it was rolled up Saturday.
Steps taken by police at Czechtek on Saturday have drawn criticism from
at least one member of the opposition, right-of-centre Civic Democrat
MP - and shadow Interior Minister - Ivan Langer. On Saturday Mr Langer
accused police of bowing to political pressure from the Prime
Minister's office, saying police had not learned from similar events in
the past. But, the head of the Tachov region police, Jaromir Knize
rejected the charge.
Meanwhile, on Sunday hundreds of young people gathered in front of the Interior Ministry in Prague to protest the police crackdown.
One Czech man was killed during storms in north-west Bohemia on Friday when he took cover under a tree struck by lightning. Storms contributed to several accidents around the country including the derailment of two trains that struck fallen trees on the track. No one on the trains suffered injury. Elsewhere, trains failed to run on some routes as crews cleared fallen debris.
Czech opera singer Richard Haan made history on Friday when he became only the 9th Czech to successfully swim across La Manche - the English Channel. The 55-year-old completed the swim in 14 hours and 7 minutes after setting out from England's Dover. Haan is one of three Czechs who set their sights on the Channel this week.
Czech police have intervened at an allegedly illegal music festival -
known as Czechtek - held annually in the Czech Republic. Early Saturday
the festival, held on a meadow near the village of Mlynec na Tachovsku, in
west Bohemia, continued with some 5,000 visitors. But, police - numbering
more than a thousand in riot gear and backed, for example, by water
cannons - intervened Saturday afternoon, trying to force visitors off the
grounds. Part of a nearby highway was closed off. Several hundred visitors
reportedly refused to back down and began throwing bottles, at which point
police resorted to using tear gas.
The police intervention followed charges pressed by neighbouring landowners who complained that visiting fans had clogged local roads and had damaged private property.
Police intervened only following an assessment by a public prosecutor and an authorised expert saying that festival-goers had broken the law. But, the owner of the grounds has complained he rented the site to festival organisers legally.
In the past, Czechtek has courted no small measure of controversy: last year the event, held elsewhere in Bohemia, resulted in property damages of an estimated 1.4 million crowns - the equivalent of about 56,000 dollars US. At that time police also stepped in.
Czech football striker Milan Baros may soon be headed for the German Bundeslige, to play for Schalke, if the team's owners can reach a deal with Baros' current club, Liverpool. Schalke coach Ralf Rangnik has revealed that his club has struck a deal with the 23-year-old Czech striker and the player's agent, adding that Schalke would make moves towards agreeing a transfer with Liverpool next week. Liverpool has put up a hefty asking price for Baros - 7 million British pounds. Other clubs that expressed an interest in the striker have been Aston Villa and Deportivo.
German Bundesliga runners-up Schalke admit they are unlikely to sign Czech international striker Milan Baros from Liverpool claiming the seven million pound asking price is too high. Schalke entered the race for Baros's signature on Thursday but have baulked at Liverpool's valuation of the topscorer from the Euro 2004 finals. Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is prepared to let the 24-year-old Baros go after signing Peter Crouch from Southampton but he wants a sizeable transfer fee for the marksman. Premiership side Aston Villa have already had a five million pound offer turned down and are considering whether to up their bid.